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

Topics: Associations,, Branding, Business