It goes without saying that the recession of 2008 had quite an impact on marketing membership associations across Europe.
All of a sudden, companies that had paid their employees’ memberships for years, found that this was an area where they could make a quick cost saving.
With wage freezes and the prospect of potential redundancy, marketers themselves began to question their membership as purse strings began to tighten.
It was a question of, not cost, but value. No longer was it the case that younger people – the millennial generation – felt a marketing membership was essential.
Membership associations were left facing the challenge of having to add more value to their members than ever, but at the most economically stringent of times.
Nine years on, and some of those challenges remain such as the advent of smaller, faster, more agile organisations with whom membership associations need to keep pace, particularly when it comes to ‘digital’.
Membership associations need to be more creative these days in order to retain and grow their members, as well as recognise some constructive changes they can make to help them embark on a period of change for the better.
This was something we discussed at our annual conference with a number of marketing membership associations from across Europe.
Reassuringly, when we discussed this issue, each association’s experiences were the same.
There was widespread recognition that supplying networking opportunities in order to convert members was no longer enough and that, historically, some associations have been guilty of providing too many freebies, leading to the question of just how much to give for free.
The main consensus, however, was that it’s as much about marketing membership associations acting as marketers themselves, as it is about spearheading the profession.
Associations need to get back to basics in terms of situational analysis, member segmentation and the development of the proposition.
There also needs to be more of a focus on value, rather than communication for communication’s sake. A better understanding of marketing touch points with members, to help understand the opportunities and be more targeted can help here.
Essentially, however, it’s about each marketing membership association finding a consensus for what marketing techniques work for them.
This is what our next series of blogs will look into – what marketing membership associations can learn from each other, to help attract and grow their members, whilst retaining existing marketers.
To find out more about how your marketing membership association can take part in future events to share good practice, don’t hesitate to get in touch.