At Affinity Strategies, one of our six core values is collaboration. This not only holds true for our staff at the company, but also with the relationship between our clients and industry partners. Since this relationship is essential for the success year after year, we are proud to introduce our new Partnership 365 program.
The Partnership 365 model was created to fully engage industry and your association throughout the year. While your conference is one event, this partnership will help identify how you can increase engagement 365 days a year.
Your association’s strategic plan is mission critical to attracting and retaining industry partners. This is why it is essential to ensure your strategic plan has clarity and can be easily delivered by all board members and key stakeholders.
What is your association’s compelling engagement story? Why should industry partner with your association? First, remember why the association was created. Second, think about why you joined, why you wanted to devote time to progressing its goals. That is your passion. This is your compelling engagement story.
I’m a big fan of the three-legged stool. The association needs HCP’s, industry partners and, unfortunately, patients to survive and thrive. Patient centricity is brought about by passionate and dedicated people devoted to research, technology, pharma, techniques, innovation and lifelong learning in the pursuit of patient care and treatment. Identify why industry partners are critical to your association’s success.
Have a Conversation
Next step is to meet with your current and prospective industry partners. What are their strategic plans for this year? Are they rolling out a new product? Did they just acquire a new company? Are they simply hungry for member engagement? What would be a “win” for them? I recommend this call should be 90% listening to what they need and 10% talking about the association’s strategic plans.
After you’ve identified what is mission critical for the industry partner, now brainstorm about the myriad of opportunities to offer and collaborate with your membership. How can you work together to achieve common goals?
Post Covid World – Engagement is Key
Many industry representatives couldn’t walk into healthcare facilities to stop in to say hello, check-in, share product information, educate the team and more. Your industry partner is hungry for engagement. You have an incredible opportunity to feed their soul. You have members they want to meet. How can you make that happen?
Some examples of conference engagement opportunities:
- Close the exhibit hall during the general session. This will show respect to your membership and industry partners. Let your partners know that by attending the general session they will:
- Sit with current clients
- Identify future clients
- Hear the same information that their client is hearing
- Identify opportunities from the Q&A session, and maybe offer advice and counsel during Q&A. “We are working on a product that will….”
- During social engagements ask key stakeholders in your association to find out who industry wants to meet and facilitate introductions.
What Can You Offer? Be Innovative!
You can offer almost anything. Think outside the box! Are they having trouble getting their message across? Offer them some social media posts, newsletter posts and Platinum Plus membership – time in front of the board for 30 minutes.
Industry Partners want to engage, educate and, at the end of the day, convince your membership to purchase or recommend their product offering. How can you help them? Listen to them explain their barriers and come up with a way to create a solution. Be creative!
What Would a Win Look Like?
An industry partner representative feels comfortable enough to go up to a board member and ask if they can introduce them to member. That’s a relationship win!
Industry Partner 365 Prospectus
Remember the prospectus is not just for the conference, rather a partnership prospectus for the entire year.
Instead of showcasing the entry level, reverse the benefit levels so they see the largest first. Highlight the metrics in the prospectus – how many attended; how many were expected; engagement before, during and after the conference. Identify what’s different from last year and other conferences. What are the compelling reasons to attend the conference?
Be sure to:
- Maximize visibility for their brand
- Demonstrate the benefits of your product or service to their targeted audience
- Create substantive interaction with annual meeting attendees throughout the year
- Develop relationships with purchasing decision makers
- Generate new leads to achieve mission critical goals
- List the opportunities for engagement with attendees and key stakeholders. Engagement is key!
As you can see the Partnership 365 offer can bring you ongoing support, innovative ways to connect with industry partners and make them feel a valued part of your conference and beyond. We encourage you to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to upgrade and grow your success year-round.
About the Author:
Rosaleen Tully, Affinity Strategies Director of Industry Relations, has been in the client relationship field for more than 20 years; developing strategies and implementing industry sales and business development to include strategic partnership. She is passionate about cultivating relations with corporate entities to partner associations.