Being that Ottawa is Canada’s capital, there are lots of trade and professional associations here. One website suggests that there are more than 1,500 associations in Ottawa alone out of the 70,000 associations registered in Canada.
No matter what type of association we have worked with (and we've worked with hundreds of associations over the years), we can boil their marketing challenges down to the following:
- Increase membership and/or sources of revenue
- Manage or streamline costs
Here are 4 marketing tips for associations looking to overcome these challenges.
Create Buyer Personas
You can save a lot of money by making sure you’re branding to the right people -- those who actually have an interest in your organization. If you do a little market research and pull up any data you have about your existing members, you can draw up some personas which are representative of your ideal members.
This will help you stay focused on a specific audience, saving you time and money. There are a whole lot of sites that you can reference about “how to create a buyer persona” (try typing that into Google, for instance), but you can start with this post from Buffer.
Use Free or Low-Cost Tools
There are lots of free or little-cost ways to get your message out to the right people at the right time.
Here are a few of our favourites:
Social MediaUsing Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, you can send out photos, video, and text about what your organization is all about. This is particularly useful for attracting Generation Y, the roughly 18- to 37-year-old age group. Ninety percent of young adults are using social media. Also, make sure your association is on LinkedIn if you aren’t already. It’s a great way to reach existing members, new members, journalists and Members of Parliament. Make sure you use your existing branding and logo on your LinkedIn company page. Put your membership staff on separate pages on LinkedIn, too, with their own profiles and profile photos. This way, if people find your staff, they’ll find your association -- and that works in reverse, too.
Blogging is another relatively inexpensive way to communicate your brand. You can position yourself as a thought leader or simply as a fun place to work (the latter being especially useful if you’re looking for new employees). People will be attracted to your association via search engines and social media, so if you position yourself as someone with interesting and new things to say, you can build your brand awareness. You can get started by setting up a blog with very little investment in Wordpress.
Optimizing Your Association Website
One of our biggest marketing tips for associations is to make sure your website is optimized for the outcomes you are looking to achieve. Take some time to map out what you want people to do on your website and how you're measuring those goals. Goal tracking is fairly easy (and free) in Google Analytics.
Make sure that the site is user-friendly. If it’s easy to navigate and find information, chances are more people who are relevant to your organization are going to use it. If your site has a members-only section, ensure, too, that it actually adds value for subscribers. And, if you haven’t already, make sure your association’s vision, mission statement and member benefits are clearly articulated on your site.
Staid websites, after all, don’t generate traffic. One of the ways you can keep things fresh is by posting success stories every time your association reaches a particular milestone.
Simplify Your Messaging
You know that old adage, “Jack of all trades, master of none?” The same holds true of your marketing messages. If you tell existing and potential members too many things, they will likely forget everything.
However, if you stick with one or two key marketing messages and are consistent in how you broadcast them, people will really begin to remember them and, ahem, associate your association with those things exclusively -- which is important for being effective in your marketing and branding efforts.
Reach Out to Cyan Solutions
Are you an association? Do you need expertise in coming up with a marketing strategy on a budget? Contact Cyan Solutions.