As a business that provides services to associations, we rely heavily on sharing our knowledge—through articles, blog topics, videos, infographics—to remain visible to current and future customers. Our content helps us increase awareness of what we know, what we do, and what we can offer. It’s how we establish credibility and make new connections. As an association, you need to do the same for your members. Continually creating new, fresh and relevant content, however, is where most businesses struggle. And where most associations have a clear advantage.
Associations Are Sitting On a Goldmine
Unlike most for-profit organizations, associations are in the business of content. You source it for your conferences. You develop it for your educational programs. And you produce it for your publications. You have no shortage of knowledge and ideas to share. But what many don’t have is a well-defined sharing program, both internally and externally, which prevents associations from using that content to its full potential.
Overcoming Internal Obstacles
Before you can leverage your content, you first have to know what’s available to you. Due to the siloed nature of many associations, simply having visibility across departments can be difficult. So here are a few ideas to break down those barriers:
- Form an internal content team consisting of representatives from each department. Meet quarterly to discuss and share what’s new, what’s in development, and which topics are seeing the greatest success.
- As part of this discussion, be sure to include insights on industry and member challenges, common questions your industry is asking and new learning opportunities.
- Together, identify opportunities to re-package and reuse existing content, as well as to cross-promote programs (e.g., promote an instructor-led course at the annual conference).
- As part of this process, you may assign someone to look through your archive of past materials for items that remain relevant. These materials can be “dusted off” for future use.
- Define a workflow plan. Create a central repository for all final content that can be accessed across the organization, which can be as simple as a shared file folder.
Developing a Disciplined Content Marketing Process
With so many other “mission critical” tasks on the to-do list, finding time to consistently execute a content marketing strategy can feel daunting. However, you can reduce the amount of time you spend on a daily, weekly and monthly basis by developing a simple structure to help facilitate the process:
- Create an editorial calendar that outlines monthly themes and weekly topics. You can then map these topics to the content and assets you already have in your library.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. Take your existing content and find ways to re-package it, more than once. For instance, take a popular session presentation from your annual conference and turn it into a blog post or infographic. Interview the speaker. Or better yet, ask them to write a follow-up piece. They’ll appreciate the added exposure, and you’ll have one less task to complete.
- This goes without saying, but be sure the content you are marketing is housed online in a way that is user-friendly to view and navigate. If possible, you also want to give members the option to browse other, related content as well. The deeper they can engage, the more engaged they become.
Getting started with content marketing can be tough. You will have to plan to invest more time than you probably feel like you have to get everything up and running. But once you do, you will find you have created a powerful engine to increase awareness, attendance and engagement, which will absolutely pay off for your conference and your association.