Friday, March 30, 2012

Association Marketing: Do You Want to Get Rocked?

While I may not watch the Super Bowl each year for the commercials, I will admit it is hard to decide when to leave the tv to get more chili - during the game or the ads.  How is it that something that usually most of us find to be an annoyance in the middle of our shows, listening to music on the radio or waiting for a movie to start is something that we actually look forward to each year?  I think because we know that, for those few hours, the ads we are going to see are going to be awesome (and when they are not, you better believe we talk about that as well).

So we may not have a Super Bowl as a draw in the association world, but that doesn't mean we can't try to make our own marketing approaches memorable and something the customer comes back to again and again.  And for those who may say, associations do not have the budget of a large company producing a full blown commercial I would like to draw your attention to the ad for

Simple, funny, engaging.  And the message is pretty clear.

In a world of best practices we often fall back to our most comfortable patterns - an email blast followed by a postcard followed by another email blast, maybe a 15-day online coupon, a scramble when the numbers aren't there, two more email blasts to compensate, etc.  It is hard to break away from common pattern, so I understand why this is the default where most associations turn - and for many they can bring about success, even if much of the time it is only incremental.  What if instead we did not think a 1-3% growth was good enough?  What kind of marketing would we need to do to really grab attention?  To speak openly to our members and professionals, and make our message less about us (whether us is the association or the product/service it is advertising) and more about them?

The ASAE Foundation announced a new innovation grant program at Great Ideas 2012 in Colorado Springs.  Though marketing is not my forte, I hope that a number of creative professionals in that area submit for one of the grants.  We need our best practices to turn from our usual practices into creative, ahead of the curve practices.  If we can continue to shift our marketing messages from sales and advertisement to personal product/opportunity connection, if our message become more about the individual professional and less about the association, if we can create ads that members HAVE to show their colleagues - I think we would not only see much higher returns, but expect them as well.

Who knows, maybe the interludes at ASAE Annual Conference one year soon will be amazing association ads that we will all tweet and buzz about....and though the goal may never be for an attendee to ever say "Oh, I can to the session to see the ads" it would still be pretty cool if they were that good.

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