5 Things Your Association Should Do Before Attempting to Earn More Revenue

By John Bacon • October 25, 2017

John Bacon, Naylor Association Solutions
John Bacon, Naylor Association Solutions

Non-dues revenue supports associations’ missions in so many ways: Providing exceptional training and education for members, financing lobbying efforts, keeping membership dues affordable, and offsetting the costs of your communication program, to name a few.

But for some associations, it’s difficult to find more or better non-dues revenue sources. Here are five things your association should take stock of before attempting to earn more non-dues revenue:

Tip 1: Reaffirm advertising to your association’s relevance

Advertising in association publications, at events or in other places can be misconstrued as a means to squeeze more dollars from members, but it is how many associations strengthen their position as their industry’s leading source of information. Advertisers are the businesses, consultants and individuals who provide products and services to your members, and according to American Business Media, are one of the top three sources of trusted industry information. Advertising is a natural way to make your association more relevant to buyers, and also acts as a funding source for your association’s activities.

On the flip side, offering to advertise makes membership in your association more relevant to suppliers by offering them an audience to which they can pitch their products and services. Advertisers join associations as members and sponsors to further build their business and support the overall health of their industry. When you enhance your advertising opportunities, you create more ways for business members to succeed and keep the industry going strong. What business wouldn’t want to join a group that can facilitate their success?

Your publications/events are a natural hub for buyers and sellers to meet, learn more about each other, and begin or enhance client-provider relationships, so your association should be enabling these relationships any chance you have.

Find even more ideas and strategies for earning more non-dues revenue in our free eBook, 5 Tips for Maximizing Non-Dues Revenue From Your Communication Vehicles.

Tip 2: Know your worth

Don’t forget that your association is the product. Your ability to gather individuals, businesses, thought leaders and influencers to strengthen your industry is what makes investing in your association worth a sponsor’s money. You’re not just pushing a magazine, a website, a newsletter, an app or a conference – you are pushing a gathering of like-minded, motivated and active professionals who are passionate about your industry and the products and services it provides to the larger population.

Having said that, know your association’s strengths and weaknesses. What does your association do well in the name of enhancing your trade or profession? What could you do to better serve your industry’s interests? Survey your members regularly to ask these questions. Examine what similar associations in your space are doing, and what kind of publications they are producing to get members on the same page and working together. Then make sure your audiences know about your strengths and the value that advertising in your communications can bring them. Tell them clearly why your association is worth the investment.

Tip 3: Know what advertisers want, and how to best deliver it.

Having the right opportunities available to meet the needs of your potential advertisers is important to maximizing non-dues revenue. Before developing a communications program, know what advertisers want and need. Usually, advertisers are looking for greater access to members, ways to engage with your members, and more opportunities to showcase their products and services. Associations typically develop a multipronged approach when it comes to their communication strategy, in part because advertisers approach their advertising campaigns the same way. Developing a plan that has opportunities that meet every company’s budgeting needs will put your association in the driver’s seat and ensure that they are engaged with all of the potential advertisers in their industry.

Know exactly how your members are consuming your association’s content. Advertisers want to participate in the communications your members are using. They want to get in front of your members! The American Business Media, in cooperation with Readex Research, surveyed more than 6,600 media users in the B2B market. Nine out of 10 respondents indicated that the most important factor in their advertising decision is audience demographic. Nobody has a more target rich environment for advertising than associations. Your potential advertisers need to know that.

Tip 4: Take time to invest in your ad resources

If you want to maximize non-dues revenue, your association will need to invest the time and money needed to develop a sales team that can efficiently and expertly develop viable sales leads.

Whether your association develops your communication sales program internally or outsources it, you need to make sure that you find the right sales and management team. This team should have a great work ethic, a passion for selling and strong internal communication skills. Keep your marketing materials up to date so that your association’s best opportunities are highlighted and so your sales team has the correct information to pass on to interested advertisers. Finally, invest in quality leads for your sales force. When your sales reps are armed with the right tools, including an appropriate, qualified audience to which to sell, they can be successful and your association can earn more revenue.

Tip 5: Arm your sales teams with the right tools

There are several sales essentials that every association needs to have for their sales force:

  • A sample sales script
  • Performance metrics
  • Specific lead sources
  • Competitive compensation and incentive programs
  • Ongoing professional development
  • A reliable information source about the current state of the industry

Your association should evaluate these essentials on an annual basis at least. Your sales team is an extension of your association, so make sure they are armed with the tools and information that will help them represent your association in the strongest way possible.

A strong vision leads to strong revenue

Nelson Mandela once said, “Action without vision is only passing time. Vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.” Before your association attempts to earn more non-dues revenue, make sure you have a vision in place for why your association takes on advertising and what you’ll do with the money earned from it. Then prepare your marketing materials, your management team, and your sales team with the necessary tools. You’ll establish a firm foundation for earning more non-dues revenue in no time.

About The Author

John Bacon is a group publisher with Naylor Association Solutions. He can be reached at [email protected].

About The Author

[email protected].