Human-Centric Marketing for Associations

Amy Thomasson
December 03, 2020

Marketing often gets a bad rap. Most people would say marketing is the act of promoting products or services with an endgame of closing the sale. But the truth is, good marketing is about so much more than a singular transaction. It’s about building and maintaining customer and member relationships. Successful marketing initiatives are human centered.

What does this mean? Human-centric marketing is about pivoting your focus toward fostering relationships with your members and turning efforts toward member retention rather than solely focusing on accumulating one more notch in your member count! In the wave of digitization, the importance of building real-human relationships with our members has gotten lost. 

At Affinity Strategies, we’ve begun to put human-centric marketing at the forefront of all our campaigns, and we’re starting to see significant results. Here are just a few of the initiatives I’ve partnered with marketing teams on took on to get the ball rolling.

Create Member-Focused Content
Replace your stock photos with photos of your members.

Your marketing should be as real and reflective of your audience as the content itself that you are promoting. If you wouldn’t take an out-of-the-box program and paste your organization’s name on it, then you shouldn’t take a $229 stock image subscription and call that representative of your community. Most professional associations have been created by members for members, and those members want to see themselves (and people like them) on your website, in your brochures, and emails. Whether you’re buying a used car or the Cadillac of meeting experiences, you want to know who has been on the ride before you.

Interview members and tell their stories

According to Nielsen’s “Trust in Advertising” report, 84% of consumers trust peer recommendations more than any other form of advertising. So, if we know the ROI is there and we know we have access to a unique pool of insights and perspectives through our member community, then why are we not better storytellers?

A key strategic marketing initiative I’ve utilized is to share more user-generated content (UGC) in the form of video testimonials. Whether it’s due to perceived barriers of cost, technology, or geographic disbursement, many organizations have held back on adding video to their toolkits. However, these barriers can be overcome with a simple UGC video marketing program. In fact, not every video needs to be highly stylized or produced. A 30-second testimonial shot via an iPhone or other portable recording device can lend trust and credibility when paired with the right application.

Make key volunteers your organizational ambassadors

Who better to share your organization’s mission, story, and offering then those intimately familiar with the industry you serve? Your association’s members are your greatest content experts, market forecasters, and lead generators. While supervising a constantly changing cast of volunteers is challenging enough without adding promotions to their list of duties, it is possible to strategically leverage core volunteers to add a personal touch to your organization’s messaging.