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Associations that have been around for a while—years, decades even—are doing a lot of things right. A word of caution, though. It’s easy to get complacent, to keep doing what’s always been done because it “works,” or because everyone is too busy to contemplate a better way.

See if this sounds familiar: Your association runs basically the same marketing plans year after year for membership and events. You have similar messaging and a similar value prop every time. You also have the same overall look and feel, the same offers, the same vibe. You might even cut and paste messages from years past into your current promotional materials. Maybe you’re short on time. Maybe you truly believe it’s hard to top a classic.

Even if what you’re doing “works,” chances are you’re leaving something on the table: memberships, registrations, and non-dues revenue. Sure, you are getting members in your door and filling some seats at your events. But consider how many people might be tuning you out after all these years. And imagine how many more people are out there that your association could help and support if only they knew you existed. If only they knew how great and valuable your offerings are.

There’s an old business saying, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” It used to mean that if you don’t change, you’ll never grow. Nowadays, however, that’s a best case scenario. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll erode your brand. You could see a decline in your membership and event numbers until eventually your association ceases to exist.

It’s time to get more. To shake things up. To ensure your association will still be around for decades to come. Newspapers, print ads, and direct mail were once the backbone of a solid event marketing strategy. Then came email. And now associations are sending lots and lots of email. Too much email. Digital ads, AI, and automation are powerful new tools, but they’re also causing a noisy, always-on, information-overload culture that can actually decrease engagement. It’s essential to put your time and money behind the things that will do you the most good and lay aside the things that no longer serve you well.

Don’t just change for the sake of change. Change is tough. It’s hard to get buy-in for new processes, ideas, and tools. You need to make the right changes. The most meaningful changes. The ones that stand to make the biggest difference in terms of your event and membership numbers and, by extension, your association itself.

Let the data tell you which changes to make. Track performance. Talk to your members to understand their current goals, fears, and pain points. Consider your options carefully. Don’t just jump on the latest digital trends. Think like your members and prospects and do what’s best for them—not necessarily what’s the easiest or most fun for your association. Approach challenges with boldness and scrappy determination to fuel members’ success and to secure the future of your association

Give us a call and let’s talk about your tactics, so that you can blow 2024 out of the water!

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What Comes After Inspiration? Reassurance

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Number One First and Always: Inspire People!

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Human beings make most of our decisions from the emotional center of our brain. And then our pre-frontal cortex (the logic center of the brain) helps us reaffirm that our decision was the right one. 

We know this because scientists put people in scanners and watch the different parts of their brain light up.

But what does brain science have to do with your association’s event? Everything.

In this series of posts, we’ve been working through the 3 phases of event marketing. Each phase highlights a key attribute your event marketing plan needs: Emotion, facts, and urgency.

So far, we’ve covered the first phase, Inspire People. That’s the phase that targets emotion.

Today, we’re going to talk about the second phase: Reassure the Intent.

This is the phase that targets facts. This is where you need to communicate to people: You know how you felt a spark when you connected with our message? Well, here are the goods!

Reassuring the intent simply means filling out the rest of the picture for potential attendees. You’re giving people what they need to confirm that registering for your event is something they must do.

This is the phase of marketing where you craft messages that answer questions like:

  • What will I learn?
  • Who will be there?
  • Who are the speakers?
  • What are the highlights?
  • What are the big reasons I don’t want to miss out?

We find that these are the questions associations usually want to start their marketing with. They want to lead with facts. Throw all the bullet points and all the checklists at people right away. It can be difficult, in Phase 1, to stay higher level, to find the deeper reason, the emotional hook.

But now, in Phase 2, you’re released! Let the facts shine! If you’ve done your job in the first phase and found the inspiration to hook attendees, this phase can feel a bit easier.

But don’t let that fool you. 

We came across a study that another marketing agency did, that found that only 13% of associations surveyed said they had a compelling value proposition.

13%!

Coming up with a sterling value proposition and knowing how to communicate it has always been a challenge for associations. It’s like answering an existential question: It’s hard to do and you’re so close to it that you often can’t see if you’ve truly answered it.

Reassuring the intent is an uphill climb if you don’t know the value proposition for your event. So before you start listing bullet points, do some work around crafting it. (If you’re struggling, we can help.)

We helped a long-time client market their annual event, Staffing World.

In our last post, we talked about how we found the inspirational thread by analyzing the audience and focusing on “people people.”

For phase 2, it’s time to focus on the facts.

Reassuring the intent is about hitting people in the logic center of their brain. It’s when concepts like “reputation” and “expertise” matter. That’s why we created messaging around the fact that this event is the biggest gathering of its kind in the industry. It’s THE place to be for staffing professionals who want to connect, learn, and grow.

We designed various print and digital pieces to highlight specific educational sessions, formal and informal networking events, and the best-in-class expo hall. We also talked in-depth about the high-caliber individuals who would attend, creating a sense of FOMO so that potential attendees could see themselves among this crowd.

Remember, people read 30% or less on the web, and slightly more in print. Design and messaging matter just as much now as they did in the inspiration phase.

Your marketing can’t become a Wikipedia page, dry and factual. You’re still jockeying for people’s time, and you have to give them a reason to listen to you

Reach out if you’d like to talk about how your association can best reassure the intent. Or if you’re still chewing on how to find the inspiration, we’re happy to talk you through as well.

Rottman Creative can help you cut through the busyness with new marketing formats and technologies. Let’s chat.

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Navigating the Event Marketing Landscape in 2024: A Strategic 3-Phase Approach for Success

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Number One First and Always: Inspire People!

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Event Outlook for Associations

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Recession coming? No, the labor market is strong! We’re about to have a soft landing. Although . . . inflation! It’s a long way from under control, so maybe we are headed straight for a recession.

We are on the brink of recession. We aren’t on the brink of recession. The true answer (which even the data heads don’t know) matters far less than people’s perception of whether we are.

Because what always goes with a maybe-recession is a certain-scaling back. Once the speculation starts, where do companies look to cut costs? Business travel. Training. Expenses where they can’t immediately trace the ROI.

And that’s bad news for your events this summer.

Or maybe it’s exactly the news you need to make some changes.

Here are 3 best practices we’re doing with our association clients to help them reach their numbers amid the recession chatter.

#1

Offer, Segment, Adapt

Recently, we promoted a special offer for a client who has an event in June. We sent emails and ran a social media campaign that advertised an early bird deal: Sign up by X date and you get X amount of dollars off your registration. 

The offer wasn’t necessarily about getting people to sign up—it was still early, after all. The offer was mostly a strategy to see who would click. Tracking who clicked told us who was interested in the event. With this particular campaign, we had 1,600 people click.

Now, we had a large segment of very warm prospects. You can talk to people who’ve shown interest in a slightly different way than people who still aren’t sure who you even are.

Pulling out this segment of interested prospects helps us create a customized engagement strategy. With each piece of content we send to them, we could learn more about what gets them excited, and adapt accordingly. 

The best part: If we just convert 30% of this one segment, we’ve helped our client nearly reach their attendance goal.

#2

Enlist the Early Adopters

The early bird bait may be all about uncovering a segment to market to, but some people will take you up on your offer. These are the early adopters. Maybe they are loyal members. Maybe they are willing to take a chance on you. Either way, they are a fantastic asset.

In thinking about them, remember one word: EARLY.
It stands for Early Adopters Really Love You.

Why do they love you? That’s for you to find out—by asking them. And specifically, asking them to share their story.

We heard from a vendor who mentioned they had just signed up to attend an industry association event. It wasn’t even on their radar, they said. But a colleague posted on social media that they had just signed up and couldn’t wait to see everyone. That one message not only inspired our vendor to sign up, but inspired at least 5 others, who posted in the comments—all within an hour—that they had just registered.

Both the early adopters and the early majority (a larger segment) can help you in this project. But you need to make it easy for them by making a specific ask, such as: Can you post one sentence on your preferred social network about why you are attending?

#3

Create a Landing Page That Cuts Through the Noise, Especially for Non-Members

Time and time again, we see associations that invest heavily in building great websites for their members. But so often, when non-members go to their site, they aren’t even clear if the event is open to them.

Non-members already have a hurdle to overcome (usually one involving cost). Don’t throw more hurdles at them!

It’s why you need to build out a simple “demo-style” landing page for your event. It should be a page that’s accessible for all, but optimized for non-members. 

Think about when you are researching software. Are you ready to buy it the second you land on the page? No, you want a demo. You want to understand what you’re getting, in the simplest terms possible.

At Rottman Creative, we’ve taken this “demo” concept and reimagined event landing pages for several of our clients. After refining and tweaking, and we have a formula that works. 

If you’re curious to learn more about landing pages or any of these strategies for changing the conversation from “Will there be a recession?” to “I’ll be there! Who’s with me?” . . . just drop us a line at: gary@rottmancreative.com or let’s talk!

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On the Chasm Between Data and Stories (Spoiler: It’s Not Real)

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New Year, Old Database? You’re Going to Have Some Problems

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Test time! Which of these statements is true?

Marketing campaigns should be data-driven.
Marketing campaigns should be story-driven

We’ve debated, gone all-in on one and then the other, and here we are again. In this particular moment in time, data on one side, stories on the other, seemingly a chasm between them.

It’s time to close the chasm. To blend the science of conversion with the art of storytelling.

But how did the divide between narrative and numbers come to be? Where did we get the false assertion that we needed to cleave to one or the other?

In addition to being an agency committed to using a data-driven process for our clients, we’re also in the business of storytelling. That’s why we’ve thought a lot about the danger of de-prioritizing one for the other. 

There’s been an evolution of how associations use stories and data in their go-to-market strategies. It’s never been more important to understand how to blend them. But to fully grasp the potential of this moment, we need to trace where we’ve been.

When Storytelling Saved the Day

With the Global Financial Crisis that swept across multiple industries in 2008, marketers saw the writing on the wall. Non-essential things were getting cut. Belts were tightening.

To release the purse strings, to move out of a mindset of scarcity, people needed something more. They needed to be inspired

Having released the first iPhone the year before, that’s exactly what Apple was doing. They were spinning a story about a product that nobody had any idea they needed, even as the economy all around was teetering.

A few years later, marketing guru Simon Sinek wrote a book called Start With Why, based, in large part, on noticing the way Apple was able to captivate and reinvent itself through the decades. People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it, he wrote.

This wasn’t a new idea, but it was the right idea at the right time, and it re-ignited the power of brand storytelling. Just about every marketing firm jumped on the story bandwagon. Inspiration was the name of the game. 

We lived it, too, and we helped our clients create campaigns meant to inspire. As Millennials began to come of age, with their focus on mission-driven organizations, the storytelling frenzy only grew stronger. It was about authenticity and creating deep connection. 

And Then the World Started to Shift

As social media increasingly muddied the waters of authenticity, storytelling started to feel too fanciful for a world grappling with what was true and what was fake. There was a pandemic and another economic crisis, but this time, it was data that seemed to be the savior. 

What can you measure? What can you track? What can you see? It was the metrics that mattered, that would cut through the white noise and distraction.

Now, we’re slowly emerging from that epicenter of fear, but the landscape is different again. We’re forced to be constantly connected—and yet, we’re wholly disconnected from each other. We’re also distrustful.

Do we need stories? Do we need data?

Yes and yes.

But what we really need is discernment about how the two are connected.

The New, Data-Driven Storytelling

What we know now about storytelling is that it’s more trial and error than it is magic. Simon Sinek wasn’t wrong when he said that people connect with WHY an organization exists, more than the particulars of WHAT they do.

But it takes a lot of work to know what stories to tell around that WHY. It takes careful measurement to know which stories, told which ways, will convert people. And more than anything, in today’s environment, it takes building trust.

Finding the right story to tell can build that trust and inspire members and prospects to take action. But you can only find it if you know how to measure and track.

When we talk about brand storytelling now, what we’re really talking about is conversion.

We’d love to hear how you’ve used storytelling in the past, and how you plan to use it going forward.

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New Year, Old Database? You’re Going to Have Some Problems

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Why Targeting SMALL Companies is the BIG Idea You Need Now

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Small Companies
If you’re like most associations, your member recruitment strategy probably goes something like this:
  1. Work very hard to get the largest companies in your industry to join, because their dues are the highest.
  2. Work even harder to get the medium-sized companies in your industry to join, because they are your reliable base.
  3. Let the small companies just find you, because the combination of lesser dues + resources needed to serve them doesn’t always feel worth it.

We understand this approach. We also know that associations must do a delicate juggling act. You need to make your payroll to stay viable, but you’re also nonprofit, charged with representing the industry.

In other words, you’re supposed to be doing it all, but your staff lacks the time and resources. So, you adopt a triage mentality, and focus your efforts on what seems like it will produce the greatest rewards.

But what if we told you there was an easily available opportunity that didn’t make your life harder and wouldn’t add more work? One that would allow you to better represent your industry AND grab a boatload of dues-paying members?

The answer is behind door number three, where the small companies are hanging out.

We’re going to show you exactly WHY you should grab them and HOW to make it worth your while.

Why Your Association Should Actively Recruit Smalls

One of our clients is a large association in the human resources industry, with about 36,000 members, and an 88% retention rate. After some discussions about their membership goals, we helped them create a campaign that would specifically target smaller businesses in the industry.

They got more than 50 new members in a matter of two months.

Here’s what the Senior Vice President and Chief Membership Officer of the association told us the other day during our weekly check-in.

“Right now, we have so many applications coming in from new members that we can’t even process them all. And we are on course to set an all-time revenue high.”

There are so many things that are great about this. First, they have an influx of new people. New people bring new blood and new opportunities. Because the CEO of that $4 million company you just recruited might be the decision maker at a $25 million company in a few years.

You never know the energy and possibility that can come with ANY new member—and that includes one that is 10 times smaller than the largest organization on your roster.

Plus, when you have a rich blend of large, medium, AND small organizations in the mix, you’re much better able to uphold your mission of representing ALL voices in the industry.

And then there’s the most obvious thing: Smaller organizations are low-hanging fruit. No-brainer revenue. The benefits of belonging to your association far outweigh the dues for most of these smalls. You just need to take the time to articulate the right message to them.

How to Handle Smalls? Automate!

We know what you’re thinking: This all sounds good, but it takes effort to recruit smalls. And if we don’t put in the effort to retain them, they’ll leave after the first year and blow our retention rate.

We hear you, and you’re right. That is a challenge. Fortunately, there’s a great answer: Automation!

You know how we helped our HR industry association client get those 50 new members? We ran multiple digital campaigns for them throughout the year. That’s it. No heavy lifting required.

We helped them craft a targeted message. It required a modest initial investment, and then it ran itself—and it continues to run itself.

That same automation can work for onboarding and retention workflow. You probably can’t afford to hire a member representative who is solely dedicated to the smalls. But you can use modern technology to streamline the process.

Targeting small organizations allows you to grow your association, thoroughly represent the industry, and plant seeds for future growth.

We understand the challenges. But we truly believe this is one of the least-accessed, BEST opportunities right now for associations.

We’d be happy to bounce ideas around with you, and help you envision what a targeted campaign to the smalls would look like.

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Recession or Not, Your Association Must Do These 7 Things Now

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Do You Know Your Prospects’ Biggest Fear? It’s Not What You Think.

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Content Marketing Must Die. And Be Reborn as People Marketing.

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If one of the main benefits of your association or your annual conference is “networking” you have a problem. LinkedIn was made for networking. Sure it’s not industry specific and it’s not as personal, but it is free. Nearly every industry is represented there, so there’s bound to be individuals from your sector who are eager to connect and collaborate. There’s probably a special interest group too.

If another big benefit of your association or event is “thought leadership,” guess what? LinkedIn is giving you a run for your money there as well. LinkedIn is loaded with great ideas, insights, strategies, tips and tricks that could apply to your members’ businesses. Again, this content might not be 100% tailored to your specific space, but it’s free and it’s somewhat helpful.

What Am I Paying For?

For both networking and thought leadership, your potential members can invest precisely $0 and get a huge return in the form of somewhat relevant contacts and information. By comparison, your membership dues and event registration fees will seem like a big investment. People will want to know: “What do I get in return for investing so much money?

Quite often, an association will answer this question by saying, “We’re focused exclusively on our sector! We’re unique and customized to our space!” Also quite often, that same association will host a conference featuring big-name experts from other industries. Suddenly your argument of “we’re unique and focused” doesn’t hold up.


People will want to know: “What do I get in return for investing so much money?”


Payton Manning Won’t Cut It Anymore

A celebrity keynote speaker like Payton Manning, Erin Brockovich, or Steve Wozniak draws a crowd. They leave audiences feeling inspired and uplifted and, quite often, entertained. People go back to the office bragging about how they saw an A-lister live in the flesh. They might even have a notepad full of motivational quotes and pithy one-liners to share with their team. They likely also have a mittful of business cards from networking sessions and cocktail receptions.

Prior to 2020, these might have been reasons enough to invest time, money, and travel into your annual event. But they just don’t hold up any more. When faced with health and safety considerations, serious budget constraints, and a dire workforce shortage, your members and prospects are forced to prioritize their time and money. They simply can’t justify expensive entertainment, generic insights, and networking opportunities that they could get elsewhere—for cheap or free. 

Look Back Five Years

Look back at your annual conference agendas for the last five years. How many keynote speakers were from other industries? How many sessions featured presenters from other sectors? If a lot of your content isn’t specific to your industry, you will need a stronger answer to the question “What am I paying for?” If your strongest benefit is networking, then we’re back on LinkedIn where we started.

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3 Digital Marketing Tactics for Event Marketers

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3 Ways Associations Can Replace Lost Event Revenue

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New Tech Won’t Save Your Crappy Marketing

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6 Ways to Help your Association Thrive

Part 3: Marketing Assets

PART 3: Marketing Assets

This is the third post in our series 6 Ways to Help Your Association Thrive. If you missed our earlier posts, you can read about your cause and your marketing plan to catch up.

How to Attract Prospects and Members with Marketing Assets

People are more likely to engage with your brand in exchange for something tangible and beneficial. That’s why a good content-based digital marketing plan requires supporting assets to maximize outcomes.

What is a marketing asset?

A marketing asset, often referred to generally as “content,” can be almost anything from your association that offers value to your audience. Traditional marketing assets include whitepapers, infographics, how-to guides, e-books, webinars, videos, checklists, podcasts, survey results, industry reports, and many more. Thanks to new technology, marketing assets also include interactive content, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, chatbots, apps, and others.


What’s the right asset?

With so many types of marketing assets to choose from, how do you know which ones will work for your audience? The answer: the ones that give people what they need when they need it. Personalization is key to a successful content-based digital marketing campaign.

Here are a few considerations when determining your marketing assets:
  • Where are individuals in the customer journey? New prospects need different information than long-term members.
  • What’s going on in your industry? Tailor assets around current trends, technology, and industry events.
  • What are their goals? Offer tools that enable goals, help them develop professionally, or assist in planning for future growth and success.
  • What are their pain points? Provide information that will save them time and money, make their lives easier, or help them overcome obstacles.

How to personalize marketing assets

To effectively personalize your campaign, you may need to segment your list into two or three meaningful groups. For example, members, nonmembers, and sales reps. You can also use marketing automation to determine who gets what. For example, a workflow based on a series of if-then statements could trigger various marketing assets and follow-up communications depending on user behavior.

While personalization requires a little more work and forethought, the results are well worth your time. One research study from Experian showed that personalized email campaigns receive 29% higher open rates and 41% higher clickthrough rates than generic emails. Personalized marketing improves customer experience, which ultimately drives membership, non-dues revenue, and member engagement.


When in doubt, go visual and be quick

While your audience will have its own preferences, the current trend in marketing assets is to lean heavily on visual components. Additionally, keep in mind that time is always a concern for your members. Resources that save people time and are quick to digest are the most likely to generate outcomes.


Gated or ungated?

Gated marketing assets are those you give away in exchange for an action, such as providing an email address or starting an account. Gated content is a great way to build your prospect list. However, people won’t hand over their email address to just anyone. First, they need to trust that you offer value and that you won’t just spam them with more time-consuming emails.

When you give away your marketing assets with no strings attached, that’s known as ungated content. Ungated marketing assets demonstrate to your audience that you’re here to help, that you offer credible resources, and that you’re worthy of their trust. A good strategy to is to give away ungated content initially and eventually gate content to capture contact info.


How to get started

To get started using marketing assets to attract prospects and members, take a look at your existing materials. You might already have a stash of articles, interviews, infographics, podcasts, and more that can be used as-is or repurposed to support your cause and your marketing plan. If you need to create new materials, be sure they’re aligned with your existing brand’s look and feel for consistency.

Need more ideas for marketing assets? Download the checklist for 50+ ideas.

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6 Ways to Help your Association Thrive

Part 2: The Plan

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6 Ways to Help your Association Thrive

Part 1: The Cause

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How to Implement Omnichannel Marketing

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6 Ways to Help your Association Thrive

Part 2: The Plan

Part 2: The Plan

This is the second post in our series 6 Ways to Help Your Association Thrive. We’re covering six key marketing elements to help you reach your goals. If you missed our last edition, check out Part 1: The Cause.

How to Create a Digital Marketing Plan

Save time and money while boosting your marketing results with a quick and painless plan

So you know your cause, and you want to tell the world about it. You’ve got resources to share plus events to promote and products to sell. It’s tempting to blast your members and prospects with all these valuable things at once. But hold on a second…


Why you need a marketing plan

Getting attention and moving people to act involves a balance of timing, frequency, relevancy, and format. You need to meet your audience where they are or they won’t engage. Even a simple marketing plan can help you achieve better results while saving you time, money, and effort. Before you launch another promotion, stop and sketch out a plan.


Why your plan needs digital

You can’t improve results if you keep doing the same old thing. Now is a great time to embrace digital tools. Digital advertising and email automation enable precise audience targeting and follow-up based on actual user behaviors. With digital, you can customize each user’s experience with your brand to improve outcomes.


How to create a digital marketing plan

Planning a year of marketing might seem daunting, but it takes just seven steps.

1. Establish goals.

Set specific goals. If you want more members or event attendees, how many? What is your non-dues revenue target? Other goals might include web visitors or social media followers, email performance metrics, or improved member satisfaction. As much as possible, express your goals in hard numbers and concrete terms.


2. Get to know your audience better.

Dig deeper into your audience to improve your marketing like never before.

Consider three categories of data:
  • Demographics: age, gender, household income/company revenues, geography, years in business or profession, political affiliation, hobbies or special interests, etc.
  • History with your association: past purchase history, events attended, years as a member, volunteer positions, etc.
  • Data gleaned from online behaviors: web pages visited, articles or e-books downloaded, email opens, clicks etc.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a ton of data. With digital marketing, you will gain data as your campaigns progress. You can use what you learn to solidify and improve your efforts going forward.


3. Focus on value.

Go beyond networking, education, and certifications to focus on value. How will your association make people’s lives easier, save them money, or advance their careers? Brainstorm tangible benefits of your membership, events, products, and certifications. Calculate ROI whenever possible to prove you’re worth people’s time, money, and effort to engage.


4. Choose an engaging format.

Choose a format, platform, or channel based on your audience, goals, and budget. Some of the most effective strategies are email drip and nurture campaigns, social ads paired with helpful content (ex: whitepapers, e-books), and web retargeting. But you’ll need to test and track to see what works for your audience.


5. Create a marketing calendar.

Timing matters. Consider what else might be going on in your audience’s lives: holidays, industry events, competitor messages, other comms from your organization, etc. Schedule your promotions when they will have the least competition from other sources. Then make sure your team is aware of launches and prepared to field responses.


6. Execute.

Don’t fall victim to analysis paralysis. At some point you have to put your best foot forward and launch your initiatives into the world.


7. Track performance.

You must track performance and analyze results to know if your plan is working. From there, you can make adjustments on the fly or learn from past efforts to improve in the future.

Your cause is the driving force behind your organization, but without a plan you can’t reach your full potential. Adding digital marketing to your plan can further improve your results while saving you time and money. Ready to get started on your marketing plan? Download the free Sample Marketing Plan below to guide your efforts.

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6 Ways to Help your Association Thrive

Part 1: The Cause

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How to Implement Omnichannel Marketing

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What is Omnichannel Marketing and Why do You Need It?

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Is Your Association Putting Off Creating a Lead Gen Funnel?

If you’ve ever procrastinated on giving the-birds-and-the-bees talk to your kid or having an uncomfortable conversation with a friend, you know that we tend to put off difficult things.

We avoid difficult things in business, too. Often, we do the easy-to-understand thing over and over again, even if it produces poor results. The hard-to-understand thing promises better results . . . but it can feel so complicated!

We run into this thinking with associations when we talk about lead generation funnels and customer journeys. While no association executive has ever held their ears closed and said, “La la la, I can’t hear you!” when we talk about lead gen, we can tell from their frightened looks and body language it’s what they want to do.

If you’re afraid of a lead generation funnel, you’re afraid of the wrong thing. A lead gen funnel is the only thing standing in the way of your association becoming obsolete in the next five years. Tactics like random fishing on LinkedIn and buying lists to import into your database may have been effective once, but they no longer work.

You have to be smarter.

The good news is, we make it easy for you because we’ve done the hard work of engineering smart funnels that guide prospects along the journey they choose, so they wind up at your landing page, clicking “Join Now.”

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What is a Lead Generation Funnel?

Lead generation funnels solve a big problem for member organizations: They help you increase membership and event attendance. They do this by expanding your prospect pool, turning your prospects into qualified leads, and then turning your qualified leads into members.

A lead generation funnel is essentially a holistic, digital map that guides your prospects along a journey. It’s fully automated and built out using an “if/then” system.

For example:
  • IF a prospect clicks to watch a Facebook video, THEN they are taken to a landing page with a simple call-to-action to stay connected.
  • IF they enter their email on that page, THEN they go into a drip/nuture email campaign with its own set of “if/thens.”
  • IF they don’t enter their email, THEN they are re-targeted on Facebook, or perhaps another platform, and the process repeats.

A good lead generation funnel engages with multiple social media platforms and uses responsive list management software that ushers prospects through the journey.

Because it’s automated, after you create your funnel, all you have to do is hit “go.”


Know Your Numbers: Prospect Pools, Qualified Leads, and Conversion Ratios

A lead generation funnel helps you get clear on your numbers.

For example, do you have any idea how large your prospect pool is?

This is often the first stumbling block for associations. They have no idea what number they are starting with. Is it 500? 5,000? 50,0000?

This math matters, because you need to know how many people you’re starting with so you can keep track of the percentage of those people who become qualified leads, and then the percentage of qualified leads who become members.

These are your conversion ratios.

If you don’t know these ratios, you’re just guessing. And while guessing is a legitimate strategy on a standardized test when you don’t know the right answer, it doesn’t tend to hold up as a sustainable marketing strategy.

Your funnel will help to determine your ratios. You’ll be able to track how many people you are talking to each step of the way, so you know your numbers.


Conversion Assets: High Quality Content That Inspires

Your automation has to be spot-on, but your funnel is only as good as the content that feeds it.

You always need high-quality, sticky content, including captivating videos, well-written stories, and compelling graphics.

Though your prospect pool is large, you still need to think carefully about what will catch a prospect’s eye and hit their pain points. At each point along the way, you need strong conversion assets. These assets include landing pages, emails, videos, blog posts, social media posts, newsletters, webinars, and direct mail pieces.

Just because you’re introducing math into the mix, it doesn’t mean you can stop focusing on inspiring people. In fact, you need to focus even more strongly on inspiring people.

More than anything, you need to shift your thinking from one-off campaigns to a holistic approach that blends extraordinary storytelling with the best that marketing automation can offer.

Why put it off when it can make all the difference for the future of your association?

Instead of spinning around in overwhelm, let us walk you through what a lead gen funnel could look like for your organization. Contact Us Today >

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