Associations, Donít Cannibalize Your Advertisers
Are different departments in your
association pitching the same advertiser for various products at the same time?
Hereís how to
avoid problems through more careful internal coordination and communication.
By JT Hroncich
They are the hunted: Companies
that market to your associationís membership, that is. Within a short span of
time, your association may approach a single prospect with a host of
publishers may offer print and digital advertisements.
promoters may try to sell a company an exhibition table.
associationís education team may pitch sponsorship opportunities.
While each can drive revenue for an association, they also
have the potential to pull resources and dollars away from one another and to
exhaust the interest and goodwill of the prospect. This is the concept of cannibalization.
Donít let the fear of cannibalizing your advertisers gnaw at
you. Instead, learn how to avoid problems through careful coordination and
1. Focus on
win-win. Inherent in an advertising relationship is the idea that
your association is providing value. When an advertiser begins to feel as
though it isn't receiving a fair value, the advertiser may begin to doubt the
Ad sales management should be focused on what serves both the advertiser and the
organization best. This concept should be at the core of every engagement,
pitch, and implementation. Association publishers should offer advertising
packages that will provide the right ROI; sponsorships should get
companies the attention that they expect;and so on.
Ensuring that there is value in every offer to an advertiser
is not just a good way to keep faith with these companies. Itís also a much
easier path to expanding their marketing spend with your entire organization.
2. Plan strategically.
Your advertising sales strategy
should be part of an overall association strategy. The different teams that
make up your association ó membership, events, publications, and so forth ó should
work together to develop a shared understanding of the priorities.
Together, you can:
the goals that you want to achieve individually.
for ways that these goals support one another.
- Choose targets
that can benefit from several of the marketing opportunities your
when and how to pursue prospects.
Association publishers that collaborate with other internal teams
often learn information that can help them with ad sales. For example,
they might offer a conference ad package for a print publication that launches
shortly before a big association event. This combines publication and
conference opportunities in a way that adds greater value than the sum of
3. Use a single
voice. When an ad sales team speaks with a potential advertiser, it
should be able to represent other areas of the organization. This doesn't
necessarily mean that the ad sales team becomes responsible for selling
conference sponsorships. However, it should be capable of laying the groundwork
so that the advertiser is aware of this opportunity.
Speaking in one voice for the organization requires some
preparation. An ad sales team needs to be familiar withall areas of the
organization, and this preparation often takes place behind the scenes with
internal meetings, ongoing updates, and cross-functional groups.
While there is some effort involved, taking these
measures can grow revenue for the organization and ensure that advertisers
view the association as well-organized and professional ó and this is what
leads to an increased ad buy.
complimentary exposure. Despite an association publisherís
best efforts, advertisers may eventually feel nickeled and dimed, especially if
they are asked to pay for a host of additional marketing opportunities when
they've already invested a lot.
An advertising sales team needs to balance its selling
activities with other non-dues revenue.
After developing a strategy as described above, the team should
know what it can afford to give away to maintain or restore goodwill.This
might be a free banner advertisement, a complimentary sponsorship, or a mention
during a membership event.
Whatever your ad sales team chooses, it should offer items
that are free, impactful, and affordable to your organization. Then, the team
should do it frequently enough to make the relationship feel more mutually
beneficial to your advertisers. An investment like this can save your skin in
the long run.
president of AdBoom Advertising.