As as association professional, you understand the importance of marketing. But actually doing it, well, that’s a different story.
If marketing isn’t necessarily your forte, allow us to help. Here are a few tips for marketing your association through your organization’s website, email, social media sites, and word-of-mouth marketing:
Your website is the first point of contact people have with your association, so it needs to be in tip-top shape. First, focus on the basics. For example, navigation. When a prospect comes to your website, they should be able to get from A to B (and C and D) with ease. Walk through your website and make sure the navigation is simple and logical. (Note: You may want to ask one of your members or an outside party to help with this. You’re familiar with your website so you may not catch some of the hang-ups first-time visitors might have.)
Once the navigation has been simplified, start focusing on updates. Walk through your site and make sure everything is up to date: your website copy, your event calendar, internal and external links, etc. In order for your site to be effective, it first has to be accurate.
Emails are a great way to market your association. That said, they’re only effective if people actually read them. So the big question then becomes how do you get people to actually read your organization’s emails?
Well for starters, make them valuable. Don’t just send an email for the sake of sending an email. Make sure it has a purpose and provides the recipient with value. Another tip: personalize the content. If you have a prospect’s name stored in your organization’s database, include that in the opening line of your email. Now don’t feel like you have to manually do this for every email you send. If you’re using an association management system, or AMS for short, the AMS can actually pull that information for you (because it’s linked to your organization’s database). That means you can personalize hundreds upon hundreds of emails without having to do any extra work. (And no, this isn’t a dream!)
Social media marketing
It’s no secret that social media is a critical marketing tool. Sometimes, people go looking for a social media page before they go looking for an actual website. That says something, and it means you need to have at least somewhat of a social media presence.
Now you don’t have to be on every social media site out there, but it does help to be on at least a few. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are typically the most popular for companies and organizations, but only do what makes sense for YOUR association. What platforms are your members and potential members using? That’s where you should be active.
This is perhaps the hardest type of marketing to employ (because it’s out of your control), but it’s also the most effective - so it’s definitely worth some time and effort.
To get started with word-of-mouth marketing, first, identify your member advocates - people who are champions of your organization. (These are probably your most engaged members and those you likely see the most.) Once you’ve identified who those people are, reach out to them and see if they’d be willing to help market your association. This could include things like sharing your posts on social media, posting on their own ABOUT your organization, inviting friends to meetings and events, etc. In return, you could offer them perks - free swag, discounts on event registrations, a free subscription to one of your elite publications, etc.
Now this is obviously just an overview of how to get started with association marketing. For a more thorough look (complete with tips and best practices), check out our Small-Staff Guide to Association Marketing below!