Advertising as a Source of External Non-Dues Revenue

for associations, creating a passionate advertising campaign as a source of external non-dues revenue is at the top of your list

Is An Ad Campaign the Way to Increase your Total Revenue?

Advertising as a source of external non-dues revenue can be a touchy subject for some associations. Revenue generators outside of dues revenue streams can seem like you are “selling out” your audience just to make some extra money. But dues usually only account for less than 40% of an association’s total income.

To make up the other 60%, your association is going to have to get creative. There are many routes and sources of external non-dues revenues. Consider this your call to action to thinking about advertising as one of those revenue ideas.

get creative when thinking about advertising as a source of external non-dues revenue

Advertising is Not a Dirty Word

First, we need to get beyond the idea that we don’t want to use advertising as a source of external non-dues revenue for your association. You have built a relationship with your members, and you don’t want to cheapen that relationship. But at the end of the day, we have to admit… money doesn’t grow on trees.

Like we stated before, we’re looking for 60% of our yearly external revenues to be non-dues based. So how can we think outside the box to meet that additional revenue target without sacrificing our integrity?

Advertising doesn’t have to be a dirty word if we can use it effectively. But how can we use advertising to our advantage while remaining loyal to our members and their wants and needs without losing our rectitude?

write what you know  and apply it to your advertising methods

Write What You Know

This turn of phrase doesn’t have to belong solely to the young creative writers of this world. This can also apply to our advertising methods. We need to keep in mind who our members are and what they want from our services. What is going to turn off your members is seeing an advertisement that doesn’t at all pertain to their interests or desires.

If you’re an association advocating for animal rights, you don’t want to display ads for a meat market. Like everything else in business, advertising is about knowing your customer.

discover what's best for your association: in-house vs outsourced advertising as a means of external non-dues revenue

In-House vs. Outsourced Advertising

This is the only real debate you need to have in your deliberations on advertising: who is going to do it? There is an endless supply of advertising agencies who have the preexisting knowledge and tools to help your association advertise as a source for non-dues revenue well and effectively.

But there is something to be said for using the people who are already under your roof to accomplish the task of creating external non-dues revenue sources. So, let’s explore some of the pros and cons of each, and what is going to be the biggest benefit to your members as well as your association.

In-House Advertising

One of the greatest advantages of using an in-house team to drive your advertising campaign is just what we spoke to previously. Your in-house team already knows your member base. You have a department that creates newsletters and uses your website and social media avenues to speak directly to your members and what they want. This research and knowledge are going to be invaluable to the process of advertising.

We already spoke to the point that we don’t want to blatantly advertise something that our members are not interested in, or worse, something they oppose. Instead, we can use the research that we already have on our members to give them something that they want. Or better yet, we can give them the idea of something that they didn’t know they wanted.

What creative connections can we make between the interests and needs of our members and the services and products in the world?

However, something that we want to keep in mind is the cost of this advertising. Do you already have an onboard team that could handle your advertising? According to payscale.com, “An experienced Advertising Sales Representative which includes employees with 10 to 20 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $46,000”.

This is the biggest deterrent for using in-house advertising for your association. If you don’t already have the time for it, hiring the right people could cost you substantially more than what you stand to make back on advertising.

So what’s the alternative? Outsourcing our advertising campaign.

Outsourced Advertising

The primary reason to outsource your advertising and pay additional fees for additional income is that they have the experience and the tools. Advertising agencies have representatives that know the game, and while they may not know your company, it’s their business to find out more about it. It can be a harrowing experience trying to navigate the world of advertising and doing it effectively.

Advertising agencies have the tools and experience to make sure your advertisements are going to be meaningful as well as effective. Another thing to consider is that these agencies already have so many pre-existing relationships with companies who are looking to advertise.

While our in-house team might have to start from scratch, an outsourced team only needs to match the knowledge they have with the information you give them about your association.

outsourcing your advertising to an agency can sometimes be the right option for your association

Hiring an agency isn’t going to be free, but it could very well cost you less money than if you were hiring your own team and starting from the beginning.

There are two main reasons why you wouldn’t want to hire an agency to handle your advertising. The first is the knowledge of your association. You might have an extremely complex or niche member basis that would be difficult for an advertising agency to comprehend and market to effectively.

The other reason is that it might cost more to hire the company than you could make on your end. It’s extremely important to intimately know what your budget and threshold for this process are, and perhaps more pertinently, what you would stand to earn back from it.

If you see that what you stand to earn in comparison to what you stand to spend is too risky an investment, it might be best to just delineate some of your current staff members to this external non-dues revenue project campaign.

make an association benefit a member benefit when finding means of creating external non-dues revenue

Making an Association Benefit a Member Benefit

Ultimately, our goal in advertising as a source of external non-dues revenue should be symbiotic. We want to earn additional revenues outside of membership dues, but we also want to stay on-brand in our ideas and values. Advertising can be a way to strengthen your financial status.

But perhaps additionally, advertising can be another way that your association interacts and maintains its relationship with your members. For more means of increasing your external non-dues revenue, check out this other blog!