Association Marketers: Is Your Content Speaking to the Right Audience?

As Lee wrote last week, at Rep Cap, we’re obsessed with buyer or audience personas. They’re an essential element of every content marketing strategy, but they’re not the only thing you need to connect with your customers, prospects and other audience members. As a marketer, you should also set goals for your content and continually refer back to your personas to make sure you’re creating and sharing content that will help you meet those goals.

Create a Mini Strategy for Each Audience Persona

Association marketers have several goals:

  • Reach out to non-members and promote the benefits of membership.
  • Share useful information to members.
  • Provide a forum for members to discuss and share ideas.

But if your overall audience is fragmented — as it is for many associations — you need a plan to reach everyone.

Members need content that helps them with their professional pursuits, plus information about fees and membership benefits. But a public policy audience needs something different. “If we go to the public policy audience, then we need an agenda that presents arguments in the best light,” says Jeff Joseph, senior vice president of communications and strategic relationships of the Consumer Electronics Association.

Where Associations Can Go Wrong

In addition to having complex, fragmented audiences, associations typically have vast amounts of information and expertise on hand just waiting to be turned into sharable content. That’s a great thing, but it can also make it easy to go off on a tangent sharing content that doesn’t speak to the right audience — or any audience at all.

For example, at any organization, it’s easiest to motivate team members to write about topics that interest them. At associations — particularly those located in Washington, D.C., or state capitals — there are typically a core of team members who are highly invested in legislation and politics. It’s their job to care about these issues and they’ll tend to find them most interesting. The problem is that’s not always true for their audiences.

Content about politics can put off members who are part of the association for professional development, networking or just staying up to date on the latest industry trends. And for national organizations, content about politics in a specific state can put off the many members who don’t do business in that state.

On the flip side, failing to address policy issues with a public public audience can make it hard to connect with them. And if they really are focused on policy, they probably won’t be interested in content about industry best practices and other topics an association marketing team may be eager to write about.

3 Steps to Ensure Your Association Content is Speaking to the Right Audience

To produce content that works, association marketers should keep these steps in mind:

1. Keep in touch with your audiences.

You can’t just get to know your audiences once when you create personas for them. Audiences are made up of people whose priorities and interests are always evolving. Stay up to date on those priorities and interests by periodically doing surveys, engaging them in social media conversations, talking to them in person at events and monitoring your marketing analytics to see what works.

2. Set goals for each audience.

It’s essential to decide what you want each audience to do or take away after consuming your content. For example, the content you create to get members to register for your annual conference will be different from the content you create to educate the public about your industry, the content you create to convince new members to join and the content you create to get people involved in a policy issue.

3. Check back with your audience personas and goals every time you create or share content.

Before you create or share a new piece of content, you should always check back to see if it aligns with your goals and fits with the audience persona you’re trying to reach. If it doesn’t, even the most interesting content will just be a waste of your team’s time.

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