Regular readers of this blog know we believe content marketing is a great fit for associations. The reason is simple: We’ve seen how well it can work to engage members and generate interest in an association’s events. So it was surprising to see that only about half (55%) of the respondents in our 2017 State of the Conference Industry survey said they are re-using their content. That means many associations are missing out on a great way to connect with their membership.
If your association is still not using your educational content for marketing, now is the time to start!
As with any organizational undertaking, it’s best to start your planning with a clear goal in mind. Content marketing is no different. Here are three questions to keep in mind as you assemble a team to begin this project. These questions will help you focus your efforts and provide a framework to measure the success of your work:
Question #1: What outcome does my association want to achieve?
Developing your content plan with your end goal in mind is a great way to begin your planning. Content strategy outcomes typically involve generating interest, awareness or revenue. Some common objectives that are well suited for content marketing include:
- Promoting you conference
- Building awareness for your association
- Keeping members or attendees engaged throughout the year
- Generating non-dues revenue for your association
Question #2: Which materials are of most interest to my attendees/members?
Another important question to answer early in your planning process is to determine which topics interest your audience. Talk with some of your members to find out their preferences. Doing this before you begin will save you a tremendous amount of time and effort later. Every industry is different, so there is no single type of content that works best. Some popular types of content to consider include:
- Promoting innovative research
- Becoming a resource for industry best practices
- Offering commentary on industry trends or other types of thought leadership
Bonus: Having a conversation with your members about their interests on a regular basis can help you offer in-demand conference sessions!
Question #3: How will we use our educational content for marketing?
With a goal in mind and an understanding of what interests your members, the next step is to think about putting your content to work. One common pitfall to content marketing is trying to do too many things. Answering this question will help your team stay focused. Again, let your goals drive the answer to this question.
For example, if your goal is to raise the awareness of your conference, you may choose to promote your online conference materials on social media to gain a wide audience. If your goal is to generate revenue for your association, however, a subscription-based site would make more sense.
A third option would let a visitor access your materials only after they provide their email address. You could then use this information to keep them up-to-date year round on important association news.
If your association is one of the 45% only using your educational materials at the conference, make this the year you do more with that content! The good news is you can start small and see how it works for your association. Every industry is different and what works for one group may not work for yours. Experimenting is key. So determine your goal, find out what material interests your members and put your content to work!