6 Insights From INBOUND 2016 To Help With Your Association Marketing

My first and (hopefully not last) INBOUND is finally in the books. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Hubspot’s annual marketing conference. I was so excited to learn from the industry’s thought leaders and to chat with other marketing people, all while trying not to fangirl about being in the same room as Anna Kendrick (who was one of the keynote speakers). Now that I’ve had some time to let everything soak in, here are 6 takeaways that you can apply to your association marketing!

1. “The stuff that’s scary is the things you didn’t do.” Association marketing

Marketing guru and founder of Vayner Media, Gary Vaynerchuk was the opening keynote at INBOUND 2016. Much of the advice he dispensed can be applicable to any industry you work in, and it can also be applicable to life in general. If you ask me, that’s usually the best type of advice! While I haven’t been working very long in the AMS software market, my impression is that organizations are sometimes hesistant to take risks and tend to stick with what they know and what is familiar. Change is a scary and uncomfortable thing, and often times, people are more inclined to resist the unknown. It’s easier to do what is comfortable. This remark resonated with me because associations have to keep coming up with ways to attract new members, but also finding ways to keep their current membership actively engaged. So how do you that? Well, certainly not by doing the same thing repetitively. You won’t know how your membership will respond unless you experiment with your marketing mix. Association staff need to feel empowered to try new things so that they can continue to better engage with their membership. 

2. “Not knowing a platform is a pitiful excuse not to use it.”

Another true remark made by Gary Vaynerchuk. For all you know, there might be an audience out there that would love to hear more about your association and its mission. Actually, there IS someone out there. We are living in a wonderful era where we can find out just about anything we want with the technology at our fingertips. Don’t feel intimidated by a platform simply because you’re not familiar with it. If you want to learn how to use it, look it up on Google or on YouTube or set up a training session. Learn how to use it, find a way to incorporate it into your association marketing strategy, and see what happens. You won’t know unless you try! We are only truly limited by what we think we can do. 

3. Live in social.

Brian Halligan, co-founder of Hubspot, gave a keynote where he encouraged everyone to live in social media. “If you’re not doing it, then you might as well be marketing out of a trashcan.” His words, not mine. We’ve come a long way since the early days of Facebook and Twitter. If you want to reach new members, then you have to step up your social media game. There are so many ways you can amplify your content on different platforms. You have to know your audience and experiment. Make sure your marketing strategy includes both content marketing supplemented with paid advertising. That way your content will reach more audiences.  

4.Video will be the rising star in 2017.

Hubspot co-founder Dharmesh Shah predicts that video will be a big thing in the upcoming year. Many of the speakers whose sessions I attended alluded to this same statement. With Facebook live continuing to gain momentum and other platforms using video as a way to share their brand story, engage with new audiences, and drive traffic, it’s important to get your team on board. Make it a point to allocate resources and money into video and start incorporating it into your association’s marketing mix. 

5. Upcycle your content.

Salma Jafri, host of Content Marketing Tips, spoke about repurposing your content for your audience as a way of adding value and bringing that content into circulation again. You might be thinking this sounds like a lot of work. Well, of course it is! However, if you think about it, upcycling your content will give it longevity. Salma Jafri offered 5 reasons as to why you should always upcycle your content. 

  1. It allows you to focus on creating your best content.
  2. It’s great for SEO.
  3. It gives you extended reach.
  4. It’s perfect for extended visibility without being annoying.
  5. It respects your audience’s learning style.

The last reason really resonated with me because every person consumes their content differently. Personally, I love looking at visuals and watching short videos. However, others might prefer their content in the form of podcasts or audio. It’s important to offer your content in a variety of ways on different platforms so you’re reaching all your audiences. And who knows, maybe your content will resonate with a completely new audience. Salma Jafri also emphasized the importance of upcycling in the content creation stage not during the distribution or promotion stage.When you’re creating your content calendar, be sure to consider how you can diversify it.

6. We all have a superpower. photo-1434030216411-0b793f4b4173 (1).jpg

Say what? No, I’m not talking about the ability to fly or to become invisible (although those would be cool too). Actually, I’m referring to the superpower that is storytelling. As speaker Amina Moreau shared, “Human beings are hardwired to create mental patterns.” And she’s right. If you think about all the patterns we fall into, you’ll realize how many of our day-to-day actions aren’t deliberate. In order to compell people to act, Amina Moreau emphasized the importance of “designing an emotional experience that connects people to things you care about.” The reality is we’re not always motivated by rational arguments, but rather what we feel. 

Before you craft your story, you need to figure out who your characters are. In order to do this, you need to make sure you understand your members. One (or more) of those members will be the character who will resonate with your prospects.Then you need to identify what makes this member(s) stand out. Amina Moreau mentioned 3 attributes that make a great main character.

  1. Desire
  2. Complexity
  3. Uniqueness

When telling your association’s story, it’s important to be authentic and vulnerable. Authenticity is what builds trust and that is what will truly appeal to your members.

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