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Marketing: Get Beyond 'Good Enough' - 11/12/2013 -

Are you struggling with creating a marketing strategy for a communications campaign? Here are some ideas on where to focus your energies.

By Melanie Padgett Powers

"Sometimes good enough gets you stuck.”

That was the frustration voiced by one participant of the "Marketing Strategy for a Communication Campaign” roundtable at Association Media & Publishing’s Roundtable Roundup on October 3, 2013.

The attendee explained how she was struggling to get executives to go beyond the status quo and try new marketing techniques to promote the association’s publications. However, she wasn’t getting the buy-in she needed. The other participants agreed that "sometimes you have to spend money to make money,” but that sometimes associations are content with the way things are. However, if you are content, one day you’ll wake up to find the competition has passed you by — and taken your members with it.

The marketing roundtable was a free-flowing discussion about where to focus your association marketing efforts, how to not get overwhelmed by social media, and how to get buy-in from association executives. Kali Eskew, of the YGS Group, moderated the discussion.

Suggestions to the "stuck” association staffer included:

Make your analytics count. Dive into your web and social media views, likes, shares, etc., to make your case to higher-ups.

Do research. Look for case studies or statistics that show how your idea could increase profits, membership numbers, or whatever your goal may be.

Get back-up. Find a staffer outside your department who has the enthusiasm and clout to help you make your case to the executives in charge of the budget.

Some participants didn’t have marketing backgrounds or experience but are now being asked to promote their publications through social media, e-newsletters, and creative marketing endeavors. They discussed not knowing where to focus their energies, especially with social media, which can be all-encompassing.

Participants suggested focusing on just a few social media platforms and doing them well, instead of trying to tackle too many. Analytics, such as Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics, can be helpful in seeing which topics and type of wording resonate with your audience.

One participant suggested doing follow-up surveys after a particular marketing effort to see how members feel about the messaging and the number of times and ways you are contacting them.

Other tips:

Know when to outsource. Is it really a worthwhile use of staff time to stuff envelopes? As one attendee said, "If you’re stuffing 3,000 envelopes, how many mailings a year are you going to actually want to do?”

Don’t just update last year’s message. Be creative and try something new.

Communicate more with other departments. Often, staffers have no idea what other emails are scheduled or the types of e-newsletters being sent.

Don’t email members one large graphic. That is not an e-newsletter. The graphic may not load properly or quickly, it may be difficult to view on smartphones and it allows for only one link.

Conduct mini internal social media training sessions. You need staff in other departments who can tweet on-site at outside meetings, events, and conferences.

Make it easier for members to participate. Before a special week or day relevant to your association, such as National ‘Health Topic’ Awareness Week, email your members sample Facebook posts and tweets they can use that link back to your website.

Melanie Padgett Powers, a.k.a MelEdits, is a freelance writer, editor and social media strategist. 


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