The Conversation Continues: What is the One Thing Most Needed in Association Marketing?


I continue to be intrigued with the question, “What is one thing that an association marketing team must do, if nothing else?” As I mentioned in my last post, Associations Now magazine asked me and several others to answer that question in the May issue.

So I have continued the conversation by asking others for their thoughts. I think when you ask someone to focus their marketing philosophy down to its core; you really get some great insights. Here is what I have heard back so far.

Brian LeHouillier is a Managing Director at the American Society for Quality. I love his perspective because he is a true believer in the quality approach. He wrote:

“I think the number one thing the marketing function must do is be able to show, in quantifiable terms, the return on the organizations marketing investment. Everything else, list selection, branding, messaging, design, copy, etc. are all very important, but if you can’t show that the effort produced a desired result (increased membership, revenue, market share, etc.) it will be looked at as a cost reduction possibility.”

Jeff Ward is the Director of Administrative Services/Chief Financial Officer for the Ohio Historical Society. He is a change agent and a get it done type of person. Jeff said:

“I think that associations need marketing teams to continue to ‘push the envelope’ (e.g. keeps hitting the market, try new things). And I've found that it's easier to accomplish these tasks by using outside consultants.”

Finally, Stuart K. Meyer is the Marketing, Membership and Communications Officer for the Emergency Nurses Association. Stuart approaches this question from an entirely different perspective. He shared:

“One thing an association marketing team must do is put the general principles of behavioral economics into practice at all levels of strategy, tactics and relationships. Behavioral economics reveals the power of emotion in decision-making even in the presence of rational facts. Think of it as Association EQ or the Emotional Value Proposition (EVP) . . . Cultivate a humanizing emotional connection between the member and your association and you might have them as a loyal member and promoter for life.“

I might sum up these perspectives this way, get something done and measure it, but do not forget that we market to real people with real desires and wants.

Your comments are welcome.

4 comments:

Erik said...

Thank you for bringing so clearly to light the importance of "emotion" with "measurement." I think at times we talk around this by referring to message, benefits or offer. People buy because of they 'want' to buy - an emotion.

Tony Rossell said...

Yes, I agree. Stuart's contribution with his focus on EQ was a helpful insight. Tony

Anonymous said...

Do you have resources you could refer me to on how to measure your marketing success. Our association is not very sophisticated, and internally I got a blank stare when I even asked what our member retention rate was.

Tony Rossell said...

Dear "Not Very Sophisticated": It sounds like you have some educating to do. You may want to share two posts that I did awhile ago with your team to help them to get started in thinking in terms of measuring. First, on Monday, July 9, 2007, I posted on Benchmarking Your Membership Marketing Program. Then on Thursday, July 5, 2007, I wrote on
Know the Numbers on Membership Marketing.

I would personally encourage you to press on to helping your organization to become a sophisticated association. It is a lot more fun and professionally rewarding.

Thanks for your question. Tony