Marketing for associations isn't an exact science, but there are some best practices you should follow. Unfortunately, marketing myths spread like wildfire, making it a little more difficult to put together a winning association marketing strategy. We've debunked some of the most common marketing misconceptions below, giving you the information you need to reach your organization's goals.

1. Advertising is the only marketing method you need

Newspaper, magazine, and television advertisements have their place in association marketing, but it's a mistake to rely on them exclusively. Business leaders spend up to 24% of their time checking email, demonstrating the importance of using email marketing and other digital marketing tactics to reach members of your target audience.

Content marketing is especially helpful, as it illustrates your organization's expertise and makes it easier to highlight the benefits of membership. The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association is just one example of a B2B association using content marketing successfully. The IFMA's website is stocked with white papers, educational materials, and tools to show prospective members the value of joining.

2. Social media doesn't work for professional associations

One of the most common myths about social media is that it only works for promoting consumer-facing products and services. The truth is that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks are highly effective platforms for promoting B2B associations. Marketing via social media allows you to deliver better service, position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, improve your search engine rankings, and increase audience engagement.

The National Association of REALTORS® uses Facebook to share industry news, announce upcoming events, and promote the benefits of membership. As of June 2023, the organization's Facebook page has 877,000 followers, confirming that social media works well as part of a comprehensive association marketing strategy. You'd have to run a lot of newspaper advertisements to get the same reach that social media offers at a fraction of the cost.

3. The more money you spend, the better your results will be

Marketing for associations involves both free and paid tactics, but many people make the mistake of thinking that increasing spending automatically leads to a boost in new enrollments or renewals. That's not always the case. For example, if you have an in-house copywriter, you can publish high-converting website content at a relatively low cost. That content could help you generate more leads than an expensive television commercial or direct mail campaign.

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors produced a video drawing attention to its role as an expert source for The Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports, and other reputable publications. Since 2012, the video has attracted fewer than 900 views.

Although NAPFA doesn't share website traffic data, the organization's website is one of the top results for searches related to personal financial advising. This just goes to show that you don't have to spend a lot of money on slick advertising methods if your marketing team is staffed with skilled writers and graphic designers.

4. You don't need to use offline marketing methods

You've probably heard the phrase, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." That's an important reminder for anyone involved in marketing for associations. Just because one marketing method is successful doesn't mean you shouldn't experiment with others. If one method stops working, you'll be able to continue attracting new members and improving your organization's retention rate.

The International Dairy Foods Association is a good example of a B2B association with a comprehensive marketing strategy. A search for IDFA on YouTube brings up a channel with nearly 300 videos on topics relevant to companies in the dairy industry. These videos highlight IDFA members, announce upcoming events, and educate members about current trends in the industry.

IDFA also has a well-designed website with plenty of information to help visitors understand the benefits associated with membership. Journalists can use the IDFA newsroom to generate ideas for dairy-related news stories. Finally, IDFA has several campaigns designed to showcase the economic impact of the dairy industry on consumers and other businesses. Like IDFA, all association management professionals should use a variety of marketing tactics to reach as many prospects as possible.

5. Associations can't benefit from creating their own mobile apps

When you think of mobile apps, maybe you think of playing Words With Friends or using your smartphone to check your email. For B2B associations, mobile apps are so much more than games and productivity tools. They represent an opportunity to connect with audience members, keep them engaged, and increase the value of membership in your organization.

For example, the National Association of Manufacturers has an app called NAM Meetings. The app has dynamic maps, event schedules, directories, and other tools to help attendees get more out of each NAM event. Users can also access an event-related social timeline, making it easier to keep track of industry contacts.

Now that you know how important it is to use a variety of marketing methods, it's time to establish your organization as a source of thought leadership. Learn more about using branded newsletters to deliver personalized member content.