From the Front Lines

Why Association Media Still Matters, Part Two

By Association Adviser staff • November 7, 2013

Last month, we sat down with Rob Shafer and Ben Joseph, two Naylor sales representatives, to discuss the value of paid media to associations and their advertisers. This month, we continue the discussion about creating value for both advertiser and association member through advertising in association publications.

Rob is a 12-year veteran of the publication industry, including five years at Naylor. Ben is beginning his career in association media after graduating from Georgia State University in 2012 and has worked with Naylor for one year.




  • The more you can be in front of your audience with a relevant and updated message, the more well-known your brand or promotion will be.
  • Having a website or a long-standing ad in one publication isn’t enough to drive brand or promotion awareness effectively. An effective ad campaign appears in several channels and has a call to action.
  • On the publishing side, knowing the purpose and character of any given industry, and the goals of an association’s members, is key to producing a useful publication supported by relevant advertisers who truly serve the operational and logistical needs of those members.

AA: If you could get a group of advertisers in a room, what is the biggest thing that you’d tell them they still don’t get about advertising to association members?

Rob Shafer
Rob Shafer, Naylor

Rob: Frequency. The more often you can be in front of the people who are going to buy your product, the better. I think there are quite a few advertisers who don’t take advantage of changing out artwork or promotions, or a call to action.

Not only do you want to stand for the association and the members who buy your products and use your services, but [you want to] let them know why you want to do business with them. I’m not saying you should always offer a discount to association members, but just having your name and a phone number in a publication isn’t really [the same as] going out and asking for business. That’s where we come in. We educate our advertisers about what we feel is effective in an industry to make sure they’re getting the best ROI on their advertising placement.

Ben Joseph
Ben Joseph, Naylor

Ben: Absolutely. And on top of frequency that Rob just mentioned, I’d add breadth and scope. A lot of times you’ll hear, “I’m just trying to focus on my website right now.” Well that’s great, that’s where people go when they want to find information about you on the Web. But what are you doing to supplement that? What are you doing to drive people to your website? What other media are you taking advantage of to get your name out there, build your brand and strengthen your image in front of our associations?

Rob: And also, one of the things I frequently hear is, “All of our business comes by word of mouth.” Obviously having a good reputation in the industry is hands down the strongest thing you can have. But at the same time, when [someone] needs your product or service, where are they going to find that information? Are they going to remember your name and contact information, and why you’re recommended? Being in an association publication [regularly] or consistently having a banner on a website is a constant reminder of that reputation.

AA: Do you need relevant industry experience to help others advertise within that industry?

Ben: Not necessarily. But as we were talking earlier about fit, knowing what makes a company a fit for the association we’re working with, and having a general knowledge of the industry, what the members do and which types of products or services are provided within that industry definitely helps to portray the belief and fit [for the publication]., We help ensure that our clients know this is where they need to be and how they can get their name out there and build their revenue.

Rob: I agree. Explaining that fit and understanding that fit is important. Our specialty is helping advertisers build their business through an association publication. Could we go out to a business like a LifeTime Fitness and explain why they might want to be in front of this audience? Yes, but is a gym a fit for every industry? Maybe, but at the same time, is it a relevant product or service that needs to be in every publication? Probably not.

We want to publish something that is very relevant to the industry, and ensure that we’re finding the companies or advertisers that are good fits for the publication. We want the reader to feel that when they read [an association’s publications], they don’t think that anyone and their mother [is sponsoring]. This needs to be for relevant advertiser only.

AA: Last question: What’s keeping you up at night?

Ben: One thing that does make me anxious is starting a new project and figuring out the pitch again. Getting [information] bullets down. You’re talking to a new market with a new mindset. You have to learn a new way of doing business that is pretty specific to the industry. It takes some getting used to.

Rob: There are certain ideas you think about especially for a new project, or an existing project, such as what can we possibly add to a certain project if they don’t use email or the Web? How can we better serve that association to make sure they’re getting a return on their investment through our medium? We want to keep their association and membership strong. We also want to serve all members. Some only do digital campaigns, and we might only offer a print product.