6 Ways To Engage Association Members
Associations have always fought the battle for perceived value.
Simply put: Do your members receive their money’s worth? That’s the daunting challenge.
In recent years, the struggle has become even more difficult. Last year, 62% of surveyed associations either endured a membership decline or remained flat, according to MGI’s 2022 Marketing Membership Benchmarking Report.
Why? Here’s the short list: 1) Lack of engagement with organization, 2) Lack of value and 3) Forgot to renew. (Communicating and promoting your association’s recent innovation would help jog their memories.)
At CMA, we specialize in association management, membership outreach and member engagement. Our in-house marketing team has built an impressive record helping associations grow over the last 35 years.
Our association management clients want more members, more attendance at their events and more purchases when it comes to their educational products. Member engagement makes all of it happen.
Take a look at six ways CMA helps associations engage with their members as part of our association management service:
New Branding Elevates Value Proposition
With our strategic counsel and execution, the former Rental & Staging Network recently rebranded itself as the Event Production Network (EPN) to capture its evolution from an event contributor to a full-service event creator.
EPN’s members create 30,000 memorable event experiences annually—from concept to completion—with the latest AV technology that transforms any event into an experience.
“For years, we had fought the notion that we are a commodity,” said EPN President Eric Newkirk, who is vice president of design and creative for CEAVCO Audio Visual, an AVFX Company. “During the pandemic, meeting planners and event organizers came to us for our service and expertise—not a bottomless pool of equipment and skilled labor. They had more problems, and we had more solutions. Our industry has changed dramatically, and we must keep up with the evolution.”
The evolution of EPN members becoming full-service, event production companies started about a decade ago, but the trend accelerated during the pandemic. In the last two years, EPN companies began adding new team members on the creative side and investing in new technologies to keep pace with expectations from a world that had quickly embraced high-end programming on streaming services.
As part of the rebranding campaign, CMA developed a hybrid event guide for meeting planners and event organizers that positioned EPN members as thought leaders in the AV event industry. The guide shared their real-world best practices for events amid the shift toward more events incorporating a virtual component.
To ensure brand awareness for the new brand, CMA also launched a programmatic advertising campaign and a retargeting ad campaign concurrently as part of our association management service. The initiative generated 811 clicks and 1,005,629 impressions to yield 83 downloads of the guide by targeted audiences.
CMA’s in-house PR team scored a few important industry media placements, which included a placement of EPN’s press release on Meetings Today’s homepage for seven consecutive days. The new logo, which our in-house Creative team developed, captures the memorable experience that every EPN member brings to an event: innovation, creativity and art. Its boldness and beauty create a feeling that resonates as the mark of a true leader, which supports the upgraded tagline, “THE North American Standard of AV Excellence.”
Mosaic typography reflects the diversity that each company brings to the table. This version of a mosaic with its distinct colors and connected shapes reflect the diversity of the network, creativity and dynamic movement that speak to the organizations core values – “Community” and “Shared Knowledge.” Some key words considered were customization, always changing, agility, reimagined, flexibility, trust and confidence. The san serif font with a strong and stable, geometric structure reinforces EPN’s premier, exclusive status.
Social Media Brings A Nationwide Community Together
On a national scale, the Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) asks its members to give back to the communities they serve every year during National Celebrate Services Week. ESPA is the only organization that is solely dedicated to advocating for the role and impact event service professionals have on the success of events.
In the absence of being able to meet in-person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we created a “virtual” celebration that used social media to extend the weeklong celebration. The campaign gave ESPA’s members and professionals within the services industry an opportunity to engage and network while celebrating their profession. Our in-house social media team identified a few social media channels as the ideal ways to reach the largest audience on a national scope. Social media promotion for the event included member spotlight stories, TikTok-inspired themed dances for each member’s city and live posts during educational webinars and happy hours.
The weeklong event was promoted on ESPA’s social media channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The hashtag #ServicesStrong was used to further drive awareness and conversations.
As the result, ESPA’s weeklong celebration helped deepen engagement with members by providing a forum for them to connect in a genuine way with engaging themes and fun and interactive posts. Here’s a quick look at the results from our association management service:
- 90 new followers
- 146 posts generated
- 24,767 impressions
- 1,506 engagements
- 751 post clicks
Website Overhaul Spurs New Member Energy
From a member engagement perspective, being found is where it begins for associations. But there is another crucial step. Making a great first impression when you are found is mission critical.
Our in-house Creative and Website teams helped the International Function Points Users Group (IFPUG) with its outward appearance. The two-year campaign started with a rebrand initiative that included the creation of a new logo for IFPUG, along with brand guidelines.
The second phase included a complete overhaul of their website. The website project allowed our team to redesign the site’s structure and pages to drive users to higher valued places that tied back to IFPUG’s business objectives. To cut through the old clutter, the streamlined format made it easier for users to find the certification page, which is directly linked to membership since you can’t be certified without being a member. We also motivated users to visit the Learning & Resources page where they can find helpful webinars, previews of upcoming conferences and insightful education material in the association’s publication, MetricViews.
We also prominently displayed IFPUG’s online store, referred to as the Learning Center, where paid educational products are available for purchase.
Since the website’s launch, which is part of our association management service, our association client has experienced a large increase in member engagement in the form of account creation on the website. Users must open an account to access free and paid education items.
Public Relations Builds Reputation, Relationships
We helped the New Jersey State Nurses Association with a media relations campaign that improved their stature that engaged more prospective nurses to join.
NJSNA, which advocates for New Jersey’s 125,000 registered nurses, wanted to reverse a decades-long membership decline, which was created when unionized nurses exited the organization in the mid-1980s. Another obstacle for the organization was the shift health care organizations made by cutting employee benefits that subsidized professional association membership, placing the membership decision in the hands of individual nurses, rather than their employer. To help NJSNA recast its value proposition to a B2C environment, we launched a reputation management campaign, which built goodwill with nurses by portraying NJSNA as their defender.
CMA mapped out “hot button,” newsworthy topics that spoke directly to NJSNA’s existing and prospective members—and then put the association right in the middle of the heated discussions. So how does an association compel prospective members to pay for industry advocacy, when it’s already giving it away for free? Well, you must take a strong public stand.
We promoted NJSNA’s commitment to several issues that resulted in micro-campaigns to reinforce the association’s position as defender of the nursing profession and an advocate for healthcare.
Key success and topics included:
- Victory: Earned Sick Day Legislation. NJSNA’s biggest public policy win was passage of sick leave legislation to protect all New Jersey workers. CMA rolled out a media blitz placing NJSNA’s message in all major state outlets. Additionally, CMA crafted speeches for NJSNA executives, who spoke at press conferences and testified before the NJ Assembly’s Labor Committee. Governor Murphy signed the bill into law in a ceremony with NJSNA CEO in attendance.
- Victory: Gun Violence Crisis. The campaign continued a multi-year effort to reduce gun violence. NJSNA was instrumental in getting two new laws passed in 2018, one allowing mental health professionals (including advanced practice nurses) to keep firearms away from patients who may be a danger to themselves or others, and the other banning 3-D printed guns because of the risk to public health and healthcare providers—especially nurses in ER units.
- Victory: Opioid Addiction Treatment. NJSNA members briefed federal law makers on how nurses can help in the opioid crisis and the following day the House of Representatives passed the bill, HR6.
Other “hot-button” topics included:
- Nurse Staffing Ratios: NJSNA spoke out against proposed legislation mandating staff ratios for patient care. News outlets such as NJBIZ and News Line openly supported NJSNA’s position.
- Workforce Shortages: CMA positioned NJSNA as the go-to resource when media needed info about nurse shortages and pay disparities. The Star-Ledger, Politico and The Press of Atlantic City, featured NJSNA thought leadership on the issue.
- Lobby Day Advocacy: Members travel annually to D.C. to meet with federal lawmakers regarding nursing and health care issues. This year’s event generated the highest monthly (organic) numbers of the year on social media, with 73,179 impressions, 3,430 engagements and 1,488 link clicks in June.
As part of our award-winning association management service, we delivered 46 high-value placements in third-party publications for a targeted reach of 1.26 million. We also provided other member-outreach services such as social media, email marketing and a weekly digital publication, to maximize the publicity. As a result, we helped the association onboard 766 new members with a 300%+ return on their marketing investment.
Livestreaming Events Ramp Up Member Engagement
Early in the pandemic, the American Pediatric Surgical Nurses Association (APSNA) needed to quickly share critical COVID-19 developments to its membership during a nationwide state of emergency.
Our in-house social media team recommended livestreaming. The numbers support the proposal. Most audiences (82%) prefer to watch a live video over standard social media posts. Live broadcasts account for one in five Facebook videos. In fact, live broadcasts generate 24x as many comments on LinkedIn.
Ultimately, we identified the Facebook Live feature as the ideal way to reach their largest audience on a national scope and promoted the event on APSNA’s social media channels.
APSNA’s one-day virtual event helped deepen engagement with members by providing a forum for them to connect in a genuine way—sharing regional updates about the pandemic and getting answers to questions in real-time. Consider the results from our association management service:
- Reach: 4,000
- Post Clicks: 232
- Reactions: 87
- Live Comments: 20
Online Member Directory Boosts Traffic, Revenue For Members
Typically, associations derive most of their revenue from membership, event attendance and educational products.
For the International Card Manufacturers Association (ICMA), however, we wanted to give their members more value by developing another possible stream of revenue.
To help spur business opportunities for ICMA members, we built and launched ICMA’s robust, searchable online membership directory, which was an upgrade from its static listing of companies. The new interactive feature allows companies—anywhere in the world—to quickly search 10 categories to find the right partner for any card-related project, helping members to garner more company brand recognition, sell more and gain business connections. Users can use the directory to search for a card equipment supplier, card manufacturer, card issuer and so much more.
With more than 200 members in more than 40 countries, the directory is a one-stop shop for all of members’ card project needs. Each ICMA member company can submit their own profile page in the directory section of the website, which is visible to all ICMA.com visitors. Profile pages feature a description of its company and its major products and services, as well as their company logo. Members also can list their company’s proprietary products and services.
The benefits of listing a members’ company information in the new online directory include amplifying the company’s online presence, additional traffic to their website, increased brand awareness and better search engine optimization on Google.
Within 12 months of implementation, our association management service generated more engagement and results for members:
- 850 individuals visited the directory for a total of 2,600 times
- Increase in website traffic resulting in a 105% increase in unique page views
- 95 ICMA members listed themselves in the directory
- 91% increase in visitors to the directory (compared to prior year)
- The new, interactive directory generated a 30% increase in referral traffic to member sites (compared to prior year)
Member engagement has become more difficult to create for associations during the last few years. But it doesn’t have to be that way. At CMA, we have a diverse, in-house team with many skillsets that will help individual member organizations and trade associations advance their missions. Our association management service begins with member engagement. If you need help moving forward, please contact us today!