5 Steps to Getting a Foothold in a Key Association

robert-head-and-shoulders1-150x150In April, 2013 I interviewed Robert Skrob former CPA (claims he keeps his license to keep his mother happy) CAE (Certified Association Executive) and president of the Information Marketing Association.

I’ve been a member of the Information Marketing Association for several years and have benefited by affiliating with them.  Robert seems to have a clear-headed approach to info-marketing and at the same time has far more experience working with associations than anyone I know. He piggy-backed the Information Marketing Association itself onto another association – GKIC – resulting in an almost overnight and lasting success story.

Last week I received a pleasant surprise in the mail, an autographed copy of his new book, “Your Association Shortcut” along with a nice thank you note from Robert for helping him promote the book.

Promoting the book wasn’t why I interviewed him, though it was a natural by-product and one I’m happy to do. But with his book, he brings to light a fascinating, lucrative business strategy that is at once extremely obvious once you see it and at the same time hidden from view to most marketers, probably due to an oversupply of the latest “bright shiny object” from the marketing world.

Re-reading Your Association Shortcut, and going back through our interview, I was reminded of the value of this strategy, so thought I’d share a few of the key points to making it work for your business that I took away from the interview.

It’s something I’ve been doing for years, not particularly well and not at all consciously, until I encountered Robert’s book.  But it has been one of the top three marketing approaches that has worked for me in my business as a direct response copywriter.

Here’s a simple five-step approach to profiting by working with one or more of the associations out there that can benefit from what your business brings to the world:

Step 1: Develop a list of associations you’d like to build a relationship with.  One of the typical “gotcha’s” Robert has noticed that trips up many entrepreneurs is thinking they have to develop something with one particular organization.  Sometimes going with a local chapter rather than launching a national campaign will yield better results, for example.  In any case, smart direct marketers realize that one is the most dangerous number in business, and that rule applies here as well.

Step 2: Join.  Become a member, get to know other members and executives, what their concerns and interests are, how things work, maybe even begin to look for opportunities to fill a void you may observe.  Be a giver.  Come in, not looking for what you can get, but with an open hand.  You are a valuable resource, so demonstrate that by helping.  Besides making your time there more enjoyable, it builds a feeling about you that you are someone who can really help the organization and it’s members.

Step 3: Develop or emphasize a specialty rather than a general service you can offer, particularly one that may be of particular interest to members. If you are a CPA in a cab driver’s association, for instance, maybe you could  offer free consultations on tax efficient ways to report tip income.

Step 4: Once you are seen as a valued member and become steeped in the culture of the organization, see if you can find a way to offer a unique service of value to members that only you can provide.  Collaborate with association executives to develop your idea.  Often, they are looking for ways to add value to the membership and will be glad to consider putting something together with you, especially if you are willing to do all the legwork.

Step 5: Fulfill and Satisfy.  Once your program is in place, follow up with members who participate to make sure they’re getting the value they expected.  Use feedback to enhance the program, and make it easy for members to provide testimonials and send referrals.

None of this is rocket science, but it does require some thought, preparation and key to this strategy, patience.  The benefit is, once you get a program like this in place, inertia tends to keep it there for a long, long time with minimal further effort on your part.

And that dependable and relatively passive stream of income month after month, year after year can add significant equity to your business. To be sure, this is more a tortoise than a hare strategy, but we all know who the winner was in that contest.

You can find the book on Amazon and get a copy of the recording here: customerattractionstrategies.com/association-shortcut/.

To your wildest success,

Mike Connolly

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