So, as a membership organisation, trade association, or professional body, your world is changing. Your role as gatekeeper to privileged information has disappeared. The internet has given free access to sector data. Previously, when you spoke, your members listened, but not anymore! You understand social media is the new member engagement front – at least your inbox tells you so – and you’ve got some young people working on it, because they understand these things! And yet, shifting your brochure to Facebook hasn’t quite cracked it, and you’re beginning to wonder if you’ve become busy fools! How can you make this torrent of information work for you? Why is everyone else succeeding when you’re not?
Grant Leboff is a sales and marketing expert. He has three books on the subject under his belt to prove it. Sales Therapy and Sticky Marketing, his two earlier titles, were in Amazon’s top ten Business Books, and number one in the Sales & Marketing bestsellers chart. His latest, Stickier Marketing, went straight to number one in the Amazon Sales & Marketing Chart, and was in the top ten overall Business Chart, on publication in February 2014. It provides companies with the new principles of marketing so they can thrive in a digital world, and recently I arranged for him to share some with Institute of Association Management Members!
We’re going through a ‘social era’ according to Grant. One in which ‘word of mouth’ has gone online, and – to quote Oscar Wilde – “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”. Marketing is no longer about the image companies create, but the reputation they earn, expressed through what others say about them; building communities, not winning customers; and creating great content.
Sounds like a lot of work – you may think – pumping out all that content every day! But that would be to miss the point. Firstly, membership bodies must resist their natural instinct to ‘broadcast’ their important words of wisdom; focussing instead on a curatorial role; editing choice and maybe adding their imprimatur of authority; but certainly focussing on the ‘ME’ in social media.
Why? Because your members look for personalisation, are interested in what ‘influencers’ have to say, and are likely to act on recommendations from people they trust. So, harnessing the ‘wisdom of friends’ is the key. Ask yourself, where is the value for your customer in each piece of communication, why would they share it, and how? As traditional communal structures break down, and individuals, faced with ultimate choice, have to act on their own instincts, they look increasingly for social proof to guide their thinking, reinforce their ideas, and confirm their choices. And once they have made choices they want to legitimise them by involving others. Plus, there is nothing that most people like more than talking about themselves. If you can harness their desire to be associated with ideas and content and organisations that show themselves in a good light, they will do your marketing for you.