I've recently had some great conversations with chambers of commerce and business associations on how they can use content marketing to engage their audience, drive new member sales and improve retention. Some staff at these associations have suggested that they simply can't compete with online entities for delivering valuable content to their members.
In terms of the sheer volume of content - no, associations and chambers will not be able to compete with the entire internet.
But, if you consider the quality of the content, your organization has a distinct advantage of being able to deliver very targeted content to your members.
Big Brands Struggle To Connect
In John Jantsch's recent article on Duct Tape Marketing's website, The Problem With Inbound Marketing, he highlights that big brands have entered content marketing aggressively, but they found that doing it well takes time, is expensive and can be hard to measure. And, big brands have a hard time connecting with their audience in a personal way.
From the article:
"The key difference between big brands and small brands – whether either knows it or not – is that small brands practice inbound marketing and inbound selling at the very same time.
Meaning that they are not only able to produce content, but personalize it, turn it into stories, add insights client by client and deliver extreme value along the journey from awareness to referral."
I believe this puts associations and chambers of commerce in an outstanding position to create highly relevant, targeted and personalized information for their members, prospects and related audiences.
You already have great information about your members in your membership management software. And, you have great relationships with many of your members as well. Just put the two things together to create great stories that have value to your members.
For example, when you create content about how your political affairs efforts stopped a bill that would have cost member businesses $7 million dollars, bring that number down to their level. Show that Dave Smith from ABC Industries, a 15 employee business, will now save more than $2,500/year due to your organization stopping the legislation. (That sure makes the $500/year they pay in dues seem like a bargain now.) Other members will be able to relate to your specific example and understand how the issue affects them.
Or, when writing about how your annual business showcase benefits exhibitors by exposing them to 1,500 potential new customers, cite specific success stories to connect the dots for your members. Show how Susan Jones of XYZ Business exhibited last year and gained 4 new clients worth more than $15,000 to her business. You may want to include a few different examples in longer content to reach multiple segments of your audience.
Think about all the ways you can segment your members into groups to help you create super targeted and relevant content for your members. And that content doesn't have to be limited to blog posts, news articles and other website content. By using the data in your membership management software you can find or create multiple groups of members for which you can deliver targeted emails, newsletters or phone calls.
- Members with a certain number of employees may find a new benefit more useful that larger employees
- Members in a particular business category may be more affected by certain issues than other members
- Members that joined for networking or learning opportunities should know about new events coming up
- Members in particular state or city could benefit from you sharing a certain news article with them
Each of these groups (and many more) are perfect candidates for very personalized content that connects with your audience. The more personalized content you deliver to your members, the more value they will see in your organization. And we know that members who feel they are receiving value renew more often, improving member retention and helping to drive new member sales.
You've got a great content marketing advantage. Create specific member examples in your content and deliver personalized message to your members. Great things will happen!