Promotion Tips for Associations
Making the Most of a Limited Marketing Budget
Here are some tips for associations regarding attention they can give or efforts they can make to the area of Breed Promotion. Some of these suggestions can cost very little money, making promotion possible for those organizations that might currently be cash strapped.
-Establish actual working breed promo or marketing committees. Make sure at least some of the members on those committees bring some marketing or promotions experience to the table
-Learn about and recognize what the various components of marketing are such as the difference between advertising and public relations.
-Recognize that there is a difference between member relations and external marketing. Supporting existing programs and giving back to the members are NOT breed promotion. These efforts, while needed, are a form of important marketing better categorized as member relations.
-Member-focused promotions are important. In tough economic times do not just go to the members for money and business. Try to find ways to incentivize members that don’t actually cost the association money. For example, the American Shetland Pony Club recently established a sale on one of its registration options. More recently, the ASPC’s Board of Directors approved a special related to 2012 memberships that will give each first member who has renewed to date for 2012 or who joins/renews for 2012 before July 1 a $20 credit in their account to use toward other registry business.
-Develop a well-crafted and consistent message.
-If you are multi-breed association, come to grips with the fact you may need multiple targeted messages. Each message may have a different audience. The all-for-one type of promotion is only truly good for overall branding. Special promotional plans for each division can be drafted to actually foster business and, therefore, revenue, in a way that association branding cannot.
-In tough economic times, associations may feel they need to decrease or discontinue paid advertising. In that case, they should choose to focus limited promotion budgets on public relations – ie, doing things that can result in free positive coverage. Send out news releases. Invite media to large events. Encourage members and shows to engage in grassroots promotion.
-No matter the size of your promotional budget, take advantage of less expensive means of promotion such as preparing quality news releases containing true news or important events and submit those to targeted media outlets.
-Be open to breed and program committees choosing to use their own annual budgets on promotion. If an association isn’t able to commit to promotion, then breed committees or a group of individual members coming together for a common good may need to take on that type of promotion work instead. A good feature about one of the two latter conducting promotion, the message can be much more tailored and focused.
-Continue to work with your “go to” media as a way to reach your existing audience. However, realize that new audiences may lie well beyond the tried and true. Think outside the box. Dare to branch out with your media work.
-Online media is a growing sector. It can also be less expensive than print publications. Consider devoting a small part of limited promotion efforts or budgets there.
-If any credible media outlet offers you free advertising space or routinely requests for news from your association or breed, take advantage of the opportunity! You never know what kind of new potential enthusiasts you might reach.
-Make use of virtual marketing or freelance creatives to stretch your marketing dollar. There are professional out there who, under the guidance of a volunteer breed promotion committee, can prepare quality articles, news release, events, etc. This type of virtual marketing work can be much more affordable than higher even a part-time marketing staff or jobbing out to a full-service marketing agency.
-Don’t automatically say NO to all promotion.
-Don’t be afraid to rely on volunteers.
-Think outside the box.
The final blog of this marketing series will focus on some grassroots, individual and committee-driven promotion ideas. Even if associations cannot or will not market on a large scale, individuals and small groups can promote on their own with little money.