Why Association Media Still Matters

By Association Adviser staff • October 15, 2013

As part of this month’s focus on non-dues revenue, we spoke with Rob Shafer and Ben Joseph, two Naylor sales representatives, about why paid media remains a vital source of revenue for associations and how publishers try to provide value for advertisers and readers alike in a very crowded media world.

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 almost a year.

This is part one of a two-part interview.



  • An integrated marketing campaign is the best way to reach a target audience, not just to get across different mediums, but also to make sure your information is in front of the right audience at the right time.
  • Whatever media advertisers choose to pursue—whether that is print, digital, trade show or integrated—the most important driver of brand recognition is frequency.
  • A print ad is a good way to drive traffic to an online presence and ensure members see the information you want them to see.


AA: Can association media still compete with for-profit media players?

Ben: Association media is an excellent place to advertise, especially the association [media] that Naylor publishes. When we say we are the industry, that is the case. If you’re trying to cater to a specific target market, there’s really no better way to get in front of the most influential people in that segment than the association that represents that industry.

Rob: Absolutely! Associations are generally the leaders in the industry. They understand the trends and anything that is going on from a legislative aspect towards the industry. They’re going to know everything that is most relevant to members. So keeping your information in front of the people who are generally making those decisions and who generally have the majority of the buying power is hands down the best place to be.

AA: Which advertising concerns or questions do you most often address?

Ben: One of the ones I’ve heard pretty often is that print is dead. It seems that people who are in tune with search engine optimization and online marketing feel that print doesn’t really have a place in association media. That simply is not the case. A lot of times, having a print ad is a really good way to drive traffic to your online presence and make sure that members see the information you want them to see.

Another thing we tell them is, 90 to 95 percent of our print publications have a digital component. So your print ad will be represented in the digital component. We have special digital-only advertising opportunities that are a great way to utilize that digital presence.

Rob: Sometimes we have to explain that an integrated program is the best way to go. And that’s not just to get across different mediums, it’s just to make sure your information is in front of the right audience at that time. There are certain people who are going to use a print directory and that it all they are going to use. There are going to be some people who follow Twitter feeds and Google, or they are going to read every single eNewsletter or email we send out.

The main thing is to explain that the more you can be in front of the audience, the better, whether that is print branding or a banner redirecting visitors to a website. Explaining integrated media is probably one of the biggest things we do.

AA: An integrated program sounds like a big step to any advertiser especially to a first-time advertiser. What advice would you give to an advertiser wanting to start a campaign or an ad program within an industry or association media?

Rob: I think it depends on the industry. For every industry, there are different mediums that are more successful than others. I think it’s about educating someone about what integration is, and helping them find the right balance and the best way to reach their audience.

Ben: Absolutely! Whatever media they do choose to pursue—whether that is print, digital, trade show or integrated—the most important thing is frequency. Spending thousands of dollars on just a few months’ ads isn’t going to yield that much return on investment or build that much brand recognition, but staying in front of membership throughout the year or for several years during a specific month is more effective. When that time comes to make a [spending] decision, the company name will be fresh in [members’] minds and easily accessible through our media.

Association executives perceive integrated communication programs as “above average” and “best in class” more than non-integrated communications. Advertisers who employ a similar approach with their branding or advertising campaigns can expect similar results. See more at www.naylor.com/benchmarking

Oct. 2013 Bar graph interview story3

AA: And with the variety of industries we serve, it is a challenge to find qualified leads. What is your biggest challenge in finding those leads and selling an association media space?

Rob: The biggest challenge is finding people who are very qualified fits for our media. We want to make sure we are putting companies in front of the association members that are relevant and that are running the right campaign to engage members. Once our advertisers have bought in, we try to educate them about how to stay in front of the other members on a monthly, quarterly or even yearly basis.

Ben: That is where a lot of the conversation lies when trying to explain to a prospective client why this association publication might benefit them and their business. We try to help prospects figure out where the fit is. We have all these numbers that represent who we are, what we do and what percentage of the industry we control, but a lot of these people might not have a great idea of where they fit into the picture and how they can utilize this [publication] to the best of their ability.

Look for part two in a future Association Adviser post.