As an association or chamber of commerce, you have a wealth of relationships and information available to share with your members, which can be both a good and bad thing when it comes to creating content. While you have great information to pull from, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming to know where to focus your association’s content marketing efforts. Blog posts, news articles, contributing to newspapers, opinion pages, industry journals, Facebook posts, LinkedIn pages...the list is endless.
Instead of focusing on the “where to post,” let’s start with creating the right content for your organization and your members.
What to talk about
The content you create should contain topics that are interesting and useful for your audience. Remember that it’s OK to have content that targets different audiences. Sometimes you'll create content aimed at members, prospects or other groups that may be connected to your membership such as legislators, civic groups or other community leaders. Your content needs to engage the target audience, convince them why they should keep reading and possibly take some action.
If you haven’t started creating content yet, check out our blog post on how to start content marketing for your association or chamber. For those that have started and aren’t sure how to continue, remember to ask yourself these questions to get ideas going for new content:
- Why do members join your association or chamber of commerce?
- What types of businesses or individuals join your organization? (Look beyond a common industry. Are there other similar factors about your members?)
- What benefits can our association provide members that they cannot provide themselves?
- What topics can we write about to assist our members in improving their business?
- What questions about our industry or community can we answer for our members?
- What research does our organization do that our members would like having access to?
- What questions can we ask our members to help us create more content for them?
Remember to tell a story with your content. Tell your audience how you got where you are, and how you are helping others get there too.
Aim for a relationship
Rather than targeting your audience for a quick purchase or membership sale, work to gain their trust and develop a long-term relationship. Remember that gaining and keeping a member – and building a long history of providing value - is the ultimate goal.
By maintaining their interest and providing valuable information or resources they cannot find elsewhere - or that you “distill” for them to easily understand - you will be reinforcing your value and why they should stay involved.
Also, include as many members in your content as you can. By using specific real world examples of how members benefit from a particular service, your content will be more relevant and useful to other members. And, those members who are specifically mentioned will feel more connected to your organization, further building your relationship with them.
Keywords, keywords, keywords
Implementing keyword phrases and specified word choices is essential to getting your voice “out there” in the digital space and gaining the right traffic to your website and blog. Google rankings are still extremely important to website traffic and employing some classic SEO techniques in your content will drive more success.
If you’re unsure what keywords your audience may be searching for, ask them! Your members are your best research tool. Ask them what topics they may need help with or what they search for when looking for ways to grow their business. To help you expand or refine your keyword targets, Google has a free keyword tool called Google AdWords for the basics.
While I agree with the experts that focusing on keywords is important, the ultimate test of your content is how valuable it is for your target audience. If you can deliver great content for your members that’s also targeting keywords that benefit your association, that’s a real recipe for success.
Get rewarded for your efforts
With your focus on providing quality content that your members need, you should expect a return on your efforts, right? But what kinds of reward will you see?
Some will be obvious and others may take some time to materialize. The first sign that your content efforts are paying off will be the comments and shares from your members. Your members will let you know if they find your content valuable.
Longer term measurement of success will include new member sales, member retention rates and even an increase in non-dues revenue from your website. (Remember, all that great content is getting more eyeballs that can also see ads.)
Content marketing does take time, effort and a sincere desire to help your members improve their business. And chances are those three things already fit nicely with your organization’s mission to serve your audience. Go out and create content!