Look closely at your metrics. How well did your trade association marketing campaigns for 2020 perform? If you’re hoping to do better in 2021, we have some ideas to share with you.
Video is among the best free marketing tools for trade and professional associations. And you don’t need fancy equipment or expensive lighting to make it work. In fact, anyone in your association can make a video that helps you shine. Share those videos, and you could see your influence grow.
Here’s how (and why) to make it happen.
Trade Associations Are Here to Stay
The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) says there are more than 66,000 trade and professional associations at work in the United States. Every year, more groups apply for recognition from the IRS to do work as a nonprofit association.
These groups range from the infamous to the unknown. Here are some examples:
- Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine
- American Association of Law Libraries
- American College of Phlebology
- American College of Prosthodontists
- American Dental Association
- American Hospital Association
- American Institute of Architects
- American School Counselor Association
- American Society of Civil Engineers
- American Society for Microbiology
- Healthcare Financial Management Association
- Independent Educational Consultants Association
- International Association of Fire Chiefs
- NASPA—Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
- National Association of College and University Business Officers
- National Association of REALTORS
- National Association of the Remodeling Industry
- National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors
Every one of these organizations should work as a representative for the industry they represent, says the Property Care Association. That’s what trade associations do. They speak on behalf of members to government officials, members of the media, and more.
And people join trade associations to gain access to power, says CompTIA. Without the work of these groups, industries might be subject to increased scrutiny or government interference. The work trade associations do can insulate members so they can carry on uninterrupted.
Officials often have multiple associations to choose from, each with a slightly different angle. An engineer, for example, could choose from a baffling list of associations that fills up an entire computer screen. Which one is best? Which one serves an engineer with specific goals and needs?
Marketing plans answer those questions.
Why Video Should Be Part of Your Trade Association Marketing Plan
Imagine that you’re looking for a way to draw people into your trade association. You could use billboards, print ads, blogs, and more. But if you’re eliminating video, you could be missing out.
Experts explain that trade associations need to provide just-in-time information to their members. It’s not enough to hold an annual meeting and entice new members to join you. Instead, you need to show people value every day with content that is timely, real, and compelling.
Video is uniquely qualified to fit this need. Video is:
- Searchable. Add the right keywords to your video, and it will appear in critical moments when people tap out questions.
- Digestible. Your ideal members may not have time to read a white paper, blog post, or prospectus. But they will likely have time to watch a 30-second spot.
- Personal. Use current members, and your prospects will immediately have a relatable moment when the video begins.
- Shareable. One video can appear almost everywhere, including in blogs, on social media, and on your website.
What Sets Your Organization Apart?
As part of your trade association marketing plan, you’ll need to determine what makes your association different from your competition. That means you’ll need a clear understanding of both your mission and your brand.
Your association’s mission defines who you are and why you exist. That can change over time. ASAEexplains that associations built to last 100 years often have to explore new ideas and rethink who belongs within the organization. Consider:
- Current participants. Who are they? What job titles do they hold? Where do they work?
- Prospective participants. Who are they? What makes them different from the members you have?
- Problems solved. What do you focus on each day in your association?
- Major achievements. What have you accomplished that your members are (or should be) excited about?
Your mission statement can bleed into a vision statement. Here, you define how you will help your members. Experts say finding this key point can be as easy as filling in this formula: “Our vision is a space in which [the problem you fix no longer exists].”
With your mission and vision defined, it’s time to consider your brand. An association brand, experts say, can be established by answering three questions:
- What are the features and benefits you offer?
- What do members think about you?
- What qualities do you want to be associated with membership?
You may already have a brand and vision defined. But it’s worthwhile to reexamine those documents regularly, so you ensure you’re on track. And if you don’t have them defined, it’s time to pull together your leadership team and get those documents codified.
Explain Yourself in Video
With your vision and brand defined, you’re well on the way to exceptional association marketing videos. Incorporating those elements into the perfect video is really easy.
- Discuss your mission. Ask a member of your leadership team to talk about the work you do, your amazing accomplishments, or the work you have planned in 2020.
- Highlight key benefits. Ask current members to describe why they joined your association and what they get out of their membership.
- Illuminate connections. Ask an important ally (like a lawmaker or regulator) to discuss their work with you, and how you’ve changed the face of the industry.
- Answer questions. If you’re hard at work on an issue that touches your community (such as an impending law or regulation change), dig into the specifics and discuss your role. Ask a member who is focused on the issue to describe the work being done right now.
Who Should Join You?
Think of videos as conversations. You’re speaking into the camera, and your words are reaching the perfect person who nods with approval. Who is this person? To ensure that you get nods (not frowns), it pays to consider your audience.
Membership surveys give you the opportunity to learn more about who finds value in your membership. Incorporating a few important questions can help to guide your association marketing plan. Ask about:
- Social habits. Where do your members spend time online (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, or another site)?
- Association research. How did your members find out about you?
- Industry research. Where do they go when they have a question about your industry?
- General knowledge. Can your members define your mission?
Dig deep into the data you get back. Questions about who you are and what you do can help you create a video that clarifies your position in the industry. Questions about where your members spend time can help you hone your sharing strategy.
If your current members have an overwhelming preference for one social media site or research site, your video should absolutely appear there. If they found out about you through an industry-specific site that’s still relevant, a share there makes sense too.
Your current members can’t speak for the people you want but haven’t reached quite yet. But the data you get in a survey could help you understand where to start your marketing efforts.
We Can Help
Gather Voices makes video easy. We help you collect videos created by your community, which you can then post on your own website. You can also use our platform to share your videos far and wide, so everyone knows about the work you do and what makes you different. Reach out today for a free demo.
- The Power of Associations: An Objective Snapshot of the U.S. Association Community. (January 2015). American Society of Association Executives.
- What Is a Trade Association? Property Care Association.
- Why Do People and Companies Join Trade Associations? (March 2018). CompTIA.
- Engineering Associations and Links. Industrial Quick Search.
- Time for Associations to Trade in Their Past? (May 2011). National Public Radio.
- Associations Built to Last 100 Years. (Fall 2019). American Society of Association Executives.
- Defining Your Association’s Mission, Vision, and Values. (June 2017). Member Clicks.
- Why Brand Identity Matters for Associations. (May 2017). Growth Zone.
Want to learn more about creating an engaging marketing plan? Join us for “Digital marketing strategies for ultimate content promotion” on Feb. 4, 2021. Attendee’s will learn digital marketing strategies for effectively engaging your audience with high-quality content published in all the right places. RSVP now!