by Shannon Otto
Nobody cares about your products and services except you. This knowledge is essential to great marketing because it gets your organization away from just yakking incessantly about your products and services. What your buyers do care about are themselves and they care a great deal about solving their problems (and are always on the lookout for a company that can help them do so).
— David Meerman Scott, author of Real-Time Marketing and PR (source)
Although Scott isn't specifically discussing small-staff associations, I think a lot of what he says rings true for the nonprofit world. Your members (buyers) are the ones who are looking to advance in their industries and grow professionally. What problems do they have in their jobs and industries? How does your association help them solve those problems? These are the questions you need to be asking when you're developing or tweaking a marketing strategy.
How do you discover what those problems are? Ask your members. Be friendly. Take a few minutes to call various members and say, "Hey. We're here for you. How can we make your job easier? What's bugging you about your job?" I guarantee you that there are at least a few complaints they have. And maybe your association can't help them with everything, but even just listening is a good start.
Instead of just talking about the great products and services your organization offers, ask members for testimonials. How did your conference give them new ideas to bring back to the office? Did your organization's mixer help someone get a job? Real-life testimonials like those are things that potential members (and current ones) will benefit from.
How does your organization show — rather than tell — how its services benefit members?