When you think of marketing your trade association or professional organization, does the term “audience development” come to mind? If not, you may be missing out on plenty of potential new paying members. Audience development has always played a large part in the marketing process, but today, thanks to the Internet and social media, it’s an even larger part of the puzzle. Ignore it at your peril!
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Defining Audience Development
Although it may initially sound like some meaningless buzzword, audience development is actually incredibly important in reaching the right people. In any type of business that reaches out to consumers, audience development can essentially be thought of as understanding the audience and speaking to their desires. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean giving in to their desires, as marketing is all about trying to get someone to see why they need what you have to offer even if they don’t have an initial desire. What this does mean, however, is that you first need to know what your potential customer, or new member, is interested in before you can deliver.
Analyzing Your Data
After listening to potential new members, you need to analyze what they have to say. This means not just creating a simple chart regarding likes and dislikes of potential members; instead, create a chart for each potential member you speak with. Really dig down deep during interviews to discover not just what they want, but what they don’t want, where they came from, their educational backgrounds, their hobbies, and where they frequent. All of this data can create persona documents that basically display a mockup of what the various types of potential new members look like as people.
Once you’ve listened to and analyzed data from potential members, put it to good use by building and maintaining relationships. This can be done through something as simple as email, but it can also be more personal when done through social media. Remember, this is not about offering a sale on memberships to lure new members in. While that tactic can be effective, it won’t help to build relationships, and instead, it can attract people who won’t get much out of your association anyway. Building relationships is all about understanding the data you have analyzed and speaking directly to the hopes, fears, pain points, and goals of the potential new members your association or organization is targeting.
Back to the Beginning
As mentioned, you want to listen to what prospective members are looking for, but you also want to think ahead. In many cases, people only want a better version of what is currently available, not an entirely new solution. Because of this, you need to take what people want a better version of and then make a better version of that. This will not only give you a boost in memberships, but it will also establish your association or organization as a thought leader in the business community.