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.

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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]

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#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

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