In the post-COVID landscape, associations face the daunting task of reevaluating their value proposition and engagement strategies for the influx of new virtual participants. This surge in virtual engagement revealed a previously untapped audience eager to get involved. To retain and engage these members, associations need to embrace an audience-centered approach, leveraging data-driven insights to tailor offerings and communication.
In a recent Good Marketing Unplugged podcast conversation, Robb Lee, who at the time of the conversation was the Chief Marketing Officer, American Society of Association Executives, sheds light on how associations can prioritize agility, audience-centered strategies, and data-driven decision-making. In this article, we share actionable tips for marketing leaders at associations.
Shaping Organizational Direction Through Marketing
Marketers have the potential to make a substantial impact in reshaping an organization's direction. Their expertise in strategic analysis and data-driven decision-making equips them to steer the organization toward its goals. Here’s how marketing leaders can lean into these strengths:
Connect Emotionally with Your Audience: Begin by emphasizing the emotional aspect of marketing. Connect with your audience on a personal level to create powerful marketing campaigns that resonate with them.
Adapt and Reset Your Approach: In a rapidly changing marketing landscape, it's crucial to adapt and reset your strategies to stay relevant. Keep a close eye on emerging trends and be willing to make necessary changes.
Shift from Execution to Decision-Making: Actively guide organizational strategies rather than just executing marketing plans. Your input can shape the direction of your association, so position yourself as a decision-maker.
Tailor Your Conversations: Follow Rob’s continuum approach, shifting from the Socratic method to a tactical approach based on the context of your discussions.
Customize your communication style to address immediate needs effectively.
Balance Priorities: Striking a balance between short-term execution and long-term strategies is essential. Ensure you are not solely focused on daily tasks but are also looking at the bigger picture to drive future success.
This approach isn't just about sparking impactful transformations; it's also about producing concrete, beneficial outcomes for their associations and members.
Fostering an Audience-Centric Approach
Robb places an emphasis on an audience-first or channel-agnostic approach. This entails prioritizing the channels where your target audience is most active and then tailoring your marketing strategies to engage them effectively. The crux of this approach lies in acquiring a deep understanding of your audience's demographics, preferences, and interests. Rather than adhering to a rigid, channel-specific strategy, the focus should be on reaching your audience where they are.
Determining where to focus your marketing efforts
To pinpoint areas for your association's marketing focus, here are some questions you can ask yourself and your team:
How well do we understand our audience's preferences and behaviors?
Are there new channels we haven't explored to reach them effectively?
Are our marketing efforts truly responsive to our audience's changing needs?
How can we implement adaptive learning models within our marketing strategies?
How closely aligned are our marketing goals with the overarching objectives of our association? In what ways can our marketing team act as problem solvers?
Are we leveraging the full potential of professional advisory committees and communities to foster member engagement? What strategies can we implement to encourage peer-to-peer collaboration?
Are we actively participating in industry events and associations?
How can we maximize our involvement to stay informed and connected?
Ultimately, it is essential to prioritize marketing efforts that center on resolving organizational issues and providing value to your association's community or members. By harmonizing your marketing strategies with the organization's goals and challenges and obstacles, you can guarantee that the outcomes benefit the entire association. This emphasis on delivering value serves as a pivotal element for achieving success in the realm of association marketing.