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Get Off Your @$$ and Get Social: How to Get Your Association Involved

How social is your association? Your association thrives on the involvement of both its members and the goodwill of others in your trade area and local community. What does that mean for your association? It means it’s time for your association to get social and build good relationships both online and offline. Here are ten ideas to get you started.
  1. Get involved in community events. From the local fête to a beach clean-up, look for chances to get your association involved with events happening in your local community. As well as getting your name known, you’ll get to know people in your locality, and establish your association as caring about its community.
  2. Host an icebreaker or fun day. Of course your AGM is important (see next point), but “come along to our AGM” won’t draw in non-members. Hosting a more laid back event is a proactive way to reach out to your local community. As well as potential members, you’ll be making connections with those who might not be interested in joining your organization, but who could be allies.
  3. Make your AGM or conference more social. An AGM or conference is a good way to get your members together for networking and discussion – but you have to make it appealing. From the way you market it to the general tone of the day, make sure your event is positive and worth the time and money to attend. Don’t forget the importance of social media and a mobile-friendly approach to your event.
  4. Involve your staff. If you want a more social association, start with your staff. Whether paid or voluntary, make sure your staff gets a chance to have their voices heard, and are offered plenty of motivation to get involved in your activities.
  5. Run a contest or giveaway. From a Facebook giveaway to a local prize draw, a contest can be an engaging way to get people involved with what you are doing. Rather than just asking for a name or a Facebook like, encourage involvement with a contest that needs some input from entrants.
  6. Sponsor something. Could your association sponsor something in your local community? From a local sporting event to your community theatre, sponsorship not only gets your name seen and known, it also establishes your association as community-minded and generous.
  7. Get talking. Being a good conversationalist should be part of your association’s social action plan. Talk to your members and others in your local community or trade area regularly. You can reach out with questionnaires, join or start a conversation on social media, or simply ask someone at a community event what matters to them.
  8. Encourage involvement. If you want to inspire your members to get more social, provide them with opportunities and make sure they know about them. Write up some interesting copy with eye-catching graphics to let them know what is going on, and how and why they should get involved. Keeping in touch is the key to encouraging your members to be more social, with you, with each other, with others in their sector, and with their local community.
  9. Make the most of social media. Social media is your opportunity to start and join in with conversations worldwide. Make the most of social media with regularly updated profiles that offer something interesting to your followers. Reach out to your members, prospects, and others in your industry with questions, information, and a friendly, approachable attitude.
  10. Get your voice heard. From local consultations to national topics of importance to your area of expertise, reach out beyond your own borders. Get your association involved with topics that are relevant to your association, and to the local community you operate in.

Keeping your association social is key to keeping its membership active and interested in being part of what you do, so don’t wait – get out there, and get social!

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Making Marketing Automation Work For Your Association

Does your association use automated marketing? Perhaps you associate automated messages with more sales-focused marketing efforts. In fact, as an association, you are selling your message, and marketing it should be one of your top priorities. With the current popularity of social media and the wealth of information and networking available for free, making your message and benefits clear to members has never been more important. Marketing automation can help you do just that. Here are some key areas in which marketing automation is good for associations, and what you can do to make the most of it.Marketing Automation for Assocations

Targeting Your Messages

Marketing automation works best when used in conjunction with a solid, well thought out plan. The messages your association sends out should have a very clear purpose, whether that is encouraging members to renew, inviting them to an event, or promoting a specific service. By using marketing automation, you can tailor the messages you send out to best connect with your members. For example, if a member is due for renewal, you can design a campaign to remind them to renew, and highlight how your association adds value to the life of that member. To do this you simply personalize the campaign based on their behavior and demographic to ensure the message speaks directly to their needs and concerns.

 

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How to Engage Millennials in Membership (Advice from a Millennial)

How many times a day do you hear the word “millennials”? I’m going to assume it’s a lot. Many employers are still learning how to speak the millennial language and weave them into a pre-existing organizational culture. They’re one of the larger demographics of consumers and they’re stepping (rather, taking leaps and bounds) into careers, promotions and leadership roles all around.

We all know associations can provide a multitude of opportunities to a professional in almost any field. There is networking, higher education, accreditations and certifications, sales leads, career opportunities, resume building experiences and more.

Startup Stock Photos

Startup Stock Photos

As of now, the working public includes both baby boomers and millennials (we are fast approaching the inclusion of Gen Z, too). There have been hundreds of new technologies introduced (AND phased out) in the time that is equal to the age difference between coworkers today. Continually evolving technologies can create discrepancies in workplace, especially when different age groups prefer different communication forms (e.g. email versus Slack). Associations can embrace differences rather than ignore them.

As a millennial, I can tell you what I expect from my membership. I look for networking opportunities that can happen offline AND online (opportunities that can overlap into my free time activities and personal goals, not trump them). I want you to come to my corner when it comes to communication. I expect your website to be up-to-date. I think you should be present on social media – and give me the facts and latest events, but do it with personality. I look for recognition opportunities (I want my friends and family to know that I’m kicking tail at work!). I want to get noticed as a stand-out employee by other employers, too. I want to meet and network with people of all ages and races and backgrounds. I like to go to events – and I expect free food and booze (even if I don’t say it). I hope that my membership fee is reasonable enough and beneficial enough for my company to view as an investment and not a liability.

Granted, I am only one person. There are many other millennials who might have smaller or larger expectations than the above. How is your association working to investigate what those expectations are, and, furthermore, how are you creating opportunity and loyalty with this new age of members?

It’ll be different for every association, but here’s a good place to start:

  • Invest time in getting millennial members on the phone or email and asking them what they want!
  • Involve millennials in content production: try a social media takeover, guest blog posts, etc.
  • Empower millennials through recognition or spotlights.
  • Be open-minded to change, advancements and progression.
  • Let millennials be brand ambassadors for your association (we do things in packs, you know).
  • Make all of the above clear in your communication efforts.

There is no crystal ball answer to winning over millennials. Even as marketers, we’ll never completely know what our audience expects and wants. It’s an age-old fact, though, that the best way to communicate is to first listen. And if there’s any demographic that wants you to listen, it’s millennials.

Have you seen great results in communicating with millennial members or potential millennial members? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

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Strategic Planning for Your Association

When was the last time you took a good, hard look at your association’s business plan? Now that we’re halfway through the year (can you believe it?!), it’s time to see what you have accomplished so far. By looking at what your plans were for this year and evaluating results up to this point, you can see what has worked and what hasn’t, helping you to make key decisions and adjustments for the second half of the year. In reality, best practices for marketing and overall association management are constantly changing. By looking ahead and developing a strategy, you will be able to make necessary adjustments in a time-conscience manner. Below are some practices to consider as you begin strategizing for the second half of the year.

Take a Goal-Oriented Approach

When planning for the future of your association, it’s incredibly important to take a goal-oriented approach. With tools and trends constantly changing, the first step is making an assessment of your current strategy. Researching new technology, the outside market, and competitors will help you surpass competition. Once research is completed, you can begin positioning your association and setting goals for the upcoming months. Come up with the direction that you want your association to take. Think about where you really need to improve. Whether it’s increasing membership levels or delivering more value-added benefits, make sure that you have a main focus.

Create a Strategic Business Plan

Once goals are set, it’s imperative to create a detailed strategic business plan. In doing so, you’ll be able to form a step-by-step guide targeted at achieving results. Begin by taking what you have already completed for research, and compile specific tactics aimed at your goals. The elements within your strategic plan should all be driven by underlying elements, including:

  • Financial plan, allowing you to project what your expenses will be in pro-forma statements.
  • Marketing plan, which should identify key communication, promotional, and lead generating tactics for your association.
  • Membership goals and strategies, indicating projected new members, along with methods for improving numbers.
  • Timeline & summary of key events, which will give you a high level outline of what the upcoming months will look like.
  • Roles and responsibilities, providing the necessary insights into what resources are required in order to achieve the desired results.
  • Measurement techniques. Remember you need to measure, monitor, and continually improve your efforts based on analysis.

Focus on Your Members

Not only is it important to make sure everything is running smoothly internally, it’s also essential to make sure members remain satisfied. Keeping your existing members happy is what truly matters for your association. They must come first and remain a top priority for your association every step of the way during the strategic planning process. By creating a satisfaction survey and sending it out to members, you will be able to see clear insights and feedback. This will not only help improve relationships, but it will also help you gain new members for the second half of 2016 and beyond. Showing members that you value their opinion is one key recommendation in an effort to maintain and grow.

Update Your Competitive Value Proposition

Lastly, developing an updated competitive value proposition will help set your association apart from others. Research what competitors are offering, and really try to get a grasp on why potential members may veer towards joining a different organization. By performing this due diligence, you will be able to update your messaging to state why your association provides more value. Ensure that your strategy encompasses methods for proving value to members, whether it be case studies, testimonials, or other methods of showing member satisfaction.

Now, keep these tips in mind and think about this: Is your association ready for the second half of this year? It might be tempting to say “yes, last year the second half of the year was successful, so I’ll continue on this path for the rest of 2016.” In reality, however, this is a dangerous mindset. Not adapting to the evolving marketing and overall business model landscape is a sure-fire way to see a decline in membership levels. Ultimately, updating your strategic plan is the best way to ensure a healthy and productive future.

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The Best Sources to Stay on Top of Marketing News

Anyone in the social media-marketing world knows that it can be difficult to turn your phone on silent, or go without it for a day. While we may have the luxury of working remotely, our devices are our desks, and those stay with us far beyond the typical hours of 9 to 5. The reality is social media does not sleep and our job, as marketing professionals, is to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

AM_Guest_062016So, what’s the secret to staying ahead of the game? Believe it or not, the answer is simple. Your source is everything – and most likely, you’re going to utilize more than one. (This will ensure that you’ve covered all your bases.) Sure, you could simply pick up a newspaper, or keep refreshing Twitter, but nobody, especially marketing professionals, has time for that. To help you be as efficient as possible, I’ve shared several apps and tools that effectively function as a news/media “strainer” – meaning everything you’re reading and absorbing will have significance. And while the news you need to know, and post about, certainly depends on your overall social media strategy, here are my favorite ways to find out what’s making headlines:

  1. New York Times Alerts

    This app will send you a notification when something major has just occurred. The Alerts serve as a warning for breaking news and what will soon be trending on all social media platforms. For instance, I woke up to a New York Times Alert on Sunday morning, June 12th, which read, “At least 50 are dead in the shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida, officials say; the shooter is identified as Omar Mateen.” Seeing this first thing Sunday morning gave me some time to try and process what had happened. I think it is important to get news like this from a highly credible source, especially as it unfolds, as opposed to finding out inadvertently on Facebook, Twitter or from friends.

  2. Refinery29 This AM

    Download this free app and find out the “8 Things You Need To Know This AM.” They cover everything from the Zika virus to campaign trail updates – and even that day’s most significant Entertainment news, like Justin Bieber’s new face tattoo. (I think the daily Entertainment piece is provided as comedic relief.)

  3. theSkimm

    This is an email newsletter that will arrive in your inbox first thing in the morning. In their words, “it makes it easier to be smarter.” And in my words, theSkimm is like the storytelling version of the Refinery29 app. If you’d like to read a quick summary alongside the daily headliners, this is the app for you. Vanity Fair called theSkimm “a must-have survival guide for any professional.” I definitely recommend trying it out. Even if you just skim theSkimm, you will get quick insight into the world today. By the way, you can now download Skimm Ahead, which will tell you what’s coming up; in other words, you’ll be in the loop before the loop exists.

Unlike the apps and email subscriptions listed above, these are more specific tools to help keep you in the know…

  1. Google Alerts

    This tool has been around much longer than some of the other apps I’ve mentioned; yet, it is still a relevant and valuable method of communication. Google Alerts can keep you notified in real-time about your clients and industry trends. Use this to track any time your client or company is mentioned so that you can immediately react. An email will hit your inbox to notify you and from there, your team can make moves.

  2. Twitter Lists

    Develop a Twitter list, private or public, with relevant news sources and/or influencers/thought leaders for your industry. Creating lists means having a curated feed. I recommend scrolling through this feed for a few minutes a day to discover relevant, trending stories to you or your client’s industry.

  3. Meltwater – Your Social Sidekick

    This email subscription tool will be delivered to your inbox each week. It will not inform you of breaking news, but lists a variety of things happening that month, as well as a dated summary of famous birthdays, national food days/holidays and even TV premieres. For instance, who knew today, Monday, June 20th is Vanilla Milkshake Day? Well, actually I do…because I subscribe to Meltwater’s Social Sidekick.

No one likes to feel left out when your co-workers talk about the latest headlines or today’s bizarre, but hilarious “National Food Day.” Adopting just one of these strategies will ensure you never receive the dreaded “have you seen this yet?” email ever again.

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