There is a new movement in marketing that even P&G, Wal-Mart and Kraft can’t ignore. Marketing used to thrive on the masses. Marketing average products to average people was very profitable. Good business was in mass marketing, mass advertising and mass manufacturing.
Traditional marketing worked because we had very little choice. When I was a kid, we had only three channels, two spaghetti sauces and no Internet. Marketing twenty years ago was not all that difficult. By and large if you built it, spent enough money adverting it and merchandised it, consumers would buy it.
It wasn’t only the big box retailers and consumer products companies that adopted the mass marketing mindset. Other organizations, even associations, adopted it as well. We want more members therefore we deliver what we think most members want. Appealing to small member segments was never that lucrative compared to mass member marketing.
The promise of mass marketing is breaking down. Traditional channels – print, radio and TV are exponentially more plentiful so it has become harder and more expensive to demand attention. Additionally, we are finding that attention is the currency of the new Internet-age. Average buyers may purchase an average product from you, but will they be delighted with it enough that they share it with their colleagues?
One of the big strategic issues for associates as they move ahead will be: do they continue to focus on average members or should they start to focus more on unconventional members? Focusing on the members who are more connected, who are the best advocates or are the first-movers may be better than focusing on average. These special member segments cannot only help you spread the word, they can also help make your association more remarkable.
Focus on the connected – some of your members are super connected. They have a large following on social media. Members who are well followed, like bloggers for example, have large and engaged audiences. They may have long contributed to the community. Or perhaps they are natural networkers. These folks know many of the people you would like to have as your members. They also have the inside scoop on their industry and they are having the conversations where those-in-the-know are discussing trends and potential issues.
Focus on the advocates – advocates love what your organization stands for. They may be big advocates the profession or the industry. They have received tremendous value from the association. They tend to want to volunteer and contribute. If they can, they make sure their newer staff become members as well. These members evangelize your organization every chance they get.
Focus on the first-movers – first-movers focus on the future of the profession or industry. They may be technologically savvy or at least understand the implications of new technology. They are interested in innovation and will be early to test or adopt new technologies and processes. These folks are particularly open to testing new products and providing feedback.
As you think of your association’s future goals are there one or more of these groups that you should be courting? Perhaps they get to see your new product launches first or for free. Maybe they get to attend a special event to learn more about your association, industry issues or just to meet each other. Or maybe you want to ensure they have the best possible member experience – you can list them for frequent and personal check-ins; a sort of personal concierge for the association.
Help these special members have remarkable member experiences and maybe they will tell others like them about your association.
Many associations are marketing in a way that doesn’t resonate with members but a very few have figured out how to create marketing that matters. Find out about modern member marketing on http://www.smooththepath.net where Amanda Kaiser also discusses story telling for members, innovation and member insights. Follow her on Twitter at @SmoothThePath.