In a year of complex changes and challenges, the resources, research and guidance provided by associations has never been more critical. While a strong focus has been rightly placed on transforming conferences, events and education into engaging virtual experiences and enabling connections through online forums, product sales may have fallen by the wayside. With fewer opportunities for in-person engagement, this important component of revenue generation requires visibility. How can your association ensure its products remain top of mind? Here are four steps to engage members and customers.
Identify your audience’s new needs
You know who your traditional members and customers are, but have you checked in with them lately? What about any new contacts attracted by free, online accessibility to your events or resources? Understanding the challenges each audience is facing right now will make it possible for you to reevaluate segments, how products are positioned, and how they are promoted.
By taking some time to become reacquainted with your audience, you can better empathize and understand how their priorities and needs may have shifted over the past six months. Visualizing and summarizing these unmet needs and goals with personas will help ensure you and your staff are on the same page as you craft marketing and promotional campaigns.
Reframe your value proposition
Your value proposition may have resonated effectively with key audiences before Covid-19, but you likely need to rethink your approach to fit our current reality. If the needs of your members and customers have changed, it’s probable that their spending behavior, the value they place on products, and their willingness to purchase has as well. How do your publications, certificates, education offerings and other products help them achieve their goals? Align your messaging for key products to address the current environment and go beyond simply providing insight into “what’s in it for me” by making the benefit of the product in light of the pandemic the main focus.
Pivot your products
When 2020 began, you had a plan for product promotion, a schedule for releasing new products in an organized and thoughtful manner, and established sales goals. Before the first quarter was over, these well-thought-out plans were completely undone.
Over the past six months, you’ve worked hard to pivot your organization’s strategy to adjust to the new normal. Products and services outside of conferences and membership may have taken a back seat, but now is the time to pivot your approach to product marketing to make sure you are providing value to your members and customers. Ask yourself:
- What products do we have that don’t directly address our audience’s current needs? These may need to be sunset or considered a lower priority so they don’t distract from the promotion of products that help your members and customers tackle their current challenges.
- Are there popular products that could be bundled and sold as a set? If a training course that typically sold publications as part of the event has moved online, actively making the connection between two relevant products — i.e. the training course and the publication — may help drive sales in addition to being appreciated by your members and customers.
- Are there current product bundles that could be offered as individual items? While selling some publications in a set or bundled with relevant training makes sense for certain topics, members and customers may appreciate being able to make a smaller, more focused purchase for others.
Build your campaigns
After reevaluating the core components of your product marketing campaigns, it’s time to rebuild them for success in the Covid-19 world. Build out campaigns that are sensitive to your audience’s current needs and realities. Provide opportunities for them to engage in your content in meaningful ways, even if they aren’t able to make a purchase at this time by offering teaser content, testimonials and flexible approaches for purchases. Frame your message and tactics so that your organization goes beyond selling to building connections and providing relevant value.
Follow these four ways to engage and members and customers and demonstrate how your association’s content will help them with immediate challenges and act as an investment in long-term success.