Association Marketing: What works … and three words to avoid

Posted 4 MarchBlog, News


The Art of Membership

The Art of Membership

In her new book The Art of Membership: How to Attract, Retain and Cement Member Loyalty (ASAE-Wiley, 2014), Sheri Jacobs, CAE, writes that “if a membership organization is to succeed in today’s competitive environment, it must attract, recruit and retain engaged members who will hep the organization thrive.” Packed with research and insights from her own experience and relationships, the book is filled with case studies and real-world examples, guides, checklists and worksheets to help marketers break down concepts from goal to strategy to tactics. Buried deep in Chapter 5, she also shares some simple advice for how association marketers can develop an outreach plan that makes sense for them and their members.  

Step 1
Segment your marketing efforts by the following elements:

  • Tone
  • Message
  • Benefits
  • Features
  • Calls to action (CTAs)/incentives
  • Timing

Step 2
Differentiate and humanize your organization:

  • Avoid use the words Networking, Information, and Education. They’re the most overused words in association marketing, says Jacobs. Words like these are stale and don’t resonate. Instead focus on incorporating stories and a conversational tone into your marketing efforts.

Step 3
Increase the frequency of communication:

  • Nine to 10 mailings, three or four emails, and three phone calls over a period of three months proved to be the most successful way to gain new customers, according to a 2010 study by the Journal of Marketing.

Step 4
Create a sense of urgency with strong CTAs:

  • Audit your marketing materials to ensure that every email, letter, postcard, brochure or digital marking piece includes a strong CTA.

Step 5
Leverage content to acquire new members:

  • Develop a content marketing program. Don’t just blast out the same information about conferences, member benefits and events. Identify topics of high interest or concern within your community. The key, according to Jacobs, is connecting relevant and interesting content to your organization’s offerings.

It may seem like a lot to tackle one of these steps, let alone all five, but a highly targeted marketing program is more likely to provide you with the results you desire, writes Jacobs. “It requires dedication of time and resources, but the payoff is worth the effort.”
What works for your organization?

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