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Marketing & Communication for Today and Tomorrow

"Organizational Marketing and Advertising: What's Your Plan?"
By Benjamin Daniel, Associate Director

The global economy is in a freefall. Nationally, the American economy continues to contract and is still shedding businesses of all sizes. The impact of this economic downturn is being felt by trade associations also. As businesses downsize, association memberships can fall victim to budget slashing as non-essential expenditures.

How can your organization remain viable and continue to serve its members during these difficult times? Now, more than ever, associations must reinforce and promote the value of member benefits to current and prospective members. Start by evaluating your association's marketing plan.

As associations look to cut costs and improve efficiencies, Boards may be tempted to cut marketing and advertising budgets. While there may be ways to improve the reach of your association's marketing, advertising and branding campaigns, it could prove costly for your association's long-term viability. In addition to making use of traditional media in your marketing and advertising plans, the Internet provides a cost effective host of tools for associations to use to boost their profiles, increase visibility and expose themselves to new audiences. Some of the tools your company might consider include:

  • SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO): Where does your association's web site rank on Google, Yahoo! and other search engines? These companies offer SEO tools designed to improve the volume of traffic to web sites. For marketing purposes, SEO considers how search engines work and what people search for. SEO also involves using keywords to increase the frequency with which items appear in Internet searches.
  • WHAT'S YOUR LOGO SAYING? Your association's brand identity is an important part of its public face. How long have you used your association's logo? Has its mission changed? Have you polled your members and/or former members to determine whether the logo still resonates? Do people see your association's logo and think, "Wow, I'm proud to be associated with that organization"? It can't hurt to revisit your association's graphic identity.
  • PRINT IS (FOR MANY) STILL IN: While traditional print media is, in many cases, struggling to adapt to the rise of web-based targeted marketing strategies, a significant number of trade publications still exist and should be added to the mix. Don't put all your marketing and advertising eggs in the web basket. Studies show many affluent and well-educated consumers still read. As always, poll your members. A little survey can go a long way.

These tools represent an incredibly small sample of what is available to organizations willing to investigate and invest in their long-term health. Empower your marketing committee to conduct fact-based research, develop viable metrics and continue working to strategically position your association for long-term success.