Your association no doubt puts out great pieces of content regularly; whether it be an amazing speaker, a panel, a research study or simply a paper or series of articles. Naturally you want your members to get the full benefit of this information. It’s why they joined your association to begin with! But what about releasing this stuff publically? It’s a long-standing debate among many associations with websites and YouTube channels: how much of our content should we hold on to and how much should we spread?
Sometimes you’ll think, “Share all of it! Everyone should know how great we are!” That’s a great instinct, but think like a marketer for a moment. If you give away all of your best stuff, why would anyone pay to join your association? Are you promising anything even cooler to members? And take that one step further, your current members could feel slighted that they’re paying for content that non-members are receiving for free. Add another layer in that it’s possible your attendance could drop. If a non-member sees that all of your content is available for free online, why would they pay an entrance fee when the speaker they would have paid to see will just be available online for free in a few weeks?
So then the natural next step is “Share none of it! I need to keep my members happy and keep recruitment up!” Besides, you may be thinking, who is going to stand in the back with a video camera anyway? Again, that’s not a bad instinct either. The whole point of membership-driven organizations is a sense of exclusivity and a unique boost that members get that non-members don’t. However consider two things:
1) No member will be able to make every event, no matter how clear his or her schedule is. It would be great for you to share that content with them, if for no other reason but to show understanding with a crazy schedule and that even if they can't attend 100% of the time they can still get 100% of the benefits of membership.
2) There are a lot of associations and clubs out there. Many things set yours apart, but there’s also a bunch who don’t update their websites, boast amazing programming, and then never deliver. You can prove you’re not that group, and your association is worth the time and money investment.
So how do you split the difference? Here are a few tips:
1) Post a few “teasers” online. They can be quick videos (think movie trailers) or assign someone to post relevant points on social media without giving away the whole enchilada. Teasers work, but be careful you don't give away everything. How annyoing is it when you see a movie because of the awesome trailer and all the jokes you've already heard before? Try promoting with a relevant, open-ended question: "What's the answer to the budget freeze?" or something along those lines.
2) Post your full content on a secure location, like your AMS. That way only your members can access the content and benefit from it, but it’s password protected from non-members.
3) Be strategic about what you give away in full. It’s a good idea to share the content that makes your association unique! So if you do post a complete piece of content, make sure it’s pretty impressive. Then promote it!
Finally, do a little more research. Content Marketing is a pretty cool way of “selling something” by attracting customers with useful, relevant, and unique content. Just put the phrase into your search engine and learn a little about it. It’s particularly relevant for associations who have no shortage of amazing offerings but limited time and money to try for aggressive membership recruitment drives and campaigns.
We mentioned using your AMS to keep things members-only. Do you have an AMS? Are you shopping for one? If so, don’t make another move before consulting our free AMS shopping guide!