A three-part series to uncover your member magazine’s greatness and peak its potential.
Part 2: Marketing, promotion and branding
On Monday, we introduced a three-part series aimed to help you take your association magazine to the next level.
For Part 1, we tackled content strategy. Your magazine’s content – and how you go about pulling it all together – is the foundation on which you can start to build the rest. Now that you have a good understanding of some of the main components of a magazine’s content strategy, we’re ready to move on to marketing and promotion of your magazine. If you’re going to have a great magazine with great content, you’ve got to make it known.
Are we effectively promoting the magazine and its content to our members?
Promote it like you mean it.
So you’ve created an issue, it went to press and it’s now hitting members’ mailboxes. You’re done, right?
Nope. Not yet. This is when it becomes critical to make the content well-known. Relying on members to pick up their issue and read it cover to cover is asking a lot. Most won’t read the content you’ve worked hard to create without a little nudging.
Look at it like this: you invested all this time into creating a product you’re proud of, then when its released, instead of sharing it with the world you unintentionally sweep it under the rug and move on? If you do that to your magazine, your members will, too. Articles, features and the magazine in general should be heavily promoted on social media (and on more than one social platform) and in other member communications (think about your weekly newsletter or anything else you’re pushing out to members). Links to the digital edition should be prominently displayed on the home page of your association’s website (yes, home page). Print versions of your member magazine should always make a public appearance at your association’s events and should be included in new member welcome/orientation packets.
If you don’t show that, as an organization, you truly value your flagship magazine, then members won’t value it either. If you heavily promote and talk about your association magazine, then members will be more inclined to follow suit and talk about it as well. They’re taking cues from you, so show them that your magazine is an important part of your association’s member communications.
Does it fall short of effectively integrating association events?
Be thorough when integrating your event marketing efforts.
More to come on this in Part 3, but your association should fully entwine your business objectives (and overarching goals) into your magazine, and should not leave potential content your annual conference offers to your magazine out in the cold.
I’m sure increasing event attendance is on your list of goals – or has been, or should be. It’s one thing to mention events in your member magazine, but it’s another thing to integrate event marketing efforts completely with valuable content that members will love.
Have you asked speakers to write articles based on their speaking engagement(s)? Are you engaging members and asking about their experience at past events (to demonstrate the value of attending from their perspective)? Are you adequately covering events as they happen to highlight award winners, big moments and your industry’s game-changers?
Go beyond the typical, boring save-the-date announcements, and promote your event in a way that offers value back to your members. Pitch them on the event’s valuable content through content, and they’ll stay attuned to your magazine whether they’re able to attend an event or not.
Does the magazine have its own brand, and how does it support your association’s image, mission and the industry at large?
Don’t be afraid to stand out.
A member magazine can and should be one of your strongest tangible member benefits. It’s a unique tool that an association should use to convey its influence and leadership in the industry. It needs to support the association’s mission and vision, and should live and breathe to support the association’s brand.
Are you the leading resource for information in your given industry? Your magazine should convey that. Are you leading the conversation about the latest trends and their effect on the industry? Your magazine should be leading those discussions.
In addition to being integrated with your association’s communication objectives, your member magazine should be able to stand alone as its own brand – independent from your organization. Why not have a magazine that’s so well-done that everyone wants a subscription? Then lo and behold, they learn that your association is the publisher and the powerhouse behind the brand? This only further solidifies your association’s place in the market as a true industry leader and resource.
Claim your spot as an industry leader
To recap: first comes content strategy. After all, content is the foundation upon which to build a reputable and engaging member magazine. And once you’ve set your content strategy path, next you have to commit to marketing and branding the publication effectively. Don’t let opportunities pass you by (hello, trade show!) or be afraid to stand out in all the right ways.
Takeaways from Part 2:
- Promote it like you mean it. Yep, on your home page and especially on social media.
- Integrate your magazine marketing efforts. Use other association content sources as the gold mines they are.
- Don’t be afraid to stand out. Lead discussions and position your association as the trusted industry leader.
The third and final part in our series is aimed at the business aspects of an association magazine. In this final part, we’ll cover clear-cut, best practices that will improve the way you go about running your magazine.
Heather Williams is a content strategist with Naylor Association Solutions. She also runs The Inspired Strategist blog.