Associations mostly allocate their resources around member services but when a new initiative expands to serve consumers or potential new members a whole new strategy is needed.

Why a whole new strategy?

Because associations must build a new list of prospects rather than working from an existing member list (which has been their bread and butter in the past).

marketing to consumers

In other words, if you have a list of 15,000 members and have an initiative to start a pre-license school, consumer advocacy program, or political campaign then your members are not your primary targets and only serve as referral agents at best.

This means we must as an association reinvent our strategy, our tactics and plan out a roadmap to coordinate all of these activities otherwise wander hopelessly from activity to activity and get poor results.

So is it really worth creating a consumer centric campaign?

A whole new strategy means…

  • Using existing talent or finding specialist who have experience in launching consumer centric campaigns.
  • Developing and mastering new skill sets using new tools and software aimed at producing results.
  • Creating and deploying new job descriptions around new tactics to those are accountable for reaching specific deadlines.
  • Constructing new offers, sales pages, and email campaigns centered around the consumer to enter into the online sales funnel
  • Allocating enough time to deliver the launch successfully and identifying potential roadblocks ahead of time.
  • Creating benchmarks and measures for success throughout the campaign to ensure progress is made.
  • Setting aside time to measure the results from online campaigns.
  • Improving the results by honing job descriptions, systems and online communication portals.

What does most leadership say when a new initiative is created?

We can have the marketing and communications department do that!

I can just see “the look” on the marketing and communication staffers that get “that” announcement and hear these thoughts in their heads.
  1. I have enough on my plate now and you want me to do what?
  2. Am I getting paid any extra for doing all this new work?
  3. If I have to learn one more new thing I think I’m going to quit.
  4. Good think I only have 2 more years left before retirement.
Potential problems when launching new campaigns…
  • Budgets are stretched and misappropriated because a lack of attention to resources and real time to market.
  • Staff get overwhelmed to learn new skills that is not in their current job description.
  • Proper benchmarks are not set results are not measured regularly because other pressing deadlines are a distraction.
  • Other projects suffer because of lack of attention and reassignment to new activities.
  • Weak offers are poorly constructed and have low conversion rates.

Let’s get back to the process of building the list, creating the offer, and the copy.

If you have to build a new list then you can’t 100% rely on your existing channels and members because most communication benefits the member as opposed to the consumer.

A list (essentially a spreadsheet) can include first name, last name, email address, address, phone #, etc.  The more personal information you ask for the less people will subscribe but will be higher quality.  Email address is one I would require to be added to the list and as you build a relationship by offering value to “what’s in it for them” then they will give you additional personal information such as like as interests which can be used for further segmentation for future campaigns.

All lists are created by offering something unique, has immediate value, and a desire to earn more, do more, or save time making mistakes.  This happens by creating a special report directed at their primary fears from which you have the answers to however may not be explicitly communicating that in a format easy to receive, digest, and share with others who have similar interests, i.e., other friends who can benefit from your value proposition.

You can build a list by having others buy a product however it is more likely it is much easier and faster to give away something (downlaodable intellectual property) than to expect them to buy now.

For example I would create an offering the “10 Mistakes New Agents Make When Getting Their Real Estate License” and deliver it using an email auto-responder with emails being sent one per day with a video message and/or some other content that benefits them.  The trick is to include only insert one resource to access each email and then when they receive the value added bonus there is only one link to take action. BUY NOW!

The list is more important than anything else.  You can buy lists however they won’t have a high conversion rate cause they rely heavily on the copy and the offer.
The copy is the 2nd most important.  Have you ever bought anything cause the sales message was good but wasn’t all that great?  I’ve done it before and sure you have too.
The offer is the least important however still mandatory to be created well to increase the conversion rate.
Priority of the steps:
  1. Build the list.
  2. Create and improve the copy.
  3. Create and improve the offer.
The analytics behind improving each one of these don’t lie so as long as you take time to measure the results and improve each one consistently.
These tactics still apply to marketing to members however you already have a high quality list because they have already bought into membership.  Even though someone is a paid member still that doesn’t mean they are actively engaged.  Stay tuned for a future post on “Shadow inventory of membership”.

Here is your roadmap expressed as a mindmap


Building the list tactics, skill sets, and tools.

PPC advertising
  • Sponsored banner ads
  • Google PPC
  • Facebook ads
  • Retargeting on other websites
  • Facebook updates, tagging, commenting, and links
  • Twitter updates, mentions, hashtags, pictures, and links
  • Linkedin updates, group discussions, commenting, and links
Content marketing
  • YouTube videos
  • Blog posts
  • Pictures, info graphs, and mind maps
  • Slideshare presentations
Email marketing
  • HTML design
  • Auto-responders
  • A/B split testing
  • Online opt-in forms
Search engine optimization
  • Keyword identification and optimization
  • Including keywords in content, descriptions, tags, ALT tags, link tags, etc.
Conversion optimization
  • A/B testing of offer page
  • A/B testing of email subject lines
  • A/B testing of images linked to offer pages
  • A/B testing of written copy on on offer page

Improve the message (copy) tactics, skill sets, and tools.

Skill sets
  • Ask provocative questions when introducing the offers.
  • Invoke desire, logic, and fear into call to actions.
  • Create waterfall of interest when reading subsequent lines in the message to create excitement.
  • Hire a professional copywriter.
  • Use an article spinner to create variations of the message to be used in future blog posts to avoid redundancies and SEO penalties of using same content.

Create the offer tactics, skill sets, and tools.

  • Create the offer in Constant contact, Mailchimp, or other email software that has multiple opt-in option.  These might include opt-in by text, by email or even scan by QR code.
  • Place the offer URL (example in as many different online communication channels as possible.
  • Create trackable URLs to benchmark effectiveness of online marketing campaigns.
Develop the skill sets
  • Record audio segments of presentations or ask SMEs (subject matter experts) for files to be included.
  • Create other bonus content the consumer can benefit from.
  • Learn Optimize Press or other squeeze/sales page software to create the offer as a landing page used in marketing.
Use bonuses
  • Share Slideshare or PowerPoint presentations for those who take action now.
  • Share templates, scripts, and diagrams from Dropbox or before, during or after the offer is confirmed.
  • Buy low cost items on ($2 or less) to give as bonuses.

Roadblocks to the transition:

  1. We too often we milk the same change agents for support and have already burnt them out to support a new cause.
  2. Our home page is cluttered with too many calls to action from which we typically send online traffic.
  3. Consumer is confused with member related calls to action and a confused mind says no.
  4. We seek new marketing strategies in which we have no previous experience and rely on staff to become overnight experts.

How to Overcome the Roadblocks

If I were the executive of a firm I would do this…

Marketing department…

I know you have been under a lot of stress lately to do all these things we’ve been throwing at you and we are very proud of what you have accomplished.  Would you be open to learning a new few things that will increase your skill sets, equity in our company, and potentially your take home pay if we start to see some results?
CFO or finance committee…
We are always under the gun to meet new deadlines, take on new projects and provide value to our members consistently without rest.  I know how much you want to support this new initiative however please realize that if we are going to follow through with this then we will need to reexamine how much staff time, resources, and schedule is realistic if we are going to make this project a success.
Show them the list of tactics, skill sets, or tools and co-create how much time it will take to learn, create, assign, and hold each other accountable for reaching the deadlines.  Always add a buffer cause you always will need it, especially on time.
Explain to my significant other…
Honey, I’m going to have to start spending some time learning some new tricks otherwise I don’t know if I’m going to keep providing food on the table.  It has been brought to my attention that my job requires some new skills sets and at the very least an understanding of how this whole online thingy works.  All this means is that I will need to buy some books and read up a little more than I have so that when new projects come along I can delegate them better.  This extra time will provide less stress for me in the future and a better life at home.  You do want a better life at home, don’t you?
Chocolate, dinner, or an exotic vacation will do just fine.

Things that won’t work.

  1. Praying
  2. Medication
  3. Duress


Organizations bring in Doug Devitre from St. Louis, Missouri USA when they want to dramatically increase operational performance, create breakthrough value propositions, and serve customers beyond geographical constraints on a minimal budget. For more than a decade he has been setting trends with how organizations engage customers with social media, video marketing, and custom-built software applications. Doug’s book Screen to Screen Selling published by McGraw Hill pioneered the way sales professionals sold homes without being physically present before the COVID-19 pandemic. He is one of a select few who have earned the Certified Speaking Professional Designation from the National Speakers Association and has experience as a REALTOR.

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