Membership + Marketing

7 Strategies to Turn Your Association's Content into Revenue

7 Strategies to Turn Your Association's Content into Revenue

If you’re using a content marketing strategy to increase brand awareness and drive membership leads, you are likely producing a steady supply of high-quality content for your readers. With the nature of content marketing, however, your content probably doesn’t result in immediate sales – the process is designed to build trust and relationships over time.

Would your association benefit from developing content that you can sell directly to your members, non-members, and suppliers?

If the answer is yes, you’ll need to develop a keen understanding of the information market your members inhabit. You’ll need to answer this question: “What information is valuable enough that my members would be willing to purchase it for an extra fee?”

Is it information they need and want but don’t have time to research or develop? Is it a packet of forms vital to their operations but unique to your industry? Is it helpful information for certification programs? Or is it industry information your vendors would find valuable?

Whatever type of content is central to your industry, we’d like to share 7 content creation strategies that can produce immediate revenue, as well as help enhance your brand and satisfy your members.


Strategy #1 – Benchmarking Industry Trends

If you have data analysts available on staff or as contractors, turn them loose to develop ways to benchmark critical aspects of your members’ operations. Challenge them to produce a report that you can sell. Once the content is done, tease the report launch with a press release or blogs. Select a repeatable benchmark that you can release annually, quarterly, or monthly. When you’ve published several, report on the trends your studies show.


Strategy #2 – Study Guides & Tutorials

If your industry has a certification or credentialing program, you can develop fee-based study guides or tutorials. A great example is the set of CAE Terminology Flashcards developed by the Michigan Society of Association Executives. They sell for $135 to MSAE members and $150 for non-members. The flashcards are helpful for anyone studying for the CAE exam, so the audience is much wider than association execs in Michigan.


Strategy #3 – Technology Reviews

Everyone in the association industry enjoys a recommendation from another association exec. Your members probably would, too. Your association can review new technology platforms, apps, and tools, develop reports, and sell them as stand-alone products or via subscriptions. You can update the reports regularly and offer subscribers free updates for a certain length of time. This could be helpful during times when members are considering expensive new technology purchases.


Strategy #4 – Specialized Newsletters

You can offer premium newsletters with curated, in-depth content, expert analysis, or exclusive updates. If your newsletter offers information at a high level, you can sell subscriptions to it. The cost of the subscription will reflect the value of the information it contains.


Strategy #5 – Access to Exclusive Content Library

If your association has been collecting information in a content library, you can sell access to it. The content must be valuable and unavailable anywhere else. The library would need easy reference tools like a robust search engine and access to complete periodicals. Links to other resources are also attractive.


Strategy #6 – Resource & Form Bundles

Association execs love to share forms and other resources, including templates, with their peers. On the other hand, your members might compete with their peers and sharing could be discouraged. They might, however, be willing to pay for resource bundles that help them comply with new regulations, manage operations checklists, or deploy HR best practices. Your members may be able to get the information from another source, but you can make the choice easy for them because they trust your association to provide the best information possible.


Strategy #7 – Expert Insights

For this idea to work, you need experts with high-level insights – like learning to invest from Warren Buffet or getting social media advice from Taylor Swift. Identify the person or people in your industry who enjoy widespread respect – those others would pay to hear from. Start with a fee-based internet presentation of this person answering questions. Turn the interview into a blog, whitepaper, or e-book and sell it on your website. If you’re raising money for the association or foundation, it’s possible the expert would donate their time to your fundraiser.


Play to Your Marketing Strengths

One of the major advantages your association has is its database. Your database holds the names and contact information of your members, prospective members, former members, event participants, sponsors, and suppliers. You already have established business relationships with the people in the database and can generate vetted email lists whenever you need them. You won’t have to build lists from scratch.

You also won’t have to introduce your association. The people in your database have had at least one interaction with you already. You can continue to build awareness within that group, but the hard work will be mostly done.

If you’d like to market to the public or those outside of your membership, you can develop strategies to interest those groups. And you’ll need strategies designed to build a new database for people outside your membership.

How much revenue you generate depends largely on the attractiveness of your offer, the price of your content, and the size of your audience. Planned well, you can generate a steady stream of new revenue for your association.

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