In a crowded marketplace for trade and membership associations, keeping up with the top new marketing and branding trends is essential. Here are four top branding tips worth adding to your trade association marketing mix.

Find Your Audience. Many trade associations, especially those with large audiences, often think they have a sense of who the right members are, and where they are in their careers. Yet, the marketplace is dynamic and ever-evolving. It’s important to regularly survey both members and non-members through market research if possible, and through email outreach to your database at the very least. For membership associations, making sure you understand the trends of those in school or just entering the workforce is essential. This audience may be a key element in your long-term growth, but it will know very little about you or the value you can bring to them at the start of their careers. Recognizing what they want and need, and marketing that to them, is difficult – it’s often a hard audience to reach.

Feed Your Audience. Creating the right content that they will find valuable and not just a sales pitch needs to be a key component of your marketing mix. That means investing the time and energy to create a regular stream of blog posts as well as insights and offers so that your association is viewed as a thought leader that can help shape careers. The second part of this equation is getting that content in front of your
target audiences. This needs to include a regular cadence of emails that push out this content, a smart organic and paid search strategy, a cohesive social media plan with consistent execution, and a banner ad and retargeting program to ensure that your brand reaches the audience and reinforces your value.

Your Content Needs to Grab Their Attention. In today’s internet overload landscape, people no longer read but rather scan headlines and images, looking for something that is interesting and grabs their attention. While it’s easy to rely on text-based outreach, incorporating compelling graphics, video and even animation can move the needle more quickly. This will become even more significant as engagement moves more and more to mobile devices. The small screens favor video and graphics and are less kind to text that is hard to read and

Measure and Monitor.  Keeping on top of the pulse of your members and target audiences takes time and effort, but is worth the energy. Membership surveys at least once a year are a good, cost-effective place to start, but it won’t get you insight into non-members. Invest in
a thorough market survey at least every other year to test how your brand is perceived versus other competitors. Monitor other players closely so that you know if they may be moving in a new direction, or increasing their efforts to dominate the space. The goal is no surprises. If there are changes to the market or your position in the market, the sooner you recognize these trends, the better you will be equipped to respond.

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