Years ago in Winnipeg, Canada, Brent Naylor started a business selling ad space on the wall in local union halls. The price of an ad cost $59.50. (Our address in Gainesville, Florida is now 5950. What a coincidence!) He wanted local, small businesses to have a chance to promote themselves to their industry at an affordable price.
Many types of members – large and small, local and global – belong to our association clients today. There are member companies that make up the industry. There are associate members that play a supporting role. Many are small businesses that support the association and the industry in little, but vital ways.
There are many reasons why a company would want to join an industry association. It could be to take advantage of employee benefits and insurance plans. It could be because of their work for a specific industry member. Some companies think that being a member of an association will cause other industry buyers to beat a path to their door.
Regardless of the reason, they feel the need to be a member. Some of these companies are large and well-established, but a large number are small, family-owned businesses that that are out there every day making a living the best they can. These small businesses support the association in little but vital ways. Because of geographic distance or a tight budget, they might not be able to attend large conventions. They might not have the extra manpower to offer for association volunteer roles.
But they can support their association through a modest ad purchase in the annual membership directory or on the website. They can spread the word about their association’s work through their customer base. They can share their pride in employing families and supporting other small businesses propping up their slice of the economy.
From where I sit selling ad space to member companies, I try very hard to let them know that promoting their business can help them down the road, and that the association board of directors notices that they’re advertising. We must remember not everyone goes to the meetings, conferences and special events. These members need to somehow have a sense of belonging. They can’t be forgotten.
I always remember the little guy is a member, too, and an important force in our associations and their industries.