How did Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that isn’t really celebrated in Mexico, become such a widely celebrated holiday in America? Back in the late ’80s, the regional importers of Corona and Grupo Modelo started a campaign encouraging those already celebrating Cinco de Mayo to make it a priority to drink Mexican beer on that day. The rest is history. Cinco de Mayo is now the one of the largest drinking holidays in the nation.
Marketing can be just as instrumental for associations as it is for consumer beverages, when it comes to raising awareness of your non-dues revenue opportunities. In today’s market, increasing revenue without continually raising membership fees is essential to sustaining your organization. Have you thought about how marketing can help increase your association’s non-dues revenue? It’s not a “one size fits all” approach.
1. Making members more aware of your communications – and indirectly, the advertisers within them:
Increasing awareness of your communications program is an obvious, yet sometimes overlooked way to help market advertising opportunities. The more exposure your communications receive, the more likely advertisers are to see the value of your communications channels and want to appear in them. The key is to market your communications as often as possible to keep them top of mind with members, vendors and sponsors. Remind members frequently about the benefits of using your directory, tell them about upcoming feature articles in your magazine or newsletters, and post links to your communications in very accessible places on your website. Social media outlets are also perfect tools for spreading the word and for driving traffic to your online media.
2. Expand the boundaries for marketing your sponsorship opportunities:
Are you marketing sponsorship opportunities to more than marketing directors? If not, you should be. Your promotional material should also land in front of members with a personal affiliation to any industry-related company, firm or institution. Reach out to past advertisers and prior contacts. Invest in contracting with a lead generation company from which you can gain access to prospects and execute a direct mail campaign. Expanding your reach is the key to increasing your success.
3. Broaden the promotion of your live events – increase exhibitor and attendee participation:
Live events are still considered associations’ best networking tools for members and can yield a great deal of non-dues revenue for the association. Exhibitors are looking to brand themselves with your members, and your members are in need of their products and services that make it easier to do their jobs. Live events are a win-win for everyone. Marketing your events through social media, using cross promotional ads and promoting your event through outside channels such as related industry magazines, newsletters and direct mail pieces can make a huge impact on your turnout and on the number of paid exhibitors who choose to join your event.
4. Offer advertising around your continuing education programs:
Among the things members find most valuable about joining an association are the continuing education programs provided by or through its membership. The pivotal component is making sure that members know about all the forms of professional education your association makes available to them. Charging members for continuing education programs is one way to earn non-dues revenue, but so is marketing the right opportunities to potential advertisers. Does your education program consist of something that a vendor could advertise around? For example, if you’re holding a course about building maintenance, you could offer a sponsored email blast in which an advertiser can include a promotional message announcing the upcoming class. Does your association publish educational pieces in your magazine? Consider offering a chance to earn credits through reading articles in the magazine and then completing an online test. These are some options that generate interest, increase exposure and add value to collateral for potential advertisers. The prosperity of your educational program relies heavily on marketing your options to the right audience.
5. Increase digital information sales – webinars, podcasts, videos:
These online communication channels are increasingly popular options for member education because they allow members to learn, interact and view information on demand and often from the comfort of their own office or home. How can marketing help make these components successful? Again, by increasing your audience. Using an integrated marketing campaign that includes email marketing, direct mail and event marketing will tremendously increase awareness among advertisers of what you have to offer. You may have different products for different sectors of your membership, so be sure you know who your target audience is and stick to marketing to that particular group.
Remember, marketing is not a one size fits all approach. You must understand your audience, do your research, be innovative and above all make your marketing efforts count. Your marketing efforts may not bring in quite as much revenue as the Cinco de Mayo holiday does for beer companies, but it’s certainly a start.
If you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo in typical American fashion, please drink responsibly.
Nancy Taylor is a Marketing Account Specialist with Naylor Association Solutions.