Your Association's Identity Needs a Strong Brand Message
You've created your brand.
You have a logo, letterhead, and know what you want people to see.
Every member of your organization knows what you stand for, there can be no doubt.
So, why aren't people flocking to your banner? Why hasn't your membership grown?
There was a time when an association's name alone was enough to draw an audience in. A table at the university graduation would swell membership every year. By the same token, many members of community organizations have fond memories of the times they spent with their parents at local events.
That time and growth doesn't seem to exist anymore. Associations can't rely on traditional association branding alone for building and maintaining their brand message.
Your Brand Message Must Adapt to the Changing World
You hear about it all the time: memberships are down. Traditional membership growth is under attack. But what from? There are many reasons, including:
- The workforce is changing. With the advance of technology, fewer children are following in their parents' footsteps. This is due to the obsolescence of some professions while at the same time the establishment of others. That connection to the professional association your mother or father belonged immediately loses its value.
- We just don't have the time. Everyone is busy these days and those who suffer the most are our children. More and more, our children are left in front of a video screen. It is a dangerous precedent as we participate less in community organizations.
- Blame it on Netflix. The way we watch television is changing as well. With the advent of cord cutting, we have been introduced to binge watching. We spend more time in front of a screen and less time participating in community organizations.
- Just Google it. With so much information readily available from the Internet, people do not need associations for learning as much.
- Too many choices. Everyone seems to have a raison d'etre or pet project these days. With more causes filling social spaces, more organizations have sprung up, and people have been forced to split their time and funding.
- Crowd sourcing. The introduction of crowd sourcing programs allow anonymous donations, which is good, but without participation, which is bad.
- Like it and forget it. Social Media allows people to click a button to "like" a social injustice without actively participating to correct it.
Society has changed over the last few decades. Technological advances have had significant effect on our participation in professional and community organizations.
But then, if participation is down, how does an organization compensate while building and maintaining its brand message?
Keeping Membership Going
There are only two methods. You either bring in more people through the front door or lose fewer going out the back door. An association's brand message can achieve both, however those associations can't rely on traditional branding alone for that messaging.
Think of traditional branding methodology as the base of a tower. It is a solid base that you can build on. In fact, branding will dictate the form of your building. That logo and the letterhead will inform the rest of your marketing. Marketing isn't a field of dreams, however. You can't build it and just expect your audience to come. You need to invite that audience in.
Your audience only has so many hours in the day. They can either spend it looking at your brand message or cat videos. Unfortunately for you, YouTube has made it too easy for people to find cat videos so you have to convey your message differently. You can't expect the children of your current members to automatically join, nor can you expect the same level of funding when your donors have to choose between your organization and your neighbour's.
According to Salesforce, the world's number 1 customer relationship management provider, "Consumers are immune to traditional advertising and marketing strategies." This means the way by which organizations, whether they are for-profit or not, draw their audience in, is far different than it was even a few years ago. In fact, Salesforce estimates that to convert a prospect takes between 6 and 8 touches.
Your organization has to compete. And a strong social media and content strategy will help you do just that. More content will lead to more "touches." Rethink your association's brand message methodology or risk falling by the wayside.
Building on almost two decades of small business experience, John Kent is a former financial industry insider who offers business coaching to new entrepreneurs at Business Plans Profit. Check out his blueprint for new businesses there.
Getting your brand messaging no track can sometimes require improved communications between your CEO and other operational staff. Consider attending the CSAE Symposium for Chief Staff and Chief Elected Officer. Click the button below for details.