“Your Association Shortcut” authored by Robert Skrob, CPA, CAE , helps businesses and entrepreneurs navigate the insider society and internal processes used by more than 100,000 professional and trade societies . It is a complete guide on how to find associations, identify the best ones for your brand and position yourself to be of value to an association and communicate effectively so that the association in return endorses your company or product to their members. “Your Association Shortcut”, www.YourAssociationShortcut.com reveals the strategy and tools for succeeding when entering the world of America's extensive association community explaining in detail the mind- set, who is in charge, finding ways to be of value to an association and enhance their membership before a business requests an endorsement.
Skrob has run numerous successful trade shows and witnessed the phenomenon first-hand. His company, Membership Services Inc., is an association management company that during the past 10 years, has worked with over 20,000 associations in boardrooms and classrooms. Robert has coached a diverse range of associations, some of the largest in the world, including: medical, manufacturing, fraternities, chambers of commerce at the local, state and national levels.
He has also led sessions, facilitated strategic plans, and conducted operational audits for associations. Robert has helped thousands of companies tap into the power of associations to generate customers for their own business. Robert began coaching exhibitors on best practices so they were prepared to understand how to best benefit the association and be a valued company to the, He developed a handbook of ‘shortcuts’ for working with any kind of association in order to grow a customer base.
“Associations are the affiliate partner you never knew you had, promoting your company as a member benefit,” says Skrob. “Plus, association marketing gives you more credibility as everything you do carries the implied endorsement of the association.”
Q) Are associations and what is association marketing?
A) Associations are groups of people with a similar interest. They are often organized around industries (such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America) or professions (such as the American Medical Association). They may also be organized around interests (such as the American Running Association or the American Diabetes Association) or around a demographic (such as AARP.)
There are 5 ways to market to the members of associations.
Join- Get yourself into the same stream of information your customers enjoy, and learn as much about the industry as the individuals you are marketing to. As a member of the association, you’ll receive newsletters, email notices and, often, access to the association’s members-only website with additional resources.
Participate - Association events provide a lot of ways for you to meet and interact with your prospective customers. For many, attending events provides the opportunities they need to interact with customers. For additional exposure, exhibiting or sponsoring events elevates your presences and brings you to the attention of your best prospects.
Contribute - Take advantage of the opportunities that associations provide you to contribute to the community by submitting articles for association publications as well as making presentations at association events.
Affiliate - Develop an endorsed provider relationship with associations to provide them with a membership benefit they can promote to their members.
Partner- Build a platform where the association can recruit and retain members while you grow your company.
Q) Who should be thinking about marketing through associations?
A) Any company, small business owner, entrepreneur or blogger that could benefit by marketing to a group of people with a defined industry, profession or interest. If you are able to tailor your message to a particular niche interest group, then associations provide you with a great way to reach that group.
A lot of companies already market through associations, every day there are thousands of people attending association events, trade shows and contributing to association newsletters. There’s never been a step-by-step guide for showing how to do it until now.
Q) You say there are 1.9 million associations within the United States; shouldn’t we be marketing to them as potential customers?
A) Sure, but the people offering products and services that associations consume is a lot more narrow than the number of people who could benefit by marketing through associations to their members.
Q) What do you mean when you say, “Associations will do all of the marketing for you?”
A) Member benefit programs – Associations are always looking for new incentives they can give their members to get new members to join and encourage current members to renew. By offering a product or service that’s exclusively available through the association (usually done with discounted pricing for association members) the association will endorse your product to its members. In these programs the association promotes your product or service to its members together with the members only pricing. The association uses its media, emails, magazines, website, and events to promote you along with its other benefits. You are promoted as the solution to the association members’ problems and you get customers without all the upfront marketing expenses.