Bruce Rosenthal

Recent Posts

The 4 Keys to Maximizing Your Sponsorship Expenditures

Posted by Bruce Rosenthal

Feb 11, 2019 9:58:00 AM

Companies invest a lot of money in sponsoring membership associations. And for good reason: These associations can be ideal markets for companies, and companies that align with associations as sponsors can increase the likelihood of achieving their business goals with the association’s members. The power of affinity is significant.

Seems like an ideal situation. What can go wrong? Confidential interviews with sponsors of several leading associations are revealing:

· “Often we didn’t utilize the sponsorship benefits.”

· “As much as we would like to be a sounding board in the blogs or publicity at events as a sponsor, we did not always have the time to allot.”

· “We didn’t ask enough of the association. I could have asked more.”

  • “Our company’s challenge was keystaking advantage of what was available to us as a sponsor.”

For most companies, sponsorships are a marketing expense, not a philanthropic expense. If sponsorship was a philanthropic expense, companies would sponsor because it was the right thing to do, it was supporting a good cause, and the company executives want to feel good about their contribution.

Marketing expenditures, on the other hand, require a much more rigorous justification. Based on the way your company justifies its marketing expenditures, here are four ways to maximize the value of your sponsorships:

1. Understand your company’s sponsorship value proposition. Based on the association’s membership; communications to members; opportunities to engage with association leaders and other sponsors; etc., determine why your company wants to be a sponsor and what your company expects to gain as a sponsor. Be specific, including metrics if possible.

2. Negotiate with associations. Whether associations offer a standard list of benefits or a customized program, your company is in a position to negotiate. Based on your sponsorship value proposition described above, suggest to the association benefits that will help you fulfill your goals (while adhering to the association’s mission).

3. Appoint a liaison. Identify someone on your internal or outside marketing team to be accountable for implementing the sponsorship program for your company. This person should be knowledgeable about your company’s sponsorship value proposition and the association your company is sponsoring.

4. Implement the sponsorship. To have a successful sponsorship, work with the association’s staff to develop a plan with action items and deadlines. Then devote the time and resources (human and otherwise) necessary to implement the plan.

Some companies view sponsorships passively. Sponsorship jargon for implementing sponsorship benefits is activate. Companies should activate sponsorships with the same methodological approach they would use to implement a marketing campaign or advertising campaign.

If you would like more information about how your company can maximize your association sponsorship expenditures, contact Quantum Age.

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Why and How You Should Align Your Company with Associations

Posted by Bruce Rosenthal

Sep 27, 2018 12:25:49 PM

 

An effective way for a company to get its marketing messages to its target industry or profession is to become a corporate sponsor or partner of the trade or professional association or associations that represents those companies or individuals.

 

Sponsoring or partnering with an association has four key advantages:

 

1. The power of affinity: While sponsoring or partnering is not an endorsement by the association, there are advantages of being identified to the membership as a “sponsor” or “partner.”

 

2. Brand exposure/differentiation: Most associations have many dozens or hundreds of business firm members. By being one of a very small number of corporate sponsors or partners, companies will be more distinctive and will stand out in a crowd.

· Promotes a positive brand awareness, strengthens a brand and distinguishes the brand from competitors’ brands

· Enhances credibility and reputation by being affiliated with the association

resources-blog

· Fulfills the company’s philanthropic goals

· Fulfills the company’s social responsibility goals

· Improves consumer confidence

 

3. Thought leadership/business intelligence: Many companies affiliated with an association have information that is of value to members. Some associations allow only corporate sponsors and partners to disseminate this type of content to their members.

· Positions the company as a knowledge leader

· Identifies opportunities to educate members

· Identifies opportunities to provide strategic guidance to the association

· Provides access to data about the association’s industry/field

· Provides access to data about the association’s members

· Provides access to information on the needs of members so the company can provide targeted content

 

4. Business development/growth: The three advantages above all contribute to business development opportunities for corporate sponsors and partners.

· Provides access to a targeted group of key clients and prospects

· Creates potential for a more enhanced customer experience

· Affords a way to reinforce advertising with the association

· Generates stronger leads

· Increases the likelihood of referrals and recommendations as a result of having an “inside track” with the association, its board and its staff

 

There are many ways in which companies can collaborate with associations as corporate sponsors or partners to achieve the goals of the company and the association.

 

Content and Information

· Guidance for association members in the form of white papers, case studies, how-to guides, research, interpretations of regulations, etc.

· Thought leadership to inform the association and its board of directors regarding strategic planning for the association

· Information and data that can support the association’s public policy

· Data from the company about members and non-members in the industry/field/profession

· Information about trends in the association’s industry/field/profession

 

The Power of Affinity

· Support for the association’s vision and mission

· Opportunities for the association to influence corporate partners on issues affecting embers, public policy issues, etc.

· Corporate partner participation in disseminating the association’s messages to various audiences

Access

· Provides the association’s staff access to senior-level executives in sponsor and partner companies whom they might not otherwise meet

· Provides the association’s members access to senior-level executives in sponsor and partner companies whom they might not otherwise meet

 

Membership/Corporate Partner Prospecting

· Opportunities for membership recruitment of prospective members who are the company’s clients

· Introductions by the sponsor or partner company to other companies that might be interested in affiliating with the association

Corporate sponsorship or partnership of an association can be an important part of a company’s communications and marketing strategy. Sponsorship and partnership offers advantages unavailable to companies that aren’t aligned with associations in this way.

Quantum Age has extensive experience working with healthcare and aging services associations. To learn how to identify associations that would be a good match, negotiate corporate sponsorship and partnership agreements and effectively manage partnerships and sponsorships, contact us.

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Adopting New Media Without Abandoning Traditional Media Relations

Posted by Bruce Rosenthal

Jul 27, 2018 11:23:00 AM

Embracing new media formats and communications platforms is smart, but abandoning traditional media relations altogether can carry big risks.

The Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein explored the shifting corporate views on media relations and reporters. When he and other business reporters contact companies to write profiles about the company or the company’s industry, they are often rebuffed, Pearlstein notes in the column, “’No comment’: The Death of Business Reporting”. Sometimes the corporate communications director simply responds that the company’s executives are too busy to be interviewed for the article.

“Such is the sorry state of corporate media relations these days,” Pearlstein writes. “Even the prospect of a positive story can’t crack open the door to the executive suite.”

There are two reasons for this new approach by corporate communications departments, suggests Alan Murray, head of Fortune magazine, in the Post article: “One, they don’t trust us. And, two, they don’t need us.”

The reference to “trust” is a reflection of what is happening in politics and the media. The reference to “need” relates to the increasing reliance on “owned media” – such as websites, Internet search engines and social media – instead of “earned media.” Pearlstein cites a Corporate Executive Board study that reported corporate communications officers no longer report to the chief executive; they report to the head of marketing or the chief financial officer—a telltale shift.

Even public relations agency guru Richard Edelman promotes the need for corporations to “set up corporate news operations to communicate directly to employees, customers, investors and the public,” Pearlstein notes.

Traditional-Media-vs-New-Media-Which-is-Beneficial

Savvy companies employ several strategies to leverage today’s media forms without losing the value of traditional media relations.

· Adapt to the many and varied types of new media to convey corporate messages to internal audiences like employees and investors, customer audiences and consumer audiences. Websites, social media and search engine optimization (SEO) all have a role in a company’s “toolbox” of communications strategies.

· Focus on messaging and content—they’re still paramount. Not too many years ago, companies could adequately convey their messages with a press release or a media interview. However, the whole media world has changed. Effective communications now necessitates a strategy that focuses on website postings, Tweets, Facebook postings and LinkedIn articles. But it’s not that easy: the same message that was disseminated a few years ago in a two-page press release cannot be as easily conveyed in a 280-character Tweet or a two-paragraph Facebook post.

· Don’t ditch traditional media relations. Pearlstein talked with some corporate executives wh

 o said they fear negative stories, so they believe it is too risky to engage with reporters. One executive told Pearlstein “What [company executives] don’t realize is that by not responding, by not engaging, that is communicating a message that [the media is] not worth their time. And when the time comes that they need the media to explain something important and complex, they will have no credibility.”

As an agency focused on healthcare and aging services, Quantum Age is uniquely positioned to help companies adapt to many types of media, develop quality messaging and content and create a media relations strategy. Please contact Quantum Age for more information.

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Topics: media

How to be a Better Corporate Partner to Associations

Posted by Bruce Rosenthal

Jul 6, 2018 12:01:36 PM

A 2018 report from New Philanthropy Capital in London, England includes findings that can lead to better partnerships between post-acute companies and industry associations. Although the report is based on company partnerships with charities, the same concepts apply to relationships with associations.

 

According to the report, research finds that “more and more charities and corporations want to move away from a transactional relationship that often does not add much to one that is based on impact.” Developing relationships that are mutually beneficial is key, the report notes.

 

The report identifies two key challenges:

  • Partnerships often are imbalanced. Corporations and organizations “are both looking to get something out of their partnerships.” But it can seem like corporations hold all the cards because they are providing the funding. The organizations may hesitate to speak up “for fear of jeopardizing the relationship and the funding.”
  • Partnered parties often lack a clear understanding of what their relationship can provide. Organizations tapped in the report say they need to “work harder to understand corporations and what they offer. Without this understanding there cannot be a level playing field for developing partnership ideas.”

 

Based on these two challenges, the report states the obvious: “More open and honest conversations are clearly needed.”

smiling-business-people-shaking-hands-smiling-colleague-beh-them-background-31098953

 

For associations and their corporate partners to avoid being at loggerheads, the report asserts “developing a more equal partnership that recognizes each other’s strengths should allow the partnership to have more impact.”

 

The report included a three-point wish list that serves as a helpful guide for discussions between companies and associations:

  • Associations must be “candid and clear about what they can and cannot offer.”
  • Corporations must ensure that they fully understand the association and its needs, “rather than relying on myths or assumptions.”
  • Both potential partners must “invest time to understand what the other has to offer, gaining a better understanding of how they can help each other.”

 

The end result, the report asserts, is to improve partnerships between corporations and organizations “to make partnerships less about PR or having a ‘warm glow’ and more about making an impact.”

 

In the report’s conclusion, the authors say they hope the report will “inspire others to think about how they could improve their partnerships. This requires having the creativity to think of new ways of working and the courage to change and improve relationships.”

 

Corporations and the associations they partner with have much to gain by taking advantage of what each can bring to the table. For information and ideas on how your company can improve its relationship with associations, please contact Quantum Age.

 

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The 4 Keys to Maximizing Your Sponsorship Expenditures

Posted by Bruce Rosenthal

Apr 3, 2018 5:59:00 PM

Companies invest a lot of money in sponsoring membership associations. And for good reason: These associations can be ideal markets for companies, and companies that align with associations as sponsors can increase the likelihood of achieving their business goals with the association’s members. The power of affinity is significant.

 

Seems like an ideal situation. What can go wrong? Confidential interviews with sponsors of several leading associations are revealing:

· “Often we didn’t utilize the sponsorship benefits.”

· “As much as we would like to be a sounding board in the blogs or publicity at events as a sponsor, we did not always have the time to allot.”

· “We didn’t ask enough of the association. I could have asked more.”

  • “Our company’s challenge was taking advantage of what was available to us as a sponsor.”

 

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For most companies, sponsorships are a marketing expense, not a philanthropic expense. If sponsorship was a philanthropic expense, companies would sponsor because it was the right thing to do, it was supporting a good cause, and the company executives want to feel good about their contribution.

 

Marketing expenditures, on the other hand, require a much more rigorous justification. Based on the way your company justifies its marketing expenditures, here are four ways to maximize the value of your sponsorships. 

1. Understand your company’s sponsorship value proposition. Based on the association’s membership; communications to members; opportunities to engage with association leaders and other sponsors; etc., determine why your company wants to be a sponsor and what your company expects to gain as a sponsor. Be specific, including metrics if possible.f your sponsorships:

2. Negotiate with associations. Whether associations offer a standard list of benefits or a customized program, your company is in a position to negotiate. Based on your sponsorship value proposition described above, suggest to the association benefits that will help you fulfill your goals (while adhering to the association’s mission).

3. Appoint a liaison. Identify someone on your internal or outside marketing team to be accountable for implementing the sponsorship program for your company. This person should be knowledgeable about your company’s sponsorship value proposition and the association your company is sponsoring.

 4. Implement the sponsorship. To have a successful sponsorship, work with the association’s staff to develop a plan with action items and deadlines. Then devote the time and resources (human and otherwise) necessary to implement the plan.

 

Some companies view sponsorships passively. Sponsorship jargon for implementing sponsorship benefits is activate. Companies should activate sponsorships with the same methodological approach they would use to implement a marketing campaign or advertising campaign.

 

If you would like more information about how your company can maximize your association sponsorship expenditures, contact Quantum Age.

 

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Topics: Associations,

5 Ways to Obtain Brand Differentiation with Membership and Trade Associations

Posted by Bruce Rosenthal

Jan 11, 2018 10:42:00 AM

In two recent blog posts , 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 posts addressed how companies can be positioned as knowledge leaders and how companies can obtain business development opportunities with associations.

How does a company—especially a company that is a corporate sponsor or partner with an association—achieve brand differentiation?

The first step is to identify the brand identify or differentiation you’d like to achieve. What might the association’s members misunderstand or misperceive about your company? What would you like the association’s members to know and say about your company?

Second, how do you differentiate your company from your competition? What is your company’s “edge”?

Third, identify your company’s biggest challenges in getting the message about your company’s brand identity to members of the association.

difference.jpg

Approach your contact on the staff of each association your company supports and ask about opportunities to assert brand differentiation:

1. Establish your company’s brand on the association’s

website and other digital media. Ask if the association will create a presence for your company to recognize your expertise and products/services for members. Consider including a video about the solutions your company offers to members.

2. Gain brand visibility among attendees at the association’s conferences. Ask if there are any special activities, events, or features at the conference that your company can brand or co-brand with the association. Are there are opportunities to introduce a general session speaker or moderate education sessions? Perhaps your company can sponsor the conference app, charging stations, entertainment, coffee break, fitness/wellness activity, name badge lanyards, shuttle buses, or wi-fi service. It will be beneficial if you can customize the opportunity—for example providing coffee cup sleeves including your company’s logo at the coffee break. Or connect the opportunity to your company’s services, such as a healthcare company sponsoring the fitness/wellness activity.

3. Seek ongoing brand visibility among the association’s members. Ask if any naming rights are available, for example, a conference room in the association’s office, an annual award might include your brand’s name, or a new initiative might be available for cobranding.

4. Dominate in established resources. If the association has a business directory, ask about enhanced listing or preferred online search result placement to focus more attention on your company.

5. Gain visibility through recognition. Identify award programs that might be a fit for the nomination of your company. Ask the association to nominate you, or perhaps your company and the association can submit an award nomination together for a joint project.

Remember, brand building starts at home: Consider what your company can do with its existing resources to gain recognition for your support of an association. For example, include information about your support of and collaboration with the association on your company website and in your communications with your customers or clients. If there is an approved seal, incorporate it into your materials. If you have a showroom or meeting room that is frequented by customers or clients, post a sign noting your proud support of the association. Ensure that customers and prospects affiliated with an association are aware of your support. It can be an influencer when it comes time to select you over your competition.

If you would like more information on how your company can position itself to achieve your brand differentiation goals with associations and their members, please contact Quantum Age today.

To learn more about the benefits of partnering with associations, read:[6 Ways to Achieve your Business Development Goals with Membership and Trade Associations]

#1 Knowledge Leader

#2 Business Development

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Topics: Associations,, Branding, Business

6 Ways to Achieve your Business Development Goals with Membership and Trade Associations

Posted by Bruce Rosenthal

Dec 29, 2017 10:34:00 AM

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.

Working Hard-1.jpg

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:

[Why and How to Position Your Company as a Knowledge Leader through Associations]

#1 Knowledge Leader

#3 Brand Differentiation

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Topics: Associations,, Branding, Business

Why and How to Position Your Company as a Knowledge Leader through Associations

Posted by Bruce Rosenthal

Dec 19, 2017 10:18:00 AM

Several years ago, a large trade association hired a consultant to interview each of the association’s corporate sponsors to determine their level of satisfaction in their engagement with the organization. Some of the results were quite revealing.

 The consultant reported that all of the association’s corporate sponsors were in almost complete agreement on the three value propositions they expected from the association. All of the companies desired business development opportunities and brand differentiation as a top-level sponsor. No big surprise.

 BLOCKS (1).jpgThe next big reason these companies sponsored the association was knowledge leadership. They wanted to be positioned as problem solvers and idea generators in addition to selling products and services. They wanted to help members face challenges and improve operations.

How does a company position itself as a knowledge leader with associations that represent the company’s customers and prospective customers?

The first step is to sincerely position yourself as a knowledge leader. If you “wave the knowledge leader banner” while hawking your product or service, you probably won’t succeed. The association’s staff and members can smell sales pitches a mile away.

Positioning your company as a knowledge leader may ultimately lead to sales, however, if your primary goal is selling, you won’t be viewed as a knowledge leader.

Next, you’ll want to find out what kinds of knowledge the association and its members need. Ask your contact at each association you’re engaged with if they or someone else on staff can talk with you about key issues facing members. The “what keeps members up at night?” issues. The latest regulatory issues? Shifts in payment models? Changing demographics and consumer expectations?

Ask the association’s staff person if the organization has conducted surveys of members and/or conference attendees that reveal members’ “pain points.” Are staff in the Member Services or Education Departments aware of challenges facing members?

Armed with this information about what the members need at each association, identify alignment with your company’s expertise.

Here are five ways to position your company as a knowledge leader:

1. Write a white paper or case study. Ask the associations if they will distribute it to their members; you can also distribute it to your customers and prospective customers.

2. Develop content for a webinar. Ask the associations if they will contribute content and/or co-present the webinar with you for their members; you can also present the webinar to your customers and prospective customers.

3. Ask the associations if they have a gap in the educational programming for their conference; maybe your company has an expert on the topic who could be on the faculty or a panel discussion. If the education program is based on proposals, ask association staff if they would provide you with guidance on developing a strong proposal.

4. Ask the associations if they have state affiliates that would be interested in your white paper, webinar, and education session.

  • Find out if the associations have committees, task forces, or councils that are in need of expertise available from your company. You could offer to serve on the group or make a presentation to them.

The three reasons companies support associations are closely related. Companies that are effective knowledge leaders become trusted resources for members. As a result, these companies achieve brand differentiation compared to their competitors. And the outcome is these companies are more likely to gain new business.

It’s a win-win-win. Your company is better positioned in the marketplace. Members of the associations receive much-needed information. The associations gain added value for their members and the companies that support their members.

If you would like more information on how your company can position itself as a knowledge leader with trade and professional associations and their members, contact Quantum Age today.

To learn more about the benefits of association affiliations, read:

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#2 Business Development

#3 Brand Differentiation

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Topics: Associations,, Branding, Business

What You Need To Know About Corporate Partnerships With Trade Associations

Posted by Bruce Rosenthal

Sep 6, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Companies that sell products and services to businesses in a certain industry and that industry’s trade association sometimes have a “mutual love/hate” relationship. Or they view each other as “a necessary evil.”
The companies believe the trade associations are unfairly restricting access to their Bruce_association blog.pngmembers who are the company’s customers and prospective customers. Companies contend they are entitled to a certain level of access to an association’s members, especially if the companies are exhibitors or corporate sponsors or partners.


The associations believe the companies only want to do a “hard sell” on their members. Associations contend that since they are not-for-profit organizations, communications from companies is a commercial intrusion.

The result of this company-association butting of heads does little to help the company or the association. More importantly, it does little to help the association’s members.

A survey conducted in August 2017 by the DC-Area Partnership Professionals Network (PPN), an organization of corporate sponsorship and partnership executives with associations and not-for-profit organizations, revealed some findings that might provide companies with ideas on how to bridge the gap and have more successful relationships with associations.

  • Associations obviously need money to fulfill their missions to provide services to members. Two-thirds of the respondents to the PPN survey reported their revenue from corporate partners had increased in the past year (though the survey didn’t ask how much it increased). What is more revealing is that one-third reported their revenue from corporate partners had decreased or stayed the same.
  • It’s important for associations’ programs to meet the current needs of their stakeholders. Member needs change, business trends change, etc. When asked if they had undertaken a review of their corporate partner program in the past three years, half of the association executives responding to the survey said “no”.
  • Boards of directors play a critical role for associations. They set policy; they are a barometer of member needs; they are a gateway to members. While survey respondents report their boards were aware of revenue from corporate partners, only one-quarter of boards meet with corporate partners and one-quarter are not involved in any way with corporate partners.
  • Companies that partner with associations have specific business goals. These goals can be repositioning their company, launching a new product, meeting the challenges of competitor companies, etc. While almost 100% of the associations responding to the survey offer transactional benefits like logo visibility, the percentage of association offering more substantive benefits like speaking opportunities and content development drops to about 50%.
  • Lastly, most of the organizations surveyed acknowledged they are competing for their corporate partners’ attention with other associations and other marketing channels.

To recap: associations need the revenue from corporate partners; many associations haven’t revamped their corporate partnership programs recently; many boards are not involved in corporate partnership programs; associations are offering predominantly low-value transactional benefits; and associations realize they are competing for corporate partners.

What can you do with this knowledge from the Partnership Professionals Network survey? Have a conversation with each association that represents businesses who are your customers and prospective customers.

Explain that your company and their association each have a mission and goals. Ironically, there is a common thread in these missions and goals: to meet the needs of the businesses who are your customers and their members.

Identify ideas, solutions, and strategies that your company can offer to help the association’s members. Discuss ways the association can make changes to its current corporate partnership program to get their board members more engaged and offer benefits that will help your company help their members.

Strive for the triple-win: value for the association, its members, and your company.

If you would like more information on how your company can achieve its business goals by partnering with trade associations, contact Quantum Age today.

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Topics: marketing, , marketing strategy, , corporate partnerships

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