If you want to give association members something they are going to value, make content an important part of your strategy.
This is not a new idea.
- Benjamin Franklin started publishing “Poor Richard’s Almanac” in 1732 because he had a printing business.
- Michelin, part of the tire manufacturing industry, developed its “Michelin Guide” in 1900 to educate people about the restaurants and hotels that were worth a drive. Ándre and Edouard wanted people to wear out their tires so they would have to buy new ones. The guide is still in use today.
- Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, talking about the internet, announced that “Content is king!” more than 20 years ago because he already understood that words would be an important way to make money there. He foresaw that people who could offer well-written, expert content, accompanied by audio and video, would be able to create a highly profitable market for their work.
Associations with the resources to create cohesive, educational, and unbiased content that reflects the needs of its members are already indispensable. However, the way that associations distribute that content is shifting and will probably continue to shift. That makes it necessary for associations to figure out new ways to develop and distribute fresh content that will appeal to their members.
What kind of content do members want?
They want anything that will help them be more effective at whatever it is they do. Joe Pulizzi, who founded the Content Marketing Institute, explains the idea really well: “Never feed salad to a lion.” Create some meat for your lions and give it to them.
- Work to provide content that the audience wants to read, see, or hear and that will have the biggest impact. Think about the current interests and needs of the association’s members. Ask: “Will people be interested in this?” Don’t assume you already know the answer.
- Provide both digital and print content. They complement each other. Don’t forget social media.
- Association members are a resource because of their combined expertise. Ask them to write for the association blog, publications, and website. Not only does their participation create value for the association, it also gives them the opportunity for some great experiences and increased visibility.
- Think about interesting ways of presenting information. Using videos, infographics, photos, webinars, social media posts, podcasts, and so on is more fun than just reading words on a screen. Involving sight and sound can increase the impact of what you create. Xerox Corporation did a study about this in 2014. Researchers discovered that adding color pictures to text made it 80 percent more likely that people would read it.
- People relate to language that is simple and conversational than they do to something more complicated. It’s no accident that writing the kind of content that is a little like a one-on-one conversation is also more fun to create than difficult text.
- Keep in mind what you want potential members to do after they read, see, or hear your content. If you have information that is just for members, let potential members see some of what you have to offer so they can decide whether it would be useful for them.
Content is king, it always has been and always will be. Content is why users visit your site, read your magazines and newsletters, and follow you on social media. Content is the single most important aspect of engagement with your members. Read our guide to content creation and curation. It's free.