2013 Association Marketing Trendswatch

2013 Association Marketing Trendswatch

Written by Rachel Friedmann, MA, MSM, former Senior Business Development and Marketing Manager

This year I had the pleasure of participating on the Marketing Section Council and helping produce the Association Marketing Trendswatch report. In the survey and report’s second year, the Market Section Council started with a virtual focus group in mid-January 2013 followed by an April survey completed by ASAE marketing, membership and communication members. To present the report and survey findings, a few Council members, including myself, participated in a panel discussion on June 5 at ASAE’s Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference (MMCC). Below I discuss a couple of the top trends and how McKinley helps associations with related challenges. View the full report and all of the trends.


Trend #3 Micro targeting and/or Personalization

Many organizations are rethinking how they send out and target communications. The trend of micro targeting and/or personalizing marketing and communications is considered “important” or “very important” by 78% of respondents. Also, half of those who found the concept of applying “Big Data” to marketing efforts “extremely important” rated micro targeting and personalization as “very important.” These results make sense since Big Data is needed to facilitate segmentation. Those who spoke up during the MMCC discussion had great success when segmenting their data and focusing their communications and messaging. However, many participants mentioned time as their largest barrier. The second challenge was proper tools. A recommended solution is to create messaging and channel matrices to help marketers easily identify target audiences, messaging that resonates and aligns with organizational goals, and best uses of channels to ensure messaging is seen by the appropriate audiences. The matrices McKinley has created for our clients incorporate research and assessments of current marketing and communications activities along with best practices observed and refined for other associations. One outcome of our matrices recently won the ASAE Gold Circle Award. We worked with the American Alliance of Museums on recruitment collateral which won this year’s award for Membership Recruitment Piece.

Trend #4 Identifying New Products and Services

Not surprisingly, 87% of survey respondents rated identifying new products and services as “very important” and “important.” During the MMCC session, participants agreed that vetting new products is important and that sunsetting products can be troublesome. Common barriers cited for sunsetting products included:

  1. Concern over alienating a small, loyal contingency, who wants to keep an unpopular product or print version of a publication
  2. Concern over alienating advertisers, who want to advertise in print and not online
  3. The philosophy that a low performing product just needs more marketing resources
  4. Volunteer leader or staff member’s pet project

While session participants agreed research and vetting is needed prior to developing, modifying or sunsetting products or programs, few had appropriate processes in place at their associations. Jessica Marko Brandt recently wrote a blog post about McKinley’s extensive process to assess associations’ portfolios, including a look at the cost to produce and the impact on the organization’s finances.

Please contact Rachel with questions about this year’s ASAE Marketing Trendswatch or on McKinley’s approach to solving association’s biggest challenges.