Step 1: Personalise…

You have been choosing the right settings to target your ads to your chosen audience, you have been buying the right keywords to reach the right people when doing a search and you have been listening to your customers’ feedback on social media. So how does that all apply to your interactions on LinkedIn?

Cork, Ireland

Well, LinkedIn advertising will get people to your page or website to learn more about your company, but personalization will remain the key to your success with individuals. Indeed, although it might seem old school, LinkedIn is based on the power of one’s network and the relationships that you, as a member, can build and maintain. After all, people still buy from people! In order to understand how to better tailor your approach via a connection request, a message or an InMail, let’s take a look at the meaning behind the word:

 

Personalize

Person – nalize

Person – analyze

 

Priority #1: Person

Your priority should always be the person you wish to address. On LinkedIn, it could be a connection, a prospect, a longtime customer, a potential new provider, etc. Every opportunity is a good one to connect. In order to stand out, you need to personalize your approach based on what you know about the person in front of you (virtually) online. Make it about them! Take an interest in who they are: look at their profile, their social media activity, recent posts or articles that they shared, and see what you have in common, or how you might be able to help each other. Remember that the main focus of any communication should be your customer or potential new customer and what they are interested in or how your product or service can help them improve their business, their lifestyle, their way of working or doing something in particular. Think of questions that are relevant to them.

The idea is that you want to get them talking. You want to give them a reason to answer your message, pick up the phone when you call or engage in conversation when they meet with you, and that reason is that you took an interest in what they do.

To do so, keep this in mind when writing to them on LinkedIn:

  • The first few sentences of a message should be about your prospect: What did you find interesting in their profile? What recent article that they shared made you want to write to them? What makes them so interesting?
  • Next, you should be letting them know who you are and how you could be of value to them. Keep this short!
  • Tell them in a sentence or two, why are you reaching out to them, give your message a purpose.
  • Finally, give them a call to action, ask them a question or give them a possible time to talk and discuss. Most people will answer when asked a question.

 

Priority #2: Analyze

Now, in the word personalize, you see the basis of the word analyze. The idea is that once you get them talking, you need to listen to what they have to say. Ask questions, either in written form, or verbally if you are on the phone with them, and take an interest. The more that someone reveals to you, the better you will be able to personalize your offer to their needs. You may have only one product, or you may have an array of products, but you still need to provide a solution to a problem that your customer is experiencing. And this information does not tend to be offered up easily as it might show a sign of weakness or an opportunity for their competition. Hence, your objective is to build a relationship with your customer and inspire trust.

Be patient. You might need more than one conversation to be in a position to make an offer, you will also need to analyze their behavior to determine their willingness to move forward with you towards a purchase or an investment. This is where the relationship part kicks in. LinkedIn will help you find the right contacts and connect with them, but you will need to build the professional relationship and maintain it until your prospect is ready to buy. Keep in touch online by connecting with them, sharing content and staying top of mind until it is the right time for them to call you back!

 

Finally, make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, pleasing and well branded for your prospects. Indeed, a prospect’s first action is typically to look you up online. We will discuss the LinkedIn profile further in upcoming posts, but in the meantime, if you need any help getting started, just reach out to your PROSAR Strategist today!

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How Consistency Improves Your Branding – 5 ways to help your brand reach its potential

The purpose of branding is to go beyond simply creating awareness, with the intention of nurturing a trusting and loyal relationship. It’s a comprehensive undertaking that requires consistent use of your branded identity, in all of its forms. It’s no easy task to maintain consistency among myriad print, digital and broadcast touchpoints: letterhead, business cards, ads, billboards, brochures, website, blogs, social media accounts, emails, ebooks, posts, videos, TV, radio… Reputation manifests in everything that represents your organization, including the experience of dealing with your organization.

In our ever-changing digital world and increasing communication channels, consistency is an increasingly critical aspect in successfully establishing a trusted and sought-after product, service or organization. This article focuses on the role that consistency plays in successful branding. Here are five important considerations that relate to your brand consistency, and your ability to build a strong brand.

 

  1. Start from the Heart

It all stems from your mission, vision, value statement unique selling proposition, any guiding principles for your organization. Ensure that they are authentic and aligned. A thorough understanding of what drives your organization and what it has to offer is the starting point. Your brand is the essence of what your market thinks of your organization; so consider what it is destined achieve, and what its brand should represent.

A full appreciation of your target market, their expectations and desires is also key. In order to be successful, you’ll need a receptive market; resonating with your audience paves the way to acceptance. Essentially, your brand should relate directly and explicitly to the belief system of your organization and that of your market.

  1. Set the Foundation

Even small companies can find it difficult to ensure that everyone treats branding aspects in a consistent manner. Add to the mix associates, freelancers, consultants, suppliers, advertisers, etc. and the task of maintaining a common front becomes rather formidable. Create a Branding Style Guide (this is often done when a new Corporate ID is created).

A branding style guide doesn’t need to be a monumental tome with excessive rules and regulations, but should cover all typical print, digital and broadcast uses. It should also be reviewed and updated periodically (at least every 3 years) to ensure it is relevant to the media and technology you and your industry are using.

It identifies all items used in presenting your organization and sets guidelines for their use. Graphic and presentation components typically include logos, icons, colours, fonts, specific photos and illustrations, etc. People have a strong and lasting connection with graphics and colours, which explains the importance placed on logos and their use.

Content components incorporate tagline, slogan, lexicon, tone, etc. What you say and how you say it can provoke tremendous impact and evoke strong emotion. In order for your audience to learn to trust your organization, they need to identify with what you have to say. The vocabulary used and tone of corporate content can help to position your organization as genuine, knowledgeable, caring, expert, as a go-to source that can be relied upon. Note that having a consistent corporate tone doesn’t mean that all your content needs to sound the same. Individual voices and characters within your organization add depth and can help to attract targeted segments or personas.

  1. Plan the Journey

Knowing where you came from and where you want to go makes it more likely that you’ll actually get there. To keep you, and the rest of your team, on track, plan how content and graphic identifiers will be used to build and support your brand. How will it get in front of your target market? What format will it take? When? Use an Editorial Calendar to ensure strategic, relevant and scheduled content.

Content generation provides many options (web pages, blogs, emails, social posts, ebooks, brochures, whitepapers, etc.) and is an influential means of attracting and reaching out to your audience. Consistency in template designs as well as voice/tone help build a strong foundation for your brand (keep that style guide close at hand!).

An editorial calendar maps out what content will be written, by whom, how it will be published, and when. It allows a strategic approach (ensuring consistency in both frequency and focus) and overview to ensure you are creating content that is of value to your audience as well as supporting your brand.

Chose your social media carefully, there are a lot of platforms, and just because they are cool or popular doesn’t mean it is a good fit for your organization. Also, consider the resources required to maintain an active and strategic presence.

  1. All Aboard

Having the components, a guide and a plan put you ahead of most companies. But to make it all work successfully you need buy-in from your organization. Your brand may not be a strong rallying force of motivation (it should be!), but it must be embraced by all. The entire organization needs to understand and support your branding initiatives.

In order for your team to be part of the successful implementation of your branding plan, they’ll need access to info and files. All graphic components, the branding style guide and editorial calendar should be easily accessible to anyone who will be publishing and presenting on behalf of your organization.

  1. Stay the Course

A brand strategy requires ongoing monitoring and attention. It’s part policing and part propping. You need to ensure that your team is adhering to the style guide and maintaining the image and voice to properly position your organization. You’ll also want to identify where the brand is weak and might require additional support.

Don’t be overzealous or near-sighted in your regulation. In these fluid times, acknowledge that things change and your brand strategy and implementation will need to evolve to stay current and relevant.

Do you have any thoughts on brand consistency or other considerations that could be added to this list?

Image Credit: mindscanner / gettyimages

Branding for a multilingual market

 

Being aware of your audience is one of the key aspects to successful branding. And, in today’s ever-changing market base, which has become so diverse, we can no longer expect that a one-tier cultural brand marketing approach will effectively connect throughout. In fact, without even realizing it, you may be ignoring an entire group of clients.

In 1969, leading car manufacturer Chevrolet came out with a new car, the Chevy Nova. There was one tiny problem: “no va,” in Spanish, literally translates to “it doesn’t work.” No surprise here, for many Spanish communities this came across as a joke and stopped people from considering buying it.

Obviously, it’s not just about having a cute brand name or slogan but you need to check how a more diverse population is going to react to it. This is where an inclusive approach to branding comes in. Brands have an opportunity to create meaningful connections with clients, and make clients feel welcome.

As we’ve said in one of our earlier blogs, “branding is an essential part of a marketing strategy, which is where it should all begin.” (I Have a Website, Why do I Need Branding?). If you have a business that caters to a multilingual demographic then inclusive branding should be fully considered from the start.

What can happen when your company makes additional efforts to relate to a specific community? Let’s take Starbucks as an example. Starbucks coffee shops across the country have recently started to teach their employees basic American Sign Language and some stores have even enabled drive-through webcam software so that deaf people can place an order. Using an inclusive approach with language, Starbucks’ unique branding approach has managed to successfully win over an entire community.   

Including specific audiences opens more doors

No matter what language you speak or how well established your business is, you will benefit by focusing your efforts and expanding your customer base. Fostering a multilingual inclusive approach to your branding and appealing to a new audience has great advantages.

It is critical to know your audience and to choose which area of brand marketing you want to focus on. Using language correctly attracts your market and engages them so they are ready to listen and will actually hear your message. Going further, once you have their ear use the language effectively to convey your messages in a way that they will understand. Avoid any mistakes or pitfalls that could actually cause rejection or harm your brand.

Poorly constructed brand names, slogans and badly written text slam the door on the business of some clients

So, you have a chosen a brand name that expresses the value of your organization, your client base trusts your brand and believes in what you stand for.  Pay close attention to the language you use, this will reinforce and maintain your brand positioning. Firstly, if your brand has a negative image you may consider changing your company name and look, if you do, check the spelling and pronunciation in the languages of your target audience. And secondly, make sure that it does not have any silly or negative connotations.  

Here’s a prime example, when Coca-Cola introduced their brand to China, it was at first pronounced “ke-kou-ke-la,” which means “bite the wax tadpole.”  Even coming from a huge conglomerate that sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it?

When you have an established brand name, slogans/taglines are good way to market your brand to diverse groups. Be sure to adapt your slogan rather than straight translation. It may, at first, seem smart to hire a translator, yes and make sure that your translator knows your target cultures and market goals. That is why your best approach may be to pick a combination team with translators and marketers. A good marketing team shows respect to the client by having a knack for languages, target cultures, and is aware of today’s diverse market. Whatever you do, do not simply use translation software. This seems obvious, but many prospective clients have been lost that way.

Photo By: CreativaImages/gettyimages

Guerilla soldier with thumbs up and sign that says Going Guerilla PROSAR.

3 Considerations for Guerilla Marketing

We deal with a lot of small and medium sized businesses, and many are looking for the magic rocket that will quickly propel them to recognition, fame and fortune. They’ve heard of some fantastic event or promotion that made a start-up company a household name and driven 500% growth, and they want that. Who wouldn’t? Here are three important questions to ask when considering guerilla marketing.

 

How Does it Fit Into Your Marketong Plan?

Unfortunately, creating an Internet meme or popular guerilla marketing tactic is not likely; and not a realistic goal on its own. I certainly don’t underestimate the potential power of such a tactic, but the chance of being successful is remote… really, really remote. Before you start playing the marketing lottery, I suggest you invest in a good strategic plan. It sounds boring in comparison to a viral video or flash event, but it will focus your marketing efforts on tactics that will steadily move your company forward.

The advantage of a plan is that, well, its planned. It takes into consideration your current position, resources, your goals and where you want the company to be down the road. Growing your business successfully relies on planning your route to get there, and a strong brand [For more on Branding, check out: I Have a Website, Why Do I Need Branding?; Is Your Brand Relevant?] with structured marketing will accelerate that. True, some wild guerilla marketing would add an octane boost, but without the plan and marketing foundation, you might find yourself out of gas and coasting to the side of the road just as fast.

The benefits of a good marketing plan are numerous:

  • Build or support your brand
  • Clearly communicate what you stand for
  • Expand your market
  • Engage new audiences
  • Support sales goals
  • Improve the user-experience of dealing with your organization
  • Strengthen relationships with customers and leads
  • Provide measurable results to keep you on track

These are all important aspects in building a strong marketing foundation for your company. They allow you to project a professional image and provide targeted, clear communication to engage with your audience. They help customers to feel good about dealing with you and prompts referrals. They position your organization for growth and stability. And, they just might deliver a run-away successful tactic in teh process.

 

How Much Can You Invest in Guerilla Marketing?

It may seem like success just happens miraculously, and all it took was a simple video. That can happen, but when it does it is a fluke. And, since no strategy is built around it, it is quickly forgotten when the next wave of cool videos and memes flow along the Internet current. Hard to ride the wave if you aren’t prepared for it.

On the other hand, companies have wasted large budgets on carefully crafted, wittily worded, and slickly sequenced videos and “impromptu” events that have gone no where. So budget alone does not determine the likelyhood of success. Other than luck, the most important aspects are strategy and understanding. Strategy is main thrust of this article; understanding relates to your audience, social and soietal considerations, the chosen media and communication. It’s a lot to understand and requires a team to gather the intelligence, decipher its relevance, integrate this knowlegde and align it with your strategy and goals, design, develop and implement the magical event/video/meme that goes viral. Fortunately, both strategy and understadning are inherent in a good marketing plan.

It is a significant commitment of people, process and time, so don’t waste resources on trying to develop the rocket that will propel your brand to stardom, until you have your growth planned and a marketing strategy to get you there. It’s certainly possible that one of your planned and measured tactics designed to move you further along your structured marketing plan may go viral. And it makes sense to try to create such a tactic — as long as it is part of comprehensive plan and budget.

 

Besides Popularity, What is the Goal?

So, how would you leverage the popularity garnered from a run-away viral hit? Would it dovetail into your existing plan, or would you need new online workflows (landing pages, forms email campaigns, etc.), sales team strategy, PR campaigns, etc., to take advantage of this boost. If you’re fortunate enough to find success, don’t let it plummet away from you.

Be ready to respond promptly and positively. Popularity is wonderful, but usually fleeting. You’ll need to connect it strategically to your brand, processes and sales pipeline to successfully sustain your growth efforts. Again, it’s that boring plan that truly propels you to success, otherwise you simply have a really cool video that everyone watched for three days.

Planning is the key to business and marketing success. The better prepared you are, the more in-tune you are with your audience, media and environment in which you play, the more likely you will succeed. This gives you a strong foundation for sustainable growth, and makes it even more likely that a guerilla marketing tactic could work for you. But if it doesn’t, your organization is still progressing towards achieving its goals.

Guerilla soldier with thumbs up and sign that says Going Guerilla PROSAR.

Photo Credit: MichealJay/gettyimages.com

I Have a Website, Why Do I Need Branding?

I have a website, a logo, and a mission statement, why do I need branding?

This is a question asked by many when looking to grow their businesses online. It’s a question we expect and we’re happy to discuss. Branding is an essential part of a marketing strategy, which is where it all should begin.

 

Branding graphic
Thinkstock/iStock

Branding Defined

Branding is a name, symbol or design that identifies a product or a company from the others.

Simple as that sounds, branding is more than just a logo or a catchy name.  Or nice new stationary and an updated website.  Branding is an expression of the value your organization delivers. Branding allows you to communicate that value in a unique and visual way, integrated within everything you do.

What About My Mission Statement?

If branding is all expressing who you are and the value you bring, what about my mission statement (that we worked so hard on writing)?

Mission statements are important internal documents. Those outside of your organization may have difficulty in interpreting what they mean to anyone outside of your organization. There is discussion as to whether they should be publicized at all, some considering them as self-serving. Most mission statements are flat-out declarations on how great a company is.

Branding should reflect your mission statement. As such it is an effective and subtle way to show your reason for being in business. No risk of sounding cliche, self-serving, or just like every other mission statement. Every brand is unique!

Branding is Your Promise

One of the great things about having an effective brand is that it delivers a standard of messaging consistency. Brand covers visual and communicative tone that your entire organization can really get behind. Effective brands are worn with pride by its employees, it has a rallying effect that keeps everyone singing the same song.

There is an implied promise behind a brand that what you do as an organization will be as a unit, behind the brand, and offer a consistent quality. People expect consistency behind a brand. From McDonalds to IBM, we know what to expect when we patronize these businesses.

The Branding Package

When sourcing a new website or a new logo, think bigger picture and think of your brand. This is what separates what a marketing agency can do for you from the $500 website your cousin can build.

The bigger picture of you brand is the most important picture, one that will last longer than a website upgrade. Branding and re-branding should not be done frequently or even regularly – too often affects the credibility of the brand. If your brand is stuck in the 80s however, it may be time for a more contemporary change.

Branding covers names, logos, design, packaging, signs, web, social media, and just about anything else that reflects your organization. Brand consideration is inevitable in a business’ maturity. There comes a time for all when a website reflects more than just a logo, it reflects a brand.

The ABCs of Tone

“Tone” is an abstract but critical concept for marketing. Just like perfect pitch is rare in singing, perfect tone is equally rare. In general, tone refers to how you’re delivering your message to the audience, and it’s important to understand the importance of the right tone. In the end, tone is the reason people keep listening.

While it’s impossible to create a sure-fire formula for the perfect tone every time, there are considerations to improving your tone across all platforms. Just remember ABC and you’ll be well on your way to better marketing.

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Image credit: kadirkaba / iStock / ThinkStock

Audience

As always, the more you know about your audience, the better your marketing message will be. Age, gender, relationship status, and more factors impact what tone will work best. However, do not focus on stereotypes and supposed best practice attempts (especially for groups such as millenials). Research your particular audience segment in depth and, preferably, read content generated by the target you want to hit. That will provide a better understanding of how to tailor your tone to your demographic.

Learn where your audience spends their time, what marketing messages they resonate best with, and the language the audience already uses. Once you do that, your message will go further.

Branding

Your own company’s brand guidelines should influence how you speak in advertising. Depending on the type of product and how you want to position yourself in the market, you could stick to terms like “informative” and “friendly,” or be more detailed about exact wording whenever you discuss the product or service. No matter what you do, keep it consistent throughout the marketing. It’s jarring to encounter wildly different tones within the same company, making consumers less likely to stick with your company.

Make sure your brand guidelines allow for the same general tone to translate across all channels you’re using.

Context

Each media channel out there has its own norms and best practices for effective language. While companies often go for similar messaging but different wording between traditional media channels— shorter, snappy headlines for outdoor and entertainment value for radio— they very frequently they fall flat online.  How often have you seen a tweet copied from Facebook, or a blog post that looks like it comes straight out of a magazine? You should be adjusting your tone to the environment you’re putting it in, which includes how people use the channels.

Learn online media as much as you learn traditional media. You cannot simply copy/paste your traditional marketing tone on the web and expect it to work. Take the time to adjust, especially considering how much of your audience is online.

Remember A, B, C, and you’ll find tone is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Is Your Brand Relevant?

 

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Many years ago, we dealt with a local retail clothing chain that catered to a young demographic. They were very aware of their market’s needs and wants, and the importance of how well their brand reflected that market. The owner was relatively young himself, but a very intelligent fellow with valuable experience and good business instincts. Often, when we presented a campaign, he would stare at it for a while and muse over the creative or messaging. He would say something along the lines of “This isn’t anything like I had in mind… but let’s consider how it might play out and what it can do for our brand.” Nine times out of ten he endorsed the campaign. Only part of the credit goes to our team. A large part of the credit goes to the client: first of all for providing us with the insight to fully appreciate his market; and then to remove any ego from his decision and apply his business and market knowledge to best support his brand.

He understood that his brand wasn’t about him or what he thought was cool. He fully realized that his store’s brand needed to be relevant to his market. And he understood his audience well enough to consider each campaign from their perspective. He figuratively walked a mile in their shoes before deciding whether he felt the campaign was a hit or miss. (Check out Marketing and Sales Strategy: The Need For Focus.)

Regardless of whether you produce a product or provide a service, and whether your focus is B2C or B2B — you have a target market that must somehow connect with you in order to choose to deal with you. In order to resonate with your market, they need to be aware of you and feel inclined to learn more. Branding achieves this by grabbing their interest and effectively communicating that you are relevant to them.

Sounds easy, but it’s anything but. And, like anything somewhat complex, it is a process. It’s not simply a matter of creating a cool logo and tantalizing tagline… not that they are typically simple to do. (Check out The Four Pillars to Building a Brand that Builds Your Company.) Without an actual brand strategy and ongoing stewardship, even well-crafted components are only a façade which your market will quickly see through. In my example above, the clothing store hired carefully and trained their staff extensively so that the in-store experience was the essence of their brand. All material, from promotional signage to applications to staff memos were written and designed to reflect the store’s tone and raison d’être. All staff understood the mission and bought into the vison. They had a comprehensive strategy that considered all the touch points for staff and customers. Do you?

To help your organization in putting together such a strategy, consider:

  • who is your target market
  • what are their wants, needs, and problems
  • why do you care
  • what do you want your message to be
  • why should they care
  • how can you reach your target market
  • what are the touch points to reinforce your brand

This list is not comprehensive, nor should it trivialize the process of establishing a strategic branding plan. It may require a lot of research and planning and writing, and then even more work to implement, monitor and maintain. But it is well worth the investment, for a strong brand is one of the most valuable assets an organization can attain.

What would you add to the list of considerations above?

The 4 Pillars to Building a Brand that Builds Your Company

 

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Every business owner dreams of prosperity; and every business person understands that success takes hard work. That hard work is not solely sweat equity. Getting up at dawn every morning to allow for 12-hour work days is part of the formula, but working smart is equally as important. A sound strategy to guide your efforts is key to actually realizing great success — and a sound strategy includes an appropriate brand that is targeted to your consumers and well-supported throughout your plan.

Sounds simple, yet few companies seem to nail it. LEGO’s brand is far stronger than its engineered ability to lock together securely. The company has parlayed a quality toy into a megalithic brand that represents quality, intelligent design, creativity, and much more. They have successfully leveraged this brand to capture the hearts and minds of numerous distinct audiences worldwide — from awe-inspired pre-school children building their favourite superhero, to awe-inspiring engineers and scientists who meet in groups to talk about and create magnificent LEGO creations. We expect and trust LEGO to provide fun and educational activity for enthusiasts of all ages.

What can you do to build a brand with this kind of integrity? Obviously, consulting with bonafide branding experts is a smart strategic business decision, but there are things you can do yourself. Io start, you can consider these four pillars to developing and sustaining a strong foundation for your brand.

Visual Identity

Yes, the logo plays an important role in setting the scene for your brand. Your visual identity is a fundamental means of communicating who you are and what you offer. It is an opportunity to attract your targeted market with a look that they will respond to. Maintaining consistency is important to reinforce your “look,” however in our digital age that can be attained with more fluidity than the constrained approach previously enforced. Years ago, many companies thought that their logo was their brand, but most organizations now appreciate that the beauty is more than skin deep.

Corporate Messaging

From your tagline to your corporate mission to the content on your website, what you say and how you say it is critical. Whatever your organization puts out there can have strategic influence. Consider your audience (and you may have several distinct market segments to address) and try to engage with them in your writing and messaging. Consider the tone of your organization: authoritative and instructional, understanding and guiding, carefree and irreverent… Different people within your organization creating content, each with their own voice, can still infuse a corporate tone and positioning through their material. A branding strategy should explicitly outline the messaging objectives and desired corporate tone.

User Experience

Whether your consumer is on a website, on the phone or on-site, what do you want them to think of your organization? In addition to the branded identity and corporate messaging, does the environment reflect the essence of your organization? Do interactions with your company support this positioning? The best logo and tagline in the world mean nothing if people, service, store décor, website design, automatic email wording, etc., are not all aligned to reinforce the desired image. Virtually all business owners have the best intentions, and perhaps even believe that their consumers are experiencing the fill thrust of what their brand represents; but few companies live up to their mission and vision statements. That is why the LEGOs stand apart, and why they have continued success.

Implementation

It’s not enough to have the prescient ideas and strategic rationale, you need the implementation and maintenance plan to realize any benefit. All facets of the organization at all levels need to be in agreement, and hopefully share in the vision, to put the plan in play, and keep it a top priority in virtually everything that they do.

It’s a simple list, but running a company is difficult; and developing a successful and respected organization with sought-after services/products is an achievement that requires a well thought out and coordinated brand strategy. There are more certainly considerations in building a strong brand, what would you add to these three pillars?

National Associations: 3 Ways to Engage Your Members

As the staff of any national association knows, it is important to keep members informed, motivated and remind them of the importance/relevance of the association they belong to. Engaged members are members who care. Importantly, this engagement can also support your organization’s continued relevance and value to its members.

Though many members of associations automatically become members by default, meaning they don’t need to be persuaded to join or to remain members, associations should nevertheless strive to continuously prove their value to members. All members should feel like the association they are a part of is invested in them and that they matter. Further, it is important to provide members, new and old, with easy ways to relate to your association and find their place within it. Read on for three ways to engage members with their association.

National_Associations-3_Ways_to_Engage_Your_Members

 

1)   Use Social Media to Create an Engaged Community

The power of simple, instant communication afforded by social media to bring people together is incredibly impressive. A key strength of social media is that it enables the creation of communities  united by a commonality, in this case, a shared membership to an association. Your national association should see social media as an opportunity to create a community of engaged members.

Maintaining your social media accounts, with the help of a sound strategy, of course, will also aid your federation in appearing (and being) more relevant and approachable.

Once you’ve (a) made your social media accounts easy to find and (b) maintained activity on these accounts, you open the door for members to engage with you directly in an easy and convenient manner. Make sure to respond in a timely manner to show members that their national association values their input and cares about their needs.

 

2) Produce Visual Content to Engage

Large associations can seem complex to outsiders — even to their own members!

Infographics are able to both clarify and disseminate sometimes complex information while engaging the reader. They do this by delivering valuable information such as statistics and facts in an organized, efficient, and visually engaging way. Breaking down the association’s key functions or highlighting achievements (for example), into simple, well-branded visuals can effectively present how the organization works and benefits its memebership. Done properly, infographics have the remarkable ability to make potentially confusing or bland information nearly painless and even enjoyable to consume!

The advantages of infographics for national associations are clear: from highlighting membership benefits to sharing important news or history.

Unlike a blog article (which has its own list of virtues), infographics are more immediately immersive. A well-designed visual arrangement of information will immediately create an appealing environment for the reader and requires less of a mental investment than multiple paragraphs of words on a page.

There is a reason infographics have been trending for a long time: they are easy to share on social media. People like them because they are seen as low-effort/high-pay-off pieces to both consume and share. For that reason they are also a great way to extend your message to places it hasn’t been before. Strong brand awareness for any national association is an on-going concern.

 

3) De-clutter Your Website for More Engagement

Try visiting (nearly) any national association’s homepage — choose one you have never visited before. How do you feel? A little overwhelmed?

If you don’t know exactly where to look and what you want, you’ll find that navigating many association websites can be overwhelming. There is often so much depth and breadth of information in such a compact space, that it can be difficult to figure out where to begin. Imagine how someone must feel who knows little about your organization. Pairing things down and organizing information in a clean and logical fashion makes good sense.(Not everything needs to be immediately accessible from your homepage.).

 

Conclusion

By using social media to nurture a stronger sense of community, infographics to communicate important information clearly and appealingly, and an easy to use and informative website, you will be more successful at engaging your members than ever before.