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Association Check-Up: 3 Questions to Consider in the New Year

There’s nothing like a new year for a fresh start. It’s the perfect time to take stock and think about ways to renew and refresh how your association goes about its business.

Here are three questions to ask yourself:

1. What could we do to boost non-dues revenue?

When you’re looking to increase revenue, you can’t always simply increase the price of membership dues. That’s a sure-fire way to turn off members. Instead, think about ways to diversify your revenue stream with non-dues revenue.

Your career development and education program is a great place to start. For example, extend your online career center to:

  • Offer employers the opportunity to promote their jobs on your home page, Twitter feed, and Facebook page.
  • Introduce a job email to your members. Employers are often willing to pay extra for this distribution of their jobs to additional potential candidates.
  • Include a jobs feed or widget in your member and prospective member e-newsletters with recently posted jobs that sponsors have paid extra to promote.

Another idea: take the content you’ve created for in-person events and extend it online to provide a convenient option that many of your members may be seeking. By doing so, you can:

  • Bring in revenue that you otherwise would not capture from members who are unable to attend your in-person events due to schedule, budget, learning preferences, or other factors.
  • Stretch your investment in on-site content further by repurposing it online – through livestreaming your on-site event or offering it on-demand after the event.
  • Incorporate sponsors and exhibitors into the online experience – via online session sponsorships, sponsor logos, and a virtual exhibit hall – to generate additional revenue.

TECH TIP: Community Brands offers career center and learning management system (LMS) solutions that can help you drive new revenue from your job board and professional education programs. Learn about YM Careers as well as the award-winning LMS systems, Freestone and Crowd Wisdom.

2. Are our members missing out on professional development benefits? Job opportunities and learning content are among your association’s key value propositions. But you must promote them. After all, if members don’t know about your offerings, they might miss out on key member benefits – which means they might not renew in the future.

Here are five steps to help you build a marketing plan to make sure your members are in-the-know about your professional development offerings:

  • Determine your goals. What are your goals and objectives? And, how will you measure success? Begin to answer these questions by articulating quantitative and attainable goals, such as: “Generate an increase in X amount of new learners by [date]”, or “Connect X number of members with job opportunities by [date]”.
  • Identify your audience. Start by segmenting your member database based on your goals. For example: If your goal is to generate an increase in X amount of new learners by [date], then pull a list of members who have never enrolled in any course.

Review your audience segments and think about any other commonalities between them. For instance, are they of a certain industry or career stage? Knowing more about them will help you develop targeted, personalized marketing messages.

  • Build your messaging. Be mindful of your audience, and appeal to them based on what you know about them (such as their career stage) and their interests (such as course topics). Also, be sure to personalize the messages you send them based upon past actions they’ve taken. You can pull this information from your association systems, such as your association management software (AMS), learning management system (LMS), and online career center.
  • Choose your channels. Now that you have your messaging decided, how do you plan to communicate and convey those messages? Which channels will you use? Think about what resources you have available and use as many of them as possible for a broader reach. Some channels to consider: marketing automation platform (to streamline the sending of emails), social media accounts, Google Ads account, and your website.
  • Create a communications schedule. It’s important to reach out multiple times, but also not over-communicate. One way to avoid communication overload is to include messages about your courses in communications that are already on your organization’s schedule. Also, work with others in your organization to make sure your messages do not overlap with those from other campaigns or initiatives.

3. Are we thinking about the member journey?
As you consider your association’s member experience, you likely think about acquisition, onboarding, engagement, and renewal. But are you also considering the member journey from their perspective as they move through their careers?

One key to supporting your members’ journey is making sure you have the right career center and learning management technologies in place to enhance and increase the value your organization provides members through each phase of their career – from student and early career to retirement.

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