We conducted our most recent College of Association Marketing program on Association Sales and Marketing in mid November and we wanted to share some of what we presented during that program. (I am a little late in posting this, but then again starting a blog was one of my New Year's resolutions for 2009 so being a month behind is better than my normal track record!)
Scott presented on creating a sales culture within your association, I spoke about marketing for non-dues revenue generating programs within your association, and Lewis Flax now a consultant and formerly with IEG, the big sponsorship consulting firm, addressed overall strategies and concepts for maximizing revenue working with firms who want to sponsor, advertise or exhibit. This program was the second time we delivered it in 2009; I jumped in this time to provide more of a DM & marketing perspective on things, as I have seen many and fee-based webinars on "non-dues revenue" but most of it has skewed toward sales and away from the may ways we need to promote our own products to our members and significant others who read our publications or live on our email and mail lists.
Here are a few of the key points that Lewis, Scott & I made in the program:
1) Work in partnership with your corporate supporters. Take into account their strategic goals and how you can help achieve them.
2) Build sponsorship programs that aren’t afraid to grant exclusivity and other features that sponsors want. Your goal is to be fair in extending opportunities to your community of suppliers, vendors, etc. then be free to confer the advantages to the firms that decide to participate at your stated price and within your conditions.
3) Creating a true sales culture requires ongoing, sustained effort. As with membership, to some extent sales is “everybody’s job” even when one department or person is responsible for closing the deal and maintaining the ongoing relationship. The sponsor, exhibitor, advertiser, or content provider signs a deal with the association; the association needs to honor the deal, cooperatively and enthusiastically.
4) Non-dues revenue marketing requires effective use of all 4P’s to members and other potential customers: good pricing, placement, promotion, and product development.
5) Many of our associations underperform in these areas: often it’s hard to “sell to our friends” and we err on the side of under-pricing, soft-pedaling our messaging, and properly enlisting partners such as chapters and influential members to spread good word of mouth and serve as effective distribution channels.
6) Designing and delivering effective services is critical to non-dues revenue: assessing and improving quality is critical. So is assessing user experience and audience perceptions to know which “sales objections” need to be acknowledged, addressed, and overcome wherever possible through our pricing policies and promotion.
7) This is just as true for subscription products, catalog merchandize items, or certification programs as it is for conference attendance; our challenge is to master marketing across a very diverse product line and leverage our core strength—deep knowledge and strong affinity with the industry and/or profession that we serve.
Of course, this was just the tip of the iceberg of what we discussed in the program, but "stay tuned" over time and we will share more as we begin to use this blog as a tool for sharing what we learn from the roundtable discussions and lectures at COA, through our normal client and volunteer work, and what I hope will be pertinent observations gathered from the news and the outside world in general.