Networking is critical for success, and there are numerous ways to expand awareness among peers, clients and partners with unique marketing materials through Association Membership.

Membership opens the door to connection & collaboration

Membership opens the door to connection & collaboration

You join a Trade Group, Industry or Business Association for the tangible benefits it can provide. Features such as certifications, educational programs, industry trends, lobbying, group rates and discounts are some of the great member benefits.

However, the intangible benefit of being connected with so many people who share your interests opens the door for great promotional opportunity. Consider all of the trade shows, seminars, and social functions available to you as a member. Here are some unique marketing ideas to stand out in your new crowd.

Focus On Opportunities

Rather than looking at other members as competitors, consider looking to them as potential partners. What are your business goals? You may want to attract top employees, partner on projects with related businesses or people, or sell your products or services. Once you decide on your focus, brainstorm some cool marketing ideas to build awareness for your brand and to achieve your objective.

The marketing venues available to you are the activities and media offered to members. Trade shows, educational events, seminars, newsletters, workshops and social gatherings are great activities to either sponsor and/or distribute unique promotional items to build your brand identity.

Be Interested and Involved

According to Dale Carnegie in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” imagesSponsoring a member event builds awareness, but it’s how you position yourself as a sponsor that makes all the difference in how you are perceived. Sponsorship is not about your ego, it’s about building trust and rapport and being seen as supportive. If you distribute coupons, discounts or unique promotional products, make your offering of great value for the specific audience in attendance. Something they can use in their profession to empower them to do their job better is a great promotional gift idea. If it relates to your specific industry niche it will extend your awareness many times over.

Practical Ideas To Promote by Association

Trade Shows – Many associations create a trade show venue for members, sponsors and vendors to exhibit. Come up with unique trade show giveaways to make you unforgettable. Recently I attended a trade show where a printing company was taking pictures of attendees in their uniquely designed booth, then printing out a beautiful wall calendar with the attendees picture on it. They did a great job and I now have an interesting wall calendar featuring ‘me’ along with their business information. The marketing gift idea is also a conversation starter and many have left my office aware of the trade show presenter from my wall hanging.

Educational Seminars – I participated in a LEED certification program at a local Builders Association where I also learned about the program sponsor’s services and mechanical devices as part of the educational videos. Since the ‘green movement’ was an evolving industry the field was wide open for professional builders, and other industry participants, to learn about the latest and greatest devices to provide energy savings. The handbook provided after the classes had the sponsor’s information and discount offers for their service. The handbook as a promotional items idea worked well as it served as an handy reference guide to stay compliant with industry standards.

Media Opportunities Abound – Associates and Trade Groups are all about communicating, collaborating and coordinating. To do this they produce email announcements, newsletters, flyers, magazines and many different ways to connect with their base. For a relatively low price you can build awareness among a highly targeted audience. Consider developing an integrated promotional plan that promotes your Association related activities using multiple media announcements, articles and other communication channels to increase reach and frequency. Use a sales promotion technique to create immediate attention and motivate a response or action.

Social Events – Attending a conference or a holiday party is always a good way to connect in a non-competitive environment. Donating your product as a auction item or a door prize extends your welcome, even more. The objective is to remain unforgettable. Serve on the committee for the event and follow through with press releases to your communities about your service and how it ties into your personal or companies’ mission. Once you establish true friendships, take the opportunity to keep in touch with business communications and personal interactions.

On a basic level, a holiday or a birthday card is a nice way to keep it personal while establishing a reliable network of trusted partners.  As a twist on an old idea, chose a non-traditional holiday and make it your own. A Marine Supply company began celebrating September 19th, which happens to be Talk Like a Pirate Day (you didn’t know that),  with in-store silliness and discounts. Over time the event grew as they became known among their peers and customers as the owner of the seafarers holiday. The opportunity led to database expansion, advertising messages that set them apart, and a reason to celebrate their customers.

The objective is to collaborate with the Association or Trade Group to create awareness and motivate people to take an action that benefits all partners. Networking and focusing on unique marketing materials and opportunities shows that you are truly interested in your mutual business partner’s success.

Now get out there, join in, and make friends and influence people!

Kevin Danaher

Kevin’s career spans over 30 years where he worked for New York Sales Promotion and Advertising agencies such as Ventura Associates, and BBDO developing promotional campaigns for some of the world’s leading brands including VISA, General Electric, Kraft/General Foods, Fidelity Investments, and Chrysler. Read More