3 Ways to Leverage Association Members as Content Marketing Sources

April 1st, 2016

Graphic_leverafing assoc members as content sourcesMembers want to consume and contribute to content, just look at the success of online communities. This is great news for association marketers because your members can help you by serving as:

-Data sources,

-Story sources and/or

-Writing sources.

The level of member effort needed varies, so let’s start with the easiest one.

Members as Data Sources

In this scenario, we can leverage association members’ opinions and behaviors as a source to compile interesting insights and industry facts. The time commitment of a member is usually low here, think surveys and poll questions.

The data collected can be rolled up into impressive data points represented in powerful infographics, slide decks and special reports. As an example, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) used data from its credential exam takers to produce an infographic about the kinds of professionals who are pursuing its credential, Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting (FSA).

Members as Story Sources

A key reason members pursue credentials and/or join organization is for recognition by peers and employers. We can fulfill the need for recognition and our content marketing needs simultaneously by making members (and/or their organizations) the center of the story. The time commitment of a member is low to moderate, think member spotlight stories, case studies and success stories.

Here’s an example from The Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), which asks members to submit their story about why they become part of ICE. It’s six questions members answer and submit online for use in the “meet our members” section of the ICE website. Questions include: Why did you become involved in the credentialing industry? And, what advice do you have for those just starting out in their credentialing career?

Members as Writing Sources

In this scenario, we leverage members as the experts who actually write content, such as blog posts, articles, guides and webinar content. The time commitment for a member is high, so it won’t be a fit for most of your members.

Here’s an example from the Scrum Alliance, which has an experts’ blog with handpicked contributors who bring a variety of points of view. They sign an agreement, abide by editorial policies and are regularly featured on the association’s website. To date, they have six regular bloggers.

Summing it Up

Association members can be wonderful custom content sources. You just need to provide a variety of ways for your members to contribute that fits with their level of availability. Serving as data sources, story sources and writing sources are just three options. How else could you leverage members as content sources?

About Pecanne Eby, MBA

I started working with associations in 2001 while living inside the Washington, DC beltway. I learned that associations play a vital role in providing advocacy, community and education to their members. And that a world without associations would be a very chaotic world. Today my mission is to help associations solve complex marketing problems, while rediscovering the joy of marketing. Learn more at www.brandmentoring.com or contact me directly at pecanne@brandmentoring.com.

3 Ways to Leverage Association Members as Content Marketing Sources

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Should associations do content marketing?

February 2nd, 2016

The short answer is AB-SO-LUTE-LY. And here’s why.

Associations have three key advantages:content marketing typewriter

1. Intrinsic thought leadership

2. Focused following and

3. Nonprofit status

Let’s take a closer look at why associations are in such a unique position to excel at content marketing.

Intrinsic Thought Leadership = Hub of a Community

By serving as the hub of their communities, associations possess intrinsic thought leadership. And yet associations still need to play a defensive game when it comes to protecting that thought leadership thanks to the rise of niche online communities, professional groups on social media and the proliferation of blogging.

LinkedIn has almost 2 million groups online. And according to Worldmeters there are about 3,000 new blog posts per minute. That is A LOT of content competition for associations.

In addition, the “rules” about who can be a voice for a community have changed. This alone should motivate associations to shift toward content marketing in order to protect their role as industry thought leaders. But here’s the key, association members are already online seeking answers and Google keeps rewarding websites with higher quality content. So it’s the perfect opportunity for associations to leverage content marketing as a way to attract, engage and retain members. Of course doing content marketing effectively takes a commitment to consistently producing, curating or syndicating high quality content.

Focused Following = Built-in Interest

Since associations have a lot of members and certificants rallied around the same industry or occupational field, an association’s content area can be truly focused. This is a good thing! According to Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute, successful content marketing starts with a focus on one specific audience. Yes, associations will have a variety of audience personas to address, ideally just 3-4 personas, but there is a common interest that focuses the content marketing effort.

baby steps in content marketingFor many it’s a game of baby steps as they keep the lights on with the usual marketing activities, while experimenting with content marketing. And it’s also a mind shift from talking about the association’s conferences and certification program, which is product focused, to acting like journalists and reporting industry news, issues, trends and ‘how to’ topics that matter.

And consider this, today 76% of nonprofit marketers and 88% of B2B marketers are currently doing content marketing (source: Content Marketing Institute).

Nonprofit Status = No Agenda

When it comes to benchmarking and communicating industry trends, associations are in a prime position given their nonprofit status, which generally ensures less-bias reporting. For example, while working with a software developer association, Scrum Alliance, I began their “State of Scrum” benchmark report because the software community wanted less-biased reporting about who was practicing scrum, how and why. The community wanted this report for two reasons: a) to validate their passion for scrum and b) to have a set of reliable facts to share with their management about the value of scrum. The Scrum Alliance, a nonprofit, was in a prime position to give credit and value to the importance of scrum.

Taking this one step further, associations can also be credible publishers of infographics, magazines, books, e-books, case studies and other fact-based content pieces as part of their content marketing. In a future post we’ll explore how to leverage members in producing content assets.

Summing it Up

Having consulted with many associations, I see the shift from traditional marketing communications to more team-based content marketing. It’s an exciting shift and it’s not just millennial marketers trying to disrupt the status quo. It’s being driven by the way people search, filter and consume content online. Plus research shows that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing (source: Demand Metric, 2014). Couple that with 78% of CMOs believing marketing content marketing is the future of marketing (source: Demand Metric, 2014) and it’s clear why so many marketers are pursuing content marketing. The business case, coupled with many new marketing technology options, creates a perfect storm for associations to pursue content marketing.

I believe associations are still in the early days of content marketing, so now is the right time to begin experimenting with content marketing. Becoming proficient does take time, planning and often some cultural transformation, so I’ll address these topics more in future posts, stay tuned!

About Pecanne Eby, MBA

I started working with associations in 2001 while living inside the Washington, DC beltway. I learned that associations play a vital role in providing advocacy, community and education to their members. And that a world without associations would be a very chaotic world. Today my mission is to help associations solve complex marketing problems while rediscovering the joy of marketing. Learn more at www.brandmentoring.com or contact me directly at pecanne@brandmentoring.com.

Should associations do content marketing?

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Emotional Connection in Marketing — Lessons from Shark Tank

July 9th, 2015

I admit it, I actually watch regular TV from time to time.

One of my clients got me hooked on Shark Tank, a show where tough, self-made, multi-millionaire and billionaire tycoons — search to invest in hopeful entrepreneurs.

The sales and marketing psychology in “the tank” is completely fascinating and educational. Last night we saw Lori Greiner beat out “Mr. Wonderful”, Kevin O’Leary, by emotionally connecting with the entrepreneurs, thus securing a 20% equity stake.

How did she do it?

First, she addressed the key pain point for the entrepreneurs, which was to get their product distributed in retail stores since they already had success selling on TV. Mr. Wonderful skipped over that part and instead focused on a rational discussion of his financial risk and how the entrepreneurs would need to mitigate that for him.

Second, she emotionalized her investment offer by calling for a, “Money Meditation Moment.” She asked the two entrepreneurs to close their eyes and imagine themselves sailing with her a boat around Martha’s Vineyard and see her handing them a check for millions of dollars. Simply, she appealed to their hearts, hopes and dreams.

The lesson for us as marketing professionals is to never forget that we are marketing to Head vs Heartactual human beings who crave emotional connection. Who have pain, worries, concerns, fears, hopes, dreams and goals. When we make an emotional connection in our marketing efforts, we increase our attraction of new leads, conversion rates and getting others to share our brand/product/idea on our behalf. Never underestimate the power of emotional connection, it earned Lori a nice little deal.Thanks, Sharks for combining entertainment with business education.


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