Becoming global is an opportunity for associations to grow, and it is also a main challenge they are facing. Understanding associations and their need for expansion and delivering a legacy is the first step in the membership marketing plan to successfully attract membership from different geographical regions and cultures.
Membership marketing must be a continual process and has to be focused on working to understand your membership, establishing different strategies to clearly share the value of your association in order to attract new members and to keep those who are already members. Below is a breakdown of the most important steps to outlining your audience, connecting with and attracting them.
Make sure you have identified your target members, considering age, gender, income, location, culture, general interests, social networks - if they are active and which ones they use - Google Analytics can provide you with the general demographics of your audience to help you get started, and the problems they face on a day-to-day basis. Understanding your target makes prospecting and marketing so much easier.
Back to basics: simply ask your members about their needs and expectations, develop the channels that allow your association to communicate with your audience throughout the year and to receive feedback from them. Questions lead to conversations and engagement, which in turn leads to a better understanding of your target audience.
Regionalisation of the membership by chapters helps members to connect with their peers that are equal or similar in cultural realities, implications and social behaviour. Make sure to deliver a smart solution to the needs of each chapter focusing on their members. In this sense, the leaders of the chapters can also be helpful when analysing other associations that are competing for your target audience´s attention, so you can better understand weaknesses upon which you can then capitalize.
Establishing a 360° customer experience that focuses not only on members but also on the industry suppliers and other stakeholders to support your association, that will help to grow reputation, generate engagement and to deliver real value. This will grow the perception of current members that they are in the right association, to get more involved, to spread the word to potential members about the benefits of being a part of it and to enrol new members.
Investing in a useful CRM Program (Customer Relationship Management) or in an Association Management Software that can help you to track your members/chapters and to improve the delivery value you are giving to them. Understanding what is on the mind of your target audience can lead to insights that could influence your marketing strategy or the direction your association is or plans to, take.
Develop a digital marking plan that allows your association to communicate with strategic audiences. Start with the development of a professional web page that immediately communicates the value of your association to members, society and stakeholders and one which users can easily navigate and spend time - this can also help your website to gain relevance in organic Google searches.
Be careful to select the right social media channels and develop the content that fits with the empowerment that each of them can give you. For example, use Twitter to share relevant things that are happening in real time, such as your congress or annual event. Use LinkedIn to identify influencers that can introduce your association to potential members or that can simply promote your content and can help you to strengthen a positive perception of the actions and work that you are developing. LinkedIn has created powerful tools such as Sales Navigator to enable you to find new prospects and contact them. Facebook is still the king of social networks, use this tool to create and engage community; be careful of not “selling”, but in educating and fostering trust by providing free resources (share recent research, access to streaming or video on demand sessions in a complimentary basis, coaching, etc.). Videos on Facebook are a powerful tool to tell the story of your association, share members’ testimonials and more. The important thing is to make video content that is engaging and that speaks to the needs of your audience (one key message in a one minute video is recommended).
Measure your marketing campaigns or actions, by tracking who is showing interest (going to your web page, click on your social media ads, etc.), focus on the results and if necessary, adjust the strategy or boost it.
Increase your conversion rate. Once you have inspired the desire to be part of your association keep it simple and make it easy for your target audience to make contact with you or to fill a short form in your web; you can add a section of FAQs or videos explanations on how to make the process to become a member. Be careful to not overwhelm them with a lot of information, as this will cause confusion and a failure in the conversion of a prospect into a member.
Recommendation: Depending on your current strategy or the strategy you are trying to implement, my suggestion would be to work on one or two tactics and start developing, implementing and measuring results in order to understand your audience reactions and to continually improving your Membership Marketing Plan.
This article was provided by the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers, author Marcela Torres, Business Intelligence and International Sales Manager, Business Travel Consulting (BTC Americas). BTC Americas is a PCO, whose services accomplish a suite of functions integrating management consultancy, innovation and technology to achieve a high-performance support for the organisation of congresses. firstname.lastname@example.org
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