When joining an association, membership has its privileges. Typically, associations offer professionals a wide range of perks such as subscriptions to industry publications, career development training, access to events and discounts on products and services.
There are also less tangible, but even more important, benefits to association membership. These include a built-in network of thought leaders that you can go to for advice and insight, being part of a group that understands the challenges you face in your day-to-day job and simply the prestige that comes with identifying yourself as an association member.
But how do you effectively communicate these benefits to boost association membership and increase awareness among existing members?
The first step is doing research to determine who your key stakeholders are, what motivates them, where they are located and how they consume information.
The second step involves developing strategies to engage target audiences. Insights gained from your research should form the foundation of your plans, which should be customized for each target audience and speak to their specific concerns and needs. For instance, if some association members are executives, highlight offerings such as leadership seminars, workshops or online courses. But for mid-level managers, maybe promote networking opportunities or industry events that could help them climb the corporate ladder.
Lock and Load
Next, create a multi-pronged outreach plan for spreading the word about these benefits, using both print and online media.
Direct mail is one option for print but you can also take advantage of free event listings in newspapers and trade magazines. Or develop a PR pitch for the offerings in an effort to earn free media exposure.
For online media, use your association blog as a platform to tell the story about your benefits and then promote on social media channels. Make sure to craft your message so it’s relevant for each channel. Use industry-specific hashtags to categorize your Tweets, create compelling imagery on Facebook posts (research shows photos generate more “likes” than standard posts), develop a quick, stop-motion animation video on Vine to creatively explain the benefits and promote blog content on relevant LinkedIn groups.
Identify owners who will be driving these outreach activities and draft editorial calendars to track progress.
Before, during and after these tactics are deployed, monitor metrics such as page views, responses to direct mail, shares, retweets and likes. Analyze these metrics and adjust your efforts as needed to ensure you are effectively communicating the benefits of association to your stakeholders.