Associations and nonprofits share a marketing dilemma unlike traditional for-profit businesses. The target market and demographics for a business are centered around prospective clients and existing clients. Nonprofits and associations have a limited target audience, which consists of existing members, sponsors and exhibitors. Planning and effective execution of marketing concepts for services, such as online courses, requires a different approach to be successful.
Tips for Marketing to Association Members
- Go off-line, too. Online marketing and social media definitely has its place in the marketing world, and is in fact the “go-to” strategy for most businesses today. It is a good idea, however, to use a mixture of online and off-line strategies when marketing events and classes to association members. When marketing online courses or events to members, identify the best platforms for reaching them simply by asking. On membership forms, applications, and registration forms, be sure to ask about which social media platforms, magazines, trade publications and blogs people like most then make an effort to advertise there.
- Include your network in marketing efforts. Network, network, network! Do not under estimate the power of networking when trying to get the attention of association members. Contact people in your network to boost your marketing efforts and reach more members. Ask sponsors, speakers, and exhibitors to promote online courses, tradeshows, and other association opportunities on their social media pages, blogs and websites to spread the word about the opportunity you have for members.
- Create a buzz. To create interest and get association members to notice your opportunity, make it a big deal. Reach out to members by hosting live social media chats on Twitter, create webinars featuring professional speakers, and have a ‘Question and Answer’ opportunity for members to learn more. For instance, if you are offering members educational opportunities via online courses, have instructors create a video about their course and what students can expect. Also, have previous course participants explain what they gained from the course, and make social media posts with these videos to create a buzz and excitement.
- Keep it relevant to get interest. Remember that the overall success of your marketing efforts ultimately comes down to how relevant and valuable your opportunity is perceived to be to your target audience. No matter how much effort you put forth, it is crucial to offer association members something they want or need to get them excited and engaged. If they are a fan, chances are the word will spread quickly through the association and more members will become interested.
- Keep in touch. Investing in a web-based email marketing tool is an effective and productive way to keep in touch with association members. Sending creative and personalized newsletters and emails to let members know about your latest class offering, trade show, or event is a sure way to get their attention. For extra incentive, be sure to include an offer ‘just for association members’ or spotlight current members who have participated in past classes or events that would recommend it to other members.
- Meet Your Members Where They Are. Make sure to build a presence on the communications channels that your members go to for their information. Group your tactics across media using the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) convergence model to make the most of marketing efforts.
Though different marketing tactics are needed to target association and nonprofit members, a combination of practices can help you successfully market your services, which will not only increase the use of your online courses but will also increase your credibility and loyalty. Don’t skimp on your marketing efforts because members who are unaware of your benefits will not be members long. Use these tips to guarantee your members aren’t left in the dark.