Are Radio and TV in Your Membership Development Future?

In the Five Phases of the Membership Life Cycle, I highlighted how awareness is the first step in the membership relationship. If a prospective member is not aware of whom you are and what value your organization brings, then you are a long way off from closing a sale.

Making a sale involves a series of little steps moving a prospect from A to Z.

That’s why as a membership marketer, I have enjoyed watching the use of radio and television to build awareness and membership by two groups, the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP) to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Here is the publicly available information on these programs that I have come across on the web.

AAFP has launched a major awareness program with sponsorship of my favorite radio program Marketplace on NPR and with 30 to 60 second ads on 71 XM Radio stations. SHRM has also been a sponsor of the regular feature on Marketplace. They sponsor the segment with interviews of top corporate CEO’s in a feature called Conversations from the Corner Office.

In addition, according to Digital News Direct, SHRM has run TV ads during CNN Election Coverage and FOX Business Jumpstart. If you watched the candidate debates you may have seen the ad. Here is a link to the ad.

Both of these groups are well respected organizations and it appears that their awareness advertising has been well thought out and done in a responsible and effective manner.

But as you read this you may ask are radio and TV something that all association marketers should jump on board and do? Will it help your association blossom?

From my perspective the answer is before these channels are considered, you need to have your bases covered with more traditional association marketing techniques. True with the increasingly defined market segmentation that HD and satellite radio and cable TV provide, it is now becoming a possibility to at least explore these mediums. But rarely do consumer demographics match up with the qualifiers that would make someone eligible for membership. You may have 50 year old woman as members, but they also need to be in your profession in order to be interested in membership.

Here is another major caution that I have to using broadcast or consumer advertising channels. There is a very big potential to spend a lot of money in a very inefficient manner. You need to ask the question, what proportion of those who see these ads are potential members or people that you want to influence and to compare this to the effectiveness of a tightly targeted promotion.

Some associations and non-profits are not effectively picking the low hanging fruit for new members already, so this should be the first use of resources before investments are made in the consumer realm.

What are your thoughts on the use of broadcast and consumer media to build awareness about your organization and get more members?


Lindy Dreyer said...

Like you said, the targeting really isn't sophisticated enough for most associations. I do see how it could be effective if your association's mission includes reaching out to consumers, or if you're marketing a group like AARP. Otherwise, it would take a pretty special situation to warrant that kind of broad approach.

Tony Rossell said...

Lindy -- Be sure to take a look at the SHRM ad. I think they developed it well so it speaks to the public, CEO's, and potential members. Tony

Chris Davis said...

Tony -- Although I do not think that this would be effective for my association, I could see the benefits for some. Especially associations dealing with professional/business related associations where the Membership listens to programs such as NPR.

I think that ads and radio spots definitely have their place in marking the association as an industry experts to those other than the members. I have noticed a recent ad over the past few months for the American Dental Association (ADA) who had partnered with Orbit, Extra and Eclipse gum which are all approved ADA gums. I thought the ad was very well done (and even reminds me of the 'musical' from the last ASAE annual meeting)


Tony Rossell said...

Chris -- Good comment. Yes, I like radio and TV especially when it is driving consumers to your members. Everyone, for example, should be encouraged to go to the dentist. To the extent that the ads can be supported by for profits the better. The caution that I would have would be for a non-profit to view consumer media as a "silver bullet". I have seen organizations spend nearly their entire marketing budget on a full page ad in a major newspaper with the expectation that it will ingnite a rush to the membeship page of their web site. Thanks for your thoughts. Tony