In a recent blog post, I reported the results of a study by a large trade association of its corporate partners. Interviews with corporate partners revealed that the companies expected three value propositions from the association: positioning as a knowledge leader; business development opportunities, and brand differentiation. The previous blog post addressed how companies can be positioned as knowledge leaders with associations.
How does a company—especially a company that is a corporate sponsor or partner with an association—obtain business development opportunities?
The first step is to identify your business development goals related to members of the association. What are your sales goals? What is your return on investment goal?
Second, identify your company’s biggest challenges, barriers, and obstacles when it comes to marketing to the association’s members.
Third, identify the business development strategies that have proven most effective for your company. For example, is your sales team most successful with trade shows, advertising, direct marketing, webinars, content marketing, events, social media, etc.?
Armed with this information, it’s time to approach your contact on the staff of each association your company supports. Ask about opportunities that could result in business development for your company, with the following six tactics in mind. Note: Although the desired end result is new business, be sure that the content you provide for the first three strategies below should be educational in nature, not sales pitches.
1. Reach a targeted group of members. For example, you may determine that members with a certain title; in a particular business sector; or with a particular area of interest (technology or quality improvement perhaps) are your best prospects. Explore doing a presentation on a topic of interest for this group at one of their face-to-face meetings or perhaps via webinar (or both).
2. The association might have listservs of members that are part of a particular group or share an interest in a topic. Provide the listserv’s members with a white paper or other information on a topic that would appeal to the group.
3. If you are interested in reaching members in a particular metropolitan area, the association might work with your company to convene some of these members for a seminar or forum in their city.
4. Identify association members that are—and are not—your customers. Ask the association if they can cross-match their membership list with your client list to identify prospective new customers.
5. Arrange to have a private conversation with a prospective client at a large conference. Big conference hotels and convention centers are often not conducive to small, private meetings. Ask the association if they can provide you with access to a meeting room in a convenient location.
6. Consider doing business with the association’s other corporate partners. Perhaps you offer a product or service that other corporate partners would want to purchase for their company or their employees. Or maybe you could engage in a joint marketing venture with one of the association’s other corporate partners. Ask the association if they would introduce you to particular partners or arrange for a meeting of all the association’s corporate partners.
By working with your association partners in a strategic and methodical way, you should notice a solid uptick in business development opportunities attributable to the relationship.
If you would like more information on how your company can position itself to achieve your business develop goals with associations and their members, please contact Quantum Age today.
To learn more about the benefits of association affiliations, read:
#1 Knowledge Leader
#3 Brand Differentiation