The State of Association Marketing: Doing More With Less

By: Kristen Parker

The No. 1 rule of marketing: Know your audience.

state of association marketing

It may seem a no-brainer, but too many organizations engage in failed marketing campaigns. For marketing to work, organizations must truly understand their members.

Associations seem to get it, but still have work to do.

Demand Metric, in partnership with HighRoad Solution, just released its The State of Digital Marketing in Associations 2017, which found 76 percent of associations surveyed rank their marketing efforts as somewhat or very effective.

Marketing teams need to take time to learn from their members and tailor efforts to their members’ wants and needs. Organizations seem to understand that, as more than two-thirds claim to understand their members’ needs.

Yet, just one-fourth report members perceive association marketing and communication efforts as “always relevant and professional.” But associations that have a good member understanding are twice as likely to also report their member communications and marketing efforts are perceived as “always relevant and professional.”

See the disconnect?

Other key findings:

  • Association marketing effectiveness has less to do with what tactics are being used, and more to do with how well they are used. Associations in the study are for the most part doing the same things, but some are much better at it. The difference seems related to skills or execution and not the choice of tactics.
  • More associations are leveraging social media advertising with back-to-back yearly increases in Facebook and Twitter paid advertising. There has been an increase in almost every category of marketing metrics usage from the previous year’s study. The average, estimated association marketing budget has gone from $260,000 (2015), to $240,000 (2016) and finally $205,000 in this year’s study. And now, more than ever, associations are being forced to do more with less.

“Making an effective use of any marketing tactic is certainly a function of time to learn and train, but the effect of culture and leadership are also factors,” the report says. “Marketers who function in a perpetual ‘hair on fire’ environment lack the culture that would allow them to take the time to learn how to use their tools and tactics more effectively.

“What we can learn from the study data is that a relationship exists between the depth of member understanding and overall marketing effectiveness.”

Author: Kristen Parker

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Engaging Your Association's Introverts: 3 Tips

By: Callie Walker

You’ve probably heard and read a lot about introverts. You might even BE an introvert. But are you taking enough action to engage your association’s introverts?

If not, it might be time to offer a few new outlets/opportunities. In fact, here are three specific ways to engage your association’s introverts:

1. Provide them with quiet time/spaces at your meetings and events

It’s a common misconception that introverts don’t like being around people. That’s not true. Rather, introverts just need time alone to recharge. Extroverts get their energy from being around people. Introverts, on the other hand, sometimes feel drained after being around people. They get their energy from spending time alone.

That said, make sure you’re tapping into those needs at your association’s next event. If you have an annual meeting or conference - something that lasts a full day or more - consider having a quiet room where attendees (and your introverted members in particular) can go and relax. This will allow them to engage with your association while still feeling comfortable and true to who they are.

2. Provide them with individual volunteer opportunities

Often, volunteer opportunities are presented in groups. For example, committees. Committees are ongoing and group-oriented - and sometimes, that can be unappealing to your introverted members.

But that’s not to say your introverted members don’t want to volunteer. They do, so just make sure you're providing them with individual opportunities. These could be things like writing*, planning, handling administrative tasks, etc. The more opportunities you provide, the more opportunities they’ll have to get involved.

(*Note: Introverts are often great writers. They’re deliberate communicators and like to put time and thought into what they’re saying. That said, take advantage of that at your association. Encourage your members to write copy for your newsletter, your blog, your online social community, etc. We bet you’ll see some traction.)

3. Provide them with online outlets and platforms to speak out

We all know it’s easier - and less intimidating, for sure - to talk online than it is to talk in front of a big group of people, especially if those are people you don’t really know. Again, turn that into an opportunity for your association. Set up social media accounts and an online social community where your introverted members can go and speak out/meet others. This can be a starting point for them to meet people and engage. Then, when they’re at events, they can more comfortably chat with others, particularly if they’ve interacted with those people a few times prior.  

At the end of the day, engaging your introverted members is all about respecting their likes and personal preferences. The more opportunities you provide that are in line with those preferences, the more engagement you’re likely to see all around.

Want more tips for engaging your members, regardless of whether they’re introverts or extroverts? Check out our free guide, Membership Engagement for Small-Staff Associations, below!

Author: Callie Walker

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