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!

Reasons to Strengthen Your Association’s Social Media Presence in 2019

Reasons to Strengthen Your Association's Social Media Presence in 2019

Increasing Your Association’s Social Media Presence Needs to be a Key Goal for 2019

In this digital age, your association’s social media presence is a crucial part of not just your digital marketing presence but also helps to create a perception of your association as a whole.

Your association’s social media presence is something that can be used as a communication tool to engage with members you already have on the various social platforms. It can also be viewed as a strategy to interest potential members, like millennials who are digital natives and known for seeking information and communicating online. If done well, an association’s social media presence can easily translate into membership base growth, and retention, as well as increasing the effectiveness of the time and effort spent on growth. And more importantly, your association’s social media presence and engagement is something you can do which can be extremely cost effective in terms of ROI.

So let’s take a look at the reasons more associations are strengthening their social media presence in 2019. And also, let’s take a look at what they’re doing to achieve this.

so many people are connected to their phones, and engaging online, which is why your association's social media presence is more important than ever

Increasing your Association’s Social Media Presence Through Greater Visibility

Technology in today’s world moves so quickly, and so do our attitudes about technology. Not long ago we were told to be very cautious about the things we put on social media because potential employers or business partners could see them.

But that’s exactly what we want now. Your association’s social media presence is more important than ever. In a very real way, it looks unprofessional not to have a social media arm to your association. Your results on search engines can seem incomplete without having this badge of technological honor under your name. It validates your association as being one that embraces technology as opposed to one that looks like a dinosaur. Associations’ need to keep up with the times to continue to remain relevant to younger members who want to be part of something that they can relate to.

Visibility Includes “Housekeeping” Items as Well as Communication Through Social Platforms

Many businesses and organizations use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to stay in touch with their target audiences. But have you considered this is also another method of communication?

Social media platforms are a way for your association to advertise things like location, office hours, events, newsworthy members, and an overall way to speak directly to your audience. Having this high level of visibility is very important to your branding. For an association looking to maximize its ability to stay in touch with its base, having a social media presence is vital.

One more important aspect to consider regarding visibility and your association’s social media presence is that you need to make the social media itself visible. In other words, make sure that you advertise the fact that you are on whichever platforms you choose to utilize, but remember, the more the merrier. Add social media icons to your association’s website, and include them in all of your team’s email signatures. Also, include reminders for members to follow your association’s social media outlets through newsletters, emails, and other literature.

if your association's social media presence is not on your radar, it should be.

Let Social Media be an Advertisement for Your Association

Your association’s social media page might be the first place someone views your organization on the internet. Whether its a committed member of your organization or a new potential member, make sure that your first impression is a good one.

In a great article from Investment News discussing the importance of using social media platforms, they state that “clients and prospects look to your website and social media content as a way to get to know you better”. This is a great attitude to have when thinking about the kind of content you put out there to increase your association’s social media presence.

Consider the goals of your association when you are deciding what content to put out on your platforms. Let your organization’s goals and your social media presence’s goals share a common purpose. While inflammatory and flashy news articles might turn some heads, it’s ultimately not good for your branding and reputation in the long run.

Think of your social media presence as an extension of material that you produce for the members of your association. Your members are the individuals who follow you and care about what you have to say, but on a social media platform, you are also able to speak to a wider audience at the same time. While you are able to present your members with newsletters and emails designed specifically for them, think of your social media output as a way to deliver your association’s message to other interested parties.

Pay attention to what’s trending in the world, and find how it relates to your association and its values. This is your opportunity to stay relevant and do some free advertising.

utilize your association's social media presence to deliver your message to a much wider audience

Let Your Association Openly Communicate with the World

Beginning to work on your association’s social media presence can be intimidating. What your members, and potential members, want to hear from you might not seem obvious. However, the best part of social media platforms is that they are two-way streets.

While you should remain consistent on the quality and frequency of things you post, don’t be afraid to tailor your messages to your audience. The audience for every social platform is slightly different, but one thing remains consistent: people want to feel like they’re individually special yet inside a like-minded crowd.

If you don’t know what your members might want to share, ask them. You can create a poll as a way of giving individuals a strong voice. And they will inevitably want to utilize this voice. Post content that pertains to your association’s goals and values. Also, please note that you should be posting consistently, but that you can also give your message that extra personal touch. How? Well, by reaching out to the community at large.

when you association's social media presence is starting to grow, utilize tools to track its growth

Wrapping Things Up: Use Your Association’s Social Media Presence for Brand Building

Social media has proven itself as one of the most invaluable platforms for communication in the modern day. It’s used by individuals, organizations, brands, politicians, and everyone in between to help forward their agenda and communicate this world. Don’t let yourself be left out of the conversation.

Figure out a plan of action, and begin building your association’s brand through social media.

After all, this will strengthen not only your visibility and your web presence, but also your association as a whole.

How AI is Playing a Larger Role in Providing Personalized Content to Association Members

How AI is Playing a Larger Role in Providing Personalized Content to Association Members

Personalized Content Through AI Changes The Way Associations Deliver Benefit to Their Members

Personalized content through AI is changing the way associations interact with their members

An association’s members are its lifeblood. We all know this to be true. That being said, making sure that your association’s interactions with these members are positive ones is extremely important.

Members don’t want to feel as though they’re part of a digital marketing scheme working for the association’s bottom line. Members want to feel like they’re part of an association that cares about their business, career, and the things they want out of life.

So how can your association accomplish this in an era of split-second interactions and distractions coming from every direction?

AI Can Help Associations Personalize Their Content

This is where associations can benefit from a little bit of help from AI to ensure their members receive personalized content that resonates with them – even if the association’s communication team is stretched thin.

And personalized content with the help of AI is not just a fad. According to Forbes, more than half of all marketers plan to begin using AI software to help tailor-make their services. But this is not just for marketers attempting to make a profit. It is about creating an individual connection to each of your association’s members.

AI software for personalizing content is so much more than random streams of code

So, wait, how does AI work, exactly?

In layman’s terms, AI (artificial intelligence) software collects massive amounts of data and signals and sifts through all of it. While mining through data, AI searches for connections and correlations, challenges and opportunities, and identifies trends. People provide signals; they log in or they don’t. AI uses those signals and looks for patterns in their interactions. Through the power of these signals, AI is able to find common threads where people are most engaged on an individual basis.

your members, like these pictured, are looking for value from their professional trade association so consider help from AI to personalize content and don't only rely on events

AI, Associations, and Engagement

Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to play a more significant role in how associations provide content that is not only relevant to its members but content that is personalized for them. We are already familiar with the way our human team members collect and interpret information to help give individualized subject matter to our members.

But frankly, that’s old news.

In this day and age, members’ expectations are different from even a decade ago. Associations have to be willing to change how they market themselves and the industry as a whole. It’s critical that associations adapt to this era of technology, and embrace it even.

AI Assists With Personalized Content and Engagement

AI is assisting with member engagement because as more and more data is collected, the more personalized the content becomes. After all, membership renewals and even referrals sent to peers from current members (email forwarding, anyone?) increase based on how engaged they are with the content hitting their inbox. If there’s churn it’s because member engagement has been lost at the most important touchpoints – email or social media.

If your association’s members aren’t actively engaged, how do you keep them? Well, you can’t. The value proposition isn’t there. But, thanks to AI, you can help identify where the barriers are, and how to fix the problem.

Let us explain.

What Can AI Do For Your Association?

If it seems like your association cannot avoid software, it's true. Consider what AI and other software can do to help your non-dues revenue.

The first step to understanding what artificial intelligence can do to deliver personalized content to your members is to identify what our human employees can’t do. AI can help to identify where members are passively engaged and those who are passively disengaged. AI creates an engagement tool for identifying potential challenges and risks, opportunities and trends.

Personalization software can easily scan the open sea of the internet, including social media, communication services, and local news outlets for mentions of your association by individual members or the community. This can help you create content for a personalized experience that will let your members know that they are important.

But My Members Like My Content, Don’t They?

Here’s the thing. Right now, 30-40% of association members are not engaged because the content they are being sent is not targeted specifically to their interests. It’s general, broad sweeping content, and not personalized content.

AI, when provided with your members’ interests, can deliver personalized content to your members. This is not only going to leave their queries satisfied but leave our members knowing that their individual interests matters.

What Are The Benefits to Using Content Personalization Software in Your Association?

Personalized content can help your members see the value of your association and it can be like a one on one dialogue as these people are having.

AI’s Prediction Methods Help to Find Solutions that Work for Your Members

In an article posted on SingleGrain.com discussing how AI is utilized by marketing companies, it states that AI software is helping to, “…predict the behavior of customers”. Prediction is something we should be very interested in when it comes to our members.

Predicting and anticipating what members want and need is going to keep your association relevant. Knowing what members want before they do, and providing them with it when they do know, is going to keep them engaged and interested in your association.

AI can sift through massive amounts of data and find correlations, connections, opportunities, and risks. When prospects or existing members interact with your content, AI looks at those interactions and finds the opportunities and the challenges. This method of “prediction” gives associations a chance to see what works and what doesn’t, and perhaps opportunities for new ways to create additional engagement.

Engagement is at the heart of any association, like these women relating and laughing together. AI can help facilitate engagement when it's not in a social setting.

Delivering the Types of Content that Matter to your Members

When you know what matters to your members, you’re in a better position to cater to them.

We currently live in a world where all types of information and services are just a click away, so you want to deliver personalized content that is specifically useful or important to your members. Personalized experiences are at the heart of connecting with your consumers, members, and prospects.

AI software gains more insight into these specific needs at a rate which would be impossible for humans to do on their own. By scouring the exponentially growing amount of data effectively, AI is able to cut the wheat from the chaff more efficiently. And by cutting away the information that is not relevant to your members, your interactions will be more effective in keeping them engaged.

What types of personalized content and information would be important to members of an art + technology association? Perhaps they would attend a presentation like the one here where an artist-in-residence is lecturing at a gallery nearby?

Driving Traffic With Personalization Strategies

AI’s ability to determine the values of our individual members gives us the means to pinpoint a much smaller target audience than ever before for our content and services. Being part of an association should make our members feel like they belong to something that appeals to their specific beliefs and needs.

If our content is a blanket statement to our audience of thousands, hundreds, or even just dozens of members, we are going to inevitably be leaving some people out of the equation. Utilizing the ability to look into the kind of minutia that AI observes allows us to direct traffic and information with a precision that was not previously possible.

And it’s just that: we should view AI as a utility. We have entered the stage where AI and machine-learning is the underlying plumbing for everything. Not just content, but everything you could possibly consider that relies on a massive amount of data to gain insight.

Personalized Content to Keep Up With a Fast Paced World

You don’t have time to fritter away on guesswork, and neither do your members. If you want to keep your members association-loyal, you need to keep them engaged with the services and information that only you can provide them with.

When it comes to revenue, associations live off of member dues and non-dues revenue opportunities. If members are highly engaged, they are most likely to attend your association’s annual conference. So, obviously, you want the maximum attendance at these events because it brings in huge dollars. Your annual conference brings members and industry leaders together; AI will help you to achieve this goal.

Associations bring people together, like these two at a business meeting, but what happens when they leave? AI is one solution to leverage personalized content to keep your members coming back for more, thus finding greater value in your association.

Personalize Now or Lose Relevance Tomorrow

Artificial intelligence is not about “the what”; it’s about when and where. Utilizing AI is no longer a choice for associations. It used to be that having personalized content or experiences was a kind of luxury if you will.

In today’s world, if you are not delivering personalized content, you’re on the road to oblivion. Members will disengage, overwhelmed with the noise of the internet and their inboxes, and your association will, unfortunately, suffer the consequences. It’s now or never: if you don’t adopt this technology now, you will head the way of the dinosaurs, or perhaps a better comparison would be the way of the printed newspaper.

Giving your members personalized information is a line of direct communication from the largest figurehead to the smallest demographic, the individual member. Your members don’t have time to sift through the entirety of what we can provide them with to find what they specifically want. You have a very small time frame where you can catch their attention (and, more broadly, their continued membership).

The amount of information available to your association will only continue to grow. Adopting AI services into your processes is going to be the best way to keep up with a world that continues to move, growing faster than we can all account for.