Trade association marketing is never easy, and for trade associations, the competitive landscape has never looked more crowded. Not only are there more organizations chasing new members, there are also more for-profit companies offering competing services. As a result, whether you are with a trade association whose members include large corporations, or a membership association with thousands of individuals enjoying your services and offerings, it takes a strong brand strategy and a sophisticated outreach plan to efficiently and effectively continue to attract new members and retain existing members, and to drive attendees to your conferences and events.

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The old way of doing business for even the most established associations may not cut it anymore. In just one example, we’ve been working closely with a long-established membership association that is feeling the increased competition and has realized through market surveys that its brand awareness has been flat or declining over the past several years. Part of the reason is that more competing organizations are offering similar services. But much of the cause may be a result of having spent years branding its products and events separately from the association itself – a significant challenge for organizations that offer a wide range of services that have each been branded individually. As younger prospects are entering the market, they may know the products, but they don’t know the brand. Our solution is a multi-tiered, integrated approach that combines programmatic online media campaigns, fresh and compelling themes and creative, and a separate set of campaigns for the branded products themselves, all tied together through new messaging with the simple measurable goal of increasing brand awareness and engagement with the association.

For another large association that has been around longer than any other competitor in its vertical, one of the challenges has been a result of its age – its brand was getting stale. Our approach was a fresh look for the conference that brings in most of their annual revenue. For this client, our focus was on a bold new creative design that takes the brand color palette and re-imagines it as bold, contrasting tones that pop from a distance, with 3-D shapes that both fit the brand and stand out at a large trade show.

The point is that, for trade association marketing, there is not one solution for associations who need to up their game to attract and retain members. We’re not in Kansas anymore, and the old ways of doing business won’t get you where you need to be. It’s 2018, and time to take your marketing program to the next level.