Associations looking to connect with current or prospective members more effectively face two key challenges. Specifically:
- Finding ways to engage different demographics that communicate in very different ways.
- Quickly helping audiences understand the value that they can offer them.
Deciding which exact channels to base your communications strategy upon (e.g., email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) isn't particularly difficult if you understand where your audience lives online, though. The real challenge is mastering the common thread -- effective storytelling -- which ties all together. Luckily, a slight shift in perspective is all it takes to change the message you're sending, and create more positive takeaways when it comes to overall value perception.
Following are seven tips that can help your association quickly grab audiences' attention, and instantly paint a clear and compelling picture of the benefits of membership in their minds.
1) Focus on Solutions
You can give yourself an instant boost in credibility by helping others meet the business challenges they face on a day-to-day basis by continually offering answers to their most pressing problems. Articles, videos, webinars, whitepapers, post-mortems, case studies, and other results-focused content can quickly save audiences time, money and effort -- and consistently remind them of the ROI you provide. The more you become a go-to resource, and faster you help audiences move from problem to solution, the easier you'll find it to demonstrate your ongoing value and relevance.
2) Promote Thought Leadership
Don't just be the leading source of industry news and happenings. Be the leading source of insight into them -- and first place members turn when they're determining how to best adapt to current or evolving trends. Remember: equally important as providing others a peek into where the future is headed is helping them chart a path from here to there. You'll always be in-demand if you design education programs and events to go beyond simply providing snapshots of evolving business landscapes to provide the specific tools, technologies, and resources members need to chart a path forward. The faster and more readily you can equip partners to greet change, the faster and more easily comprehended the benefits that you provide will be.
3) Get Members Talking
Ask thought-provoking questions about topical issues and invite audiences to weigh in. Then use their feedback to craft more engaging programs and content going forward. Polls, surveys, and questionnaires can also help you glean deeper insight into what moves current or prospective members -- and simultaneously obtain original insights or data that your association can also share or publicize as part of future programs.
4) Celebrate Your Community
Rather than highlight yourself, highlight your members: shine the spotlight on colleagues and their ideas, and provide audiences with a platform to offer their insights, takes and feedback on topical items of interest. Tight on bandwidth for tackling new issues as well? Consider crowdsourcing advice, input, and even user-generated content from your community at large. Even the largest associations only have so much bandwidth. Get your public involved, and you can bring far more people and resources to bear to tackle any given problem or topic, boosting the results of these efforts exponentially.
5) Be a trusted guide
Social networks and online forums are like cocktail parties: while everyone's got something to say, no one wants to hear someone hog the entire conversation. When engaging in online dialogue, Business Insider suggests that you follow the 60/20/20 rule. This means that 60% of the time you should be spent proactively engaging your audience, 20% spent sharing content your audience will care about, and the remaining 20% should be spent talking about your organization.
6) Help others' picture your benefits
Associations often have no shortage of data, while members go unawares, or struggle to understand this data's upsides, let alone make use of it. The use of simple charts and graphics can help you bridge this gap. Infographics, video clips, diagrams, and other visual assets can help you communicate complex information faster -- and in such a way that current or prospective members can instantly recognize the value of the information being provided.
7) Find more ways to leverage every asset
Make content shorter: Break lengthy speeches, reports, or event recaps into brief articles, blog posts, social network posts, or newsletter updates. Make content longer: Anthologize blog posts and articles into eBooks, group video clips into online training programs, or build presentations based on the best tips and insights that members have shared on social networks. Finding myriad ways to repackage and represent material can help you find many ways to help and assist audiences in differing contexts while also using it to suit a variety of different purposes, creating a win-win scenario for both sides.
Award-winning professional speaker and trends expert Scott Steinberg is a bestselling expert on leadership and innovation, and the author of Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty and Millennial Marketing: Bridging the Generation Gap. Among today's leading providers of keynote speeches, workshops and seminars for associations and Fortune 500 firms, his website is www.AKeynoteSpeaker.com.
When the time comes to develop a strategy for promoting your association online, you'll likely need to get your team together to talk it over. This can be where plans fall apart, as team members see things differently or have different objectives and methods in mind. Attend our Effective Team Meetings webinar to discover how to stop wasting time and strive towards successful discussions and brainstorms.