2012 was a big year in association marketing and communications. Whether you were focused on retention, new member acquisition or industry communications, the strategies and tactics you employed were most likely different from those used in previous years. Content, social, SEM, segmentation, automation … and that’s just to name a few. There were plenty of options to consider, but the question you should now be asking yourself as 2012 winds down is this: Were my strategies effective? If not, why?
As I began going through this very same exercise, I was faced with a few realizations:
- Distraction comes in many forms. Not the least of which is our desire to improve, but whatever the reason, a distraction is a distraction nonetheless.
- Being asked to do more with less, as most of us are these days, is a distraction in and of itself.
- The best way to effect change positively—whether it’s organizational change, or consumer behavior—is to focus on a couple of key concepts and execute them very well.
What does this have to do with establishing a marcom mantra, you ask? Plenty. As you set off into 2013, know that you are going to encounter distractions of your own, so work with your team and key stakeholders to decide what your mantra is going to be. It’s important to get buy-in on the overall focus, as well as on the strategies and tactics that will be used throughout the year. Be sure to remind everyone as the weeks and months pass how the plan is progressing, and as new ideas come up (as they always do) be sure that they pass the mantra litmus test before deciding whether to pursue.
Here are a few examples of marcom mantras to help get you moving in the right direction:
- I will ask, and then I can deliver.
Good marketing strategies have one thing in common: The people who create them have done their homework and feel confident that the plan in place is addressing the needs all of their key stakeholders. For associations, this means members, suppliers/advertisers/exhibitors and board members, executive team and operational staff.How do you do this? You ask. This could be in the form of a survey, face-to-face meetings, roundtable discussions and focus groups or, better yet, a combination of all of the above. Once you know what’s important, then you can deliver a strategy that is on target. See “Taking the 90 Day Challenge” for more about this.
- I will build my content, and my brand will prosper.
Oh, the things that you can do when you have enough of the right content. Notice the qualifier – any content will not help you prosper, but the right content certainly will. From thought-leadership positioning to marketing automation to strategically focused social media channels, having a content surplus will prove invaluable for years to come.
- I think about what my members value; therefore, I am valued by my members.How many times have you thought to yourself, “If only our database allowed us to capture critical information about how our members behave?” Or, how many times have you wondered how much more effective your recruitment campaign could be if you just knew what your prospects “hot buttons” were? Customer relationship management (CRM) and segmentation is no small task, but the payoff that comes from knowing who you are talking to, and what they care about, is big.
- We stand for what we believe in, and we’re not afraid to show it.Undergoing a brand makeover is not something to be taken lightly, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult. If this is an area that you plan to focus on in 2013, ask yourself, “Do people know who we are, what we stand for and what we can do for them?” Ensuring board members, staff, volunteers and your key influencers that you can answer these questions is the first step. The second step is ensuring that your audience-facing communications and marketing campaigns enforce the same values and are consistently designed for a cohesive brand presence.For a look at how association’s like American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI), Louisiana Oil and Gas (LOGA) and more keep their brands relevant to members and the industries they serve, see this article from March 2012 issue of Association Adviser.
- I engage; therefore, I am.Social media strategy leaving something to be desired? Maybe it’s time you start engaging with your members on their Facebook pages or in their Twitter chats and LinkedIn Groups. Want more participation in committees and volunteer groups? Perhaps you need to “volunteer” with some of your member companies and lend your expertise on their terms. Need to inject some more life and fun into a tired event? Assign welcoming committees, personally meet with all first time attendees and all exhibitors (new and returning). In other words, if you want engagement, you too, must engage.
As you and your team plug away on the plans that have been built around your marcom mantra, things are likely to change and adjustments will need to be made. As long as you stay focused on the one or two guiding principles that you set early on, any new tactics that come along the way should be on target for helping you achieve the marcom enlightenment you desire.
Need help establishing your own marcom mantra? Contact Dana Plotke for more info. Dana has worked in B2B marketing and communications for more than 15 years, with a focus on association media and events since 2002. She leads the marketing efforts of Naylor, LLC.