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Top 5 Association Marketing Takeaways from Xperience2014

by | Apr 24, 2014 | Industry News & Trends

Last week we shared the most noteworthy association management concepts from the Xperience2014 Customer Conference, held March 31 – April 1, 2014 at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort in St. Petersburg, FL. This event provided an Xcellent platform for customers, employees and industry thought leaders to connect, engage and grow. Throughout the show our guests had the opportunity to attend sessions focused on business, marketing and association management best practices. This week we’ve put together a summary of the most powerful association marketing recommendations that our thought leaders discussed in their presentations.

1. Utilize NeuroMarketing Strategies

Successful associations develop clear, effective, powerful marketing strategies that target the reptilian brain and aim to alleviate their members’ pains.

In a very captivating opening session Christophe Morin, PHD, CEO and Chief PAIN Officer for SalesBrain, taught us that Neuromarketing is the fusion of Neuroscience and Marketing. The primary goal of Neuromarketing is targeting the “buy button,” which is located within the reptilian section of the brain. Your reptilian brain represents your unconscious, instinctual self, and it always wins over your rational and emotional brain. There are 6 types of stimuli that affect the reptilian brain: emotional, visual, tangible, the beginning and end, contrast, and self-centered.

These 6 stimuli can be translated into 4 steps that should be used to guide your association’s marketing strategies:

(1)   You must diagnose your members’ pain

(2)  Differentiate your claim; focus on the 3 key assertions that separate you from your competitors

(3)  Demonstrate how you will eliminate your members’ pain, and

(4)  Deliver to your members’ reptilian brain.

If you utilize these 4 steps correctly you can locate the illusive “buy button” and deliver powerful marketing campaigns that engage your current and prospective members.

2. Establish Integrated Online Communities

Your association should be strategically developing and maintaining an integrated online community that makes sense for your members. 

Ben Martin, CAE and Chief Engagement Officer at Online Community Results, shared his valuable insights on the significance of social media. Your association should be thinking in terms of Return on Engagement when it comes to social media and online communities. Increased engagement results in indirect financial returns in the form of increased retention, recruitment, event attendance, product purchases, word of mouth, and financial donations. Members who engage online are more likely to renew, evangelize membership, attend your annual conference, volunteer, contribute to your PAC, and give to your foundation.

3. Be a Content Curator

Be a trusted resource for your members by providing easy access to the high value information they are seeking.

Your members are being bombarded with information. You can be the one to help them acquire the tools and develop the skills they need to focus, make sense, understand, and ultimately make better decisions. Elizabeth Engel, MA, CAE, CEO and Chief Strategist of Spark Consulting, believes associations need to focus their resources and efforts on becoming content curators, instead of broadcasting and information-creating. Content curators need to identify and provide relevant, high-quality information that delivers value to their audience. Some associations will need to fundamentally change their organizational approach, teach their staff a new set of skills, and initiate a new type of relationship with their members. This leap is necessary, however, in order to establish a new type of thought leadership that is compatible with the information era.

 4. Improve Your Association’s Marketing Efforts

Willis Turner, CAE, CME, CSE and CEO of Old Clayburn Association Management, gave us 5 key marketing recommendations that you can employ to advance your association’s marketing efforts.

(1) Develop your marketing sense – You should always be thinking about marketing, constantly keep it in the back of your mind until it becomes a 6th sense.

(2)  Give people something to talk about – People love to talk, so start a conversation and share content that your members will want to respond to.

(3)  Use socialEngaging your members through social media will require some effort, but the juice is worth the squeeze. Engaging with your members makes them feel like their voice is important and influential, and it creates a positive impression of your organization.

(4)  Guerrilla marketing – Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive.  Think outside of the box; be creative, innovative, and unconventional in your pursuit to obtain maximum exposure at a low-cost.

(5)  WORM (Word of Respected Mouth) – Be a trusted resource for your members by providing relevant, quality information that they can rely on. Constantly evolve and progress by encouraging dialog and facilitating debates.

(Bonus!) Storytelling– People love stories, so work on mastering the art of storytelling, and make sure you have a good one.

5. Embrace Gamification

 Developing a gaming mentality, and/or embracing those who do, can drive your association’s success.

 Shelly Alcorn, CAE, author of the Association Subculture blog and host of the Association Forecast show, taught us about the traits gamers possess and how association leadership and boards can benefit from them. Implementing a gaming mentality can help with engagement gaps, making meaningful choices, progression to mastery, social connection and habit formation. As an association your goal should be to get your members to play and to keep them playing using both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Make sure to guide your members through each stage of their Player Journey by providing onboarding programs, scaffolding and motivation for progression to mastery.

Xperience2014 served as an Xtraordinary platform for sharing ideas, both inside and outside of the meeting rooms. YM customers met with the YM Team, Industry Thought Leaders and each other, at this customer conference that encouraged them to discuss and share the best practices that they have personally developed.

What key marketing takeaways were you able to implement within your own organization? We would love to hear from you as we plan for Xperience2015!



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