As someone who works in the digital communications business, I work on many different channels of communication every day. Determining the best ways to effectively communicate with members, drive engagement and grow non-dues revenue is a constant focus for associations.
When assisting associations in this process, we often take these four steps:
- Evaluate your current state of operations
Are your current operations and communication products efficient and effective? Look at the impact of your communication channels through readership analysis, operational cost and revenue generation to determine which are successful. Sometimes, you might have a product your members love but doesn’t generate revenue due to poor advertising options. If you don’t have expertise inside your organization to determine why it isn’t generating the revenue you think it should, seek out a partner who can assist in the evaluation and provide recommendations to grow ad revenue. Conversely, you may have a product that generates a lot of revenue, but the resources it requires to produce are too intensive or the member engagement is low. These are the products on which you need to focus product improvement or your revenue will eventually suffer.
- Look at what’s trending
You’ll want to look at digital trends to understand how to better communicate online to get your voice out to more people in this digital age. There are more channels and tools to communicate with your members than ever before. This provides associations with the ability to stay relevant by delivering content in multiple ways, expanding reach to members and industry professionals through the mediums they prefer most.
- Break down your communication plan
After evaluating your operations and looking at the latest trends, you need to determine areas of improvement to see what type of communication channels are most effective for your association. At this point, you understand your audience better and are able to use that knowledge to adjust your communications. Break down your communication plan fully-
What is working, what isn’t and what new channels you want to add in to drive engagement and grow revenue.
- Assess your corporate partnerships
This is a tricky subject, but, in brief, not everybody can be a corporate partner. You have an existing partnership program that likely generates a good amount of revenue for you. However, you want to offer opportunity and value to all, as well as grow revenue. If you don’t fully assess your corporate partner programs, adding new opportunities or changing their partner benefits could cause you to lose revenue instead of growing it. It is important to talk with your current partners so you know what part of their program is most important to them. The goal is to enrich your current programs to maintain revenue and important relationships, while expanding the opportunities for all to market to your members through your communication channels.
Through these four evaluation steps, you should have a good grasp of what works, what doesn’t and what needs tweaking. You’ll see the opportunities that lie within reach.
The ultimate goal is to strike a balance so your association, your members and your advertisers achieve increased ROI, whether through valuable resources as part of membership, increased branding and client base or more members and revenue.
Remember, if it’s not high impact for your association members, it’s probably not high impact for those wanting to invest in it. Focus on the quality of your communication plan to further your association’s mission with increased member satisfaction and non-dues revenue growth.