This week’s episode covers important trends in virtual event sponsorship sales, membership, and additional areas of focus for associations.
Hello and welcome to JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. President of The Moery Company, JP’s mission is to arm today’s associations with insight and strategy to thrive and a progressively complex and competitive business landscape. 21st century associations must move forward with a little bit of hustle and revenue development at their core.
Two hundred and forty-nine episodes! I never thought I’d get this far and I never thought you’d be with me this long; I really do appreciate you.
Today, I want to give you some feedback on business development and what’s going on right now in the space.
Let’s start with sponsorships.
Virtual sponsorships are working and they are selling. We see this in the field as we are selling virtual event sponsorship inventory on the behalf of our clients and we’re having success doing so. Here are some observations:
1. Avoid assumptions. Don’t assume that your existing sponsors may not want to participate virtually. On the other hand, there may be prospects that would never buy a booth at your trade show that want to be a virtual sponsor. Know that renewing former sponsors may be a bit different than it used to be and that you are opening opportunities with partners that may not have been active in this way before.
2. Be prepared to spend time explaining and promoting your new platform. It’s really important to show momentum in the virtual space when partners are renewing, sponsoring new programs, and getting involved with your virtual platform.
3. Be prepared to provide more data than ever before. Data is why virtual platforms are so valuable, they can collect more and better data. Virtual platforms can collect contact information that you maybe were not able to provide them before and it’s easier to do so.
It’s going to be very difficult to sell your virtual event sponsorships if you haven’t hosted webinars or virtual programming that generated interest, people are not registering for events you have scheduled, or people are not showing up. Potential sponsors will ask how many people are tuning in to your webinars and their demographics. If you don’t have the numbers to back it up, it’s going to be very difficult to sell.
Let’s talk about membership for a moment.
1. Be certain that you’re connecting with prospective members right now. Do so by preparing your return on investment statement. Some things to include are:
Things that you have done for the industry and prospective and current members.
Number of calls made to Congress and the results on behalf of your members
Number of recorded sessions and webinars – how to apply for a PPP loan, for example – and other important information that you have shared.
You have to be able to articulate and develop the return on investment statement because you’ve been doing more work than you have ever done for your members. The reason why you need to do it is because your members are going to decide – in the last quarter of 2020 and in the first quarter of 2021 – whether they’re going to renew or not. Or they may have been, for the first time ever, participating in some of your programming and seeing what a great job you’ve done and how much you have helped them survive and thrive.
On that note, we (The Moery Company) joined an association that we had never joined before because of the information and the value that they’re currently providing us. They never asked for us to join, we did it on our own. However, you need to ask everyone who has benefited in the last six months to join.
2. The “you’re going to do the work anyway, whether we join or not” objection. We hear this one, a lot. We call it the free rider objection. However, we’re seeing that they’re starting to see the value of the association. You are helping them as a company so I think that when you hear that objection, they’re thinking about the industry overall. They’re beginning to see that they’re getting a direct return on what you’re doing for them. And in turn, we’re hearing the objection less because they’re getting direct impact. They’re getting direct value and you need to be able to articulate to them.
3. Lay out a series of scenarios for your renewal. Are you going to have to negotiate with some of your industry companies because of the impact of this pandemic? What was your renewal rate last year and how might you want to calculate renewals? What will the velocity of the renewals and the renewal rate be, broken down by industry sectors or member segments?
I think we may be headed into the toughest season ever. Some people think that things are going to return to normal and that they will keep operating their association like before and meetings will come back. What the hell are those folks thinking? We got to get ready for the next wave. The chickens are coming home to roost, you’re going to reap what you sow, or whatever analogy you want to put in place here, friends.
There’s a common theme in the marketplace that these business cycles affect associations in a delayed way. Right? We see industry trends and then we see similar business trends a little bit later in the association space. I think the bad stuff is the same. I know that there’s pain and that associations have made changes to staff. Some have had layoffs. Some have had to curtail the consultants that they use. I’ve seen it firsthand and I don’t think that this is necessarily over.
So, my perspective is this. There are three areas that associations really should be focused on right now:
1. Executing fantastic, incredible government relations – whether it’s regulatory, whether it’s in the States, whether it’s in Washington, DC – and articulating your hard work and telling the story about how you’re helping member businesses now. You know your members and industry need help and you have some incredible ways that you have been working to deliver value during this incredible era.
2. Proactively, consistently, and professionally selling the above message to your existing members and prospects, especially in this last part of the year.
We’ve got to be very good at government relations and mission centric things, and we have to be very good at selling. That is going to be a must in 2021 in my view. And, I’m with you all the way for another 250 episodes telling that story. We’ll talk next week on the Association Hustle.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. We’d love to connect with you. Check out our blog at moerycompany.com and subscribe to our weekly newsletter. You can also connect with JP on LinkedIn and Twitter at @JPMoery, as well as The Moery’s Company’s Instagram and Facebook page. To purchase a copy of JP’s book, Association Hustle: Top Strategies for Association Growth, go to JPMoery.com.
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