Your Association’s Marketing Plan Isn’t Working as Well as You Think It Is

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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