Solving modern problems facing marketers at professional and trade associations

ProfeMeeting Roomssional and trade associations flourished in the 20th century as the need to form cooperative education and government advocacy organizations grew with the advance of industry as well as the pure size and power of the federal government.  As a result, associations solidified themselves as the gatekeepers to professional certifications, top education conferences, professional networks, a voice in regulatory affairs, and information that helped everyday practitioners build their businesses.

As new technologies (and with them new forms of social interaction and collaboration) ushered in the 21st century, the value associations represented in their fields began to be called into question; if members of an industry or field could now network, publish, exchange information, and collaborate freely and often outside of the industry or field’s official association, what value did the association provide?  While new technologies could not immediately replace all of the offerings associations provided (e.g. face to face meetings, certifications), the role of the association as focal point for professional advancement threatened to diminish.

Association markets now find themselves in search of stories they can tell that reshape the mindset about association value.  But how?

We have selected key challenges that face association managers and marketers today, and have outlined an Action Science Marketing™ (ASM) solution to those problems.


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“Can you help me reverse declining memberships and/or discover new revenue models?”

ASM Solution

Discover how current members of your field characterize your organization and the stories they tell that guide their decision to affiliate. Develop specific marketing stories in various forms to match current decision narrative. Monitor change in audience narrative about organization and its value.

Key Deliverables

Audience narrative about the profession, your organization, and affiliating, segmented by audience segment; evaluation of current storytelling and how it is received by audience; video, blog, presentation, and one on one pitch storylines; coherent, grounded brand story that captures unique offering of organization by targeted segment.

“How can I build and sustain my organization’s appeal to new generation of members (e.g. Millennials)?”

ASM Solution

Discover and accurately interpret the stories younger members tell about the field and your organization, focusing on surfacing the values and social norms they connect with. Craft marketing stories and story architectures that sync with the conversation and target values.

Key Deliverables

Audience sub-narrative about the profession, your organization, and affiliating, segmented by younger audience sub-segments; evaluation of current storytelling and how it is received by this audience; video, blog, presentation, and one on one pitch storylines that relate to sub-segment values.

“Is there a way to ensure I can maintain my organization’s authority as an industry thought leader?”

ASM Solution

Discover and accurately interpret the key stories that members of your field tell and discern the main threads that make certain issues more important than others in their minds. Produce highly visible web film series and/or documentary film that isolate these stories and the values that drive them.

Key Deliverables

Thought leadership engagement, which produces a organizational story schedule based on in-depth, ethnographic research into the audiences narratives and sub-narratives. This schedule is a set of themes and related topics that directly reflect the values, beliefs and assumptions of your industry members by segment. Bylines, blog posts, video, thought papers, press releases, speaking topics and other channels are prioritized and planned in order to establish thought leadership, as accompaniment to the web video series and documentary.