How to Set Your Association Apart from the Competition

Illustration of rocket ship shooting up into the sky.

2020 has brought a new way of thinking, and has presented many challenges, for associations in any industry. The way associations connect with members, provide networking opportunities and encourage professional development now looks very different. Associations are being forced to move all of their services online, and while we all hope to get back to regular in-person events in the future, virtual connection will likely remain a vital way to connect with members far and wide.

Connecting with members and encouraging meaningful conversation is more important than ever before, but all associations are asking the same question: How can we encourage members to engage in the virtual world?

What Are Your Members Interested In?

It’s likely that you have data on where your members are from, the company they work for, their job title, what events they have attended or what topics they care most about. During a period of change and uncertainty, it’s important to reconnect. Survey your members to learn what topics are most important to them. You can also learn more about the times of day they are most likely to engage with your association and how they prefer to hear from you. Take these results and build a new marketing strategy around them to increase engagement with your current members, and to increase future member enrollment.

Not only do associations need to learn more about their members, but it’s crucial to stay on top of industry trends. What do your members need help preparing for within their industry? Based on the answers you receive; your association can take advantage of any gaps by offering support and guidance regarding these new trends.

Survey tip: When collecting information from your members, ask if you can interview them to hear more specifics about their experience. Share these interviews far and wide to promote events, encourage member registration or use them to create fun social media posts. Someone’s personal experience with your association may spark new engagement. Conducting interviews also allows you to gather more in-depth knowledge into how members feel about your association. This is your chance to ask what you are doing well and what can be improved.

READ: LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR SURVEYS VALUABLE AND EFFICIENT

What Are Your Competitors Doing?

It’s challenging enough to motive members to attend another virtual event, but even harder when competitors are also sending out marketing materials promoting similar events. A competitive analysis provides insight how your association can set itself apart. Once you have reviewed the competition, you can start to identify gaps in your marketing strategy. 

It could be as simple as this. After conducting competitive research, you’ve discovered that your competitors are offering many networking events in the late afternoon throughout the week. Your association has been wanting to host a networking event, but now you have information to set your event apart. Your association decides to host coffee networking opportunities so that members available early in the day will be able to attend. You may be surprised how simple adjustments, or differentiators, can draw people to your association. 

READ: TYPES OF RESEARCH AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

Freshen Up Your Brand

Even though we are all working remotely and adapting to receiving most (if not all) of our information digitally, people want to connect! Current and future members are craving opportunity to discuss pain points or solutions within their industry. Even though the future may seem bleak, now is the time to freshen your association’s image to stand out and reconnect.

A new brand image can speak to a new audience in the future. Modernize your image and marketing strategy to appeal to the next generation in the work force and to continue connect with those that have been with your association for a while. 

An example: Wood Component Manufacturers Association (WCMA) felt like their logo was outdated and didn’t connect with their younger members. They decided to refresh their image to set their association apart. This resulted in a modern aesthetic for their logo and brand perception. 

Finding new ways to connect with your members is more important than ever. As your members adapt to new work styles and trends, your association must do the same. Think through how surveying members, researching your competition and a brand refresh can boost your member engagement to new heights. 

Looking for assistance to help set your association apart from the competition? Learn more about Ingenuity’s association marketing experience.