Marketing Through Associations

If you’re in direct marketing, you’re continually looking for new list
sources — everybody’s tired of mailing to the same lists. If you’re not in
direct marketing and thinking about putting a mailing together, here’s
something a little different: take a look at marketing through
associations.

Why would anyone ever market to associations? They’re great targets:
try sending a press release to an association’s publication – whether it’s
a newsletter or a magazine. Why, you can alert an entire industry of your
products or services with one or two well-placed news releases.

Since the magazines and newsletters of associations are not the
mainstream prospecting tools of most marketers who market through
more traditional channels association publications receive just a fraction
of the press releases and promotional articles that go to major
publishers. Yet the comprehensive lists of over 23,000 associations go
astonishingly deep in most major and minor markets. In addition,
association publications are usually well regarded and lend excellent
credibility to the firms that get ink in their house publications.

Why else would you market through associations? Maybe you’re an
affinity marketer – and you’d like to have the 96,000 members of the
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association apply for the special
trial rate of your new credit card. Or, maybe you’d like the National
Electrical Contractors Association – with 80 people on staff, and a
budget of $10 to $25 million to support their 4,000 member firms that
comprise 118 local chapters (along with the entire personnel of each
member firm) – to apply for your new phone service. Associations can
deliver thousands of their members – new customers for you – with a just
a few contacts and a modest budget.

You’d definitely market through associations if you’re part of the
hospitality industry and would like to arrange a convention – complete
with hotel rooms, ballrooms, and services for the complete screaming
regime of whoever shows up – of the 2,300,000 members of the National
Education Association of the United States. Or go for a smaller piece of
their $100,000,000 budget – give or take a few million – get hired as a
speaker or on-site entertainment, or snag some of the the association’s
printing business. Association lists work for all the above. Associations
are key targets for the entire hospitality industry sales force: hotels,
convention space, caterers, promotional products, printed material,
ballrooms, ground services, and on-site entertainment, to name a few.

Quite frankly, I realize the big organizations are not for everyone. Not
everyone is looking for the big numbers, even in lists. Some people are
just looking for a short cut – an entry wedge into an industry at the top
level. For this purpose, association lists are also useful in marketing to
the elite leaders of select industries.

For example: If you wanted to get in bed with all of the 53 companies
who belong to the Biscuit and Cracker Distributors Association, a
reference book showing detailed information about their association
may be just your cup of tea. You’ll find their address – along with their
association size, annual budget, history, newsletter and publication
detail, meeting and convention dates, website, email address, and their
executive director’s name – on page 179 of the National Trade and
Professional Associations of the United States directory.

The 828-page National Trade and Professional Associations of the
United States ($99) reference tool lists 7,600 associations, and is
published annually by Columbia Books, Inc. (www.columbiabooks.com;
888-265-0600, fax 410-810-0911) along with its companion, the State
and Regional Associations of the U.S. directory ($79). The state and
regional association guide is particularly useful if you are targeting
specific geographic areas and want access to top local association
contacts not included in the national book. The State and Regional
Associations of the U.S. directory also has a higher percentage of
association managers who, while managing multiple associations, cross
many industry lines when sourcing vendors or affinity marketers.

Information in both Columbia Books directories is cross-referenced by
association index, subject index (500 subjects/alpha), also by budget
index, geographic index, executive index, and acronym name index.
Association management companies are also shown. All of their data is
available on disk. These two reference tools fit in your briefcase, and
make surprisingly great reading, if – like me – you’re a marketer and
have no other life outside of marketing and occasionally watching cat-
dog on TV (ask your kids!).

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