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Marketing Via Membership

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How many organizations have you paid to join? It could be the Chamber of Commerce, a trade or professional organization, an alumni group, or an online networking association.
Many people pay hundreds of dollars per membership to join groups with the hope of increasing their business, and then neglect the most important free marketing resource of all: their member profile.
Here are some tips for you to make the most from your membership profile opportunities: Current contact information.
Have a current photo and a working email and web site.
I can't tell you how often I've found a great profile of someone I want to contact for business only to find that their email address doesn't work and their web site is gone.
It's also nice to have a photo that looks like you do now (not ten years ago) so that at a networking event, you can be recognized.
Benefit and value.
It's not about what you want to sell; it's about what your target audience needs in order to profit during tight times.
Tell them how you'll help them save money or stretch their dollar.
Explain how you can help them do more with less.
Show them you're mission-critical for their success.
Can you provided outsourced services to help them avoid needing to hire staff? Or can you teach them how to do a service in-house they are currently outsourcing in order to save money? These are the hot topics in today's economy.
Uniqueness.
Every organization seems to have overlap in the types of businesses of its members.
You're unlikely to be the only real estate agent, insurance sales person or consultant.
So your profile has to make it clear why you're unique and what you offer that differs from the rest of the pack.
Your target audience.
Don't make the reader guess what types of companies you serve.
Do you specialize in small business solutions? Say so! Work only for large companies? Don't make them guess.
Do you specialize in a particular industry or focus on a specific type of company? Make that clear.
You'll help interested prospects know that you're the best provider for them.
Show, don't tell.
It's easier than ever before to add personality to your profile via web audio or video.
You can post your own thirty-second web video with a Flip camera and a free YouTube membership, and then use the link to include the video in your membership profile.
Audio Acrobat is a very affordable way to create and post web audio greetings, mini-lessons and special offers using any phone line and their web site.
Offer a free sample.
Provide a way for readers to get to know you better by offering them a free download for a white paper, article, research report or tip sheet.
The value of membership profiles goes beyond what you post about yourself.
Learn to use the profiles to find other members who would make great prospects, referral sources or partners.
The trick is not to send out unwanted solicitations.
That means every email needs to be a customized, individual email that reflects that you have genuinely looked that that person's profile and want to talk with them about doing business together.
There has to be mutual value or you're just cold-calling.
The trick is to have in mind how you might be able to help each other via referrals, adding value to a shared customer base, etc.
Ask to set up a time to talk by phone.
In less than 15 minutes, you'll have either been able to secure a new valuable contact or know you can politely move on.
If your organization offers an annual conference, use the member profiles to set up meetings in advance with interesting fellow members.
Remember, since you both belong to the same organization, you already have something in common.
Plan to set up early morning breakfasts or coffee meetings, or late-night connections over a cocktail.
That way, you've already booked appointments before you ever leave home, making your travel investment even more valuable! Remember that your member profile can be updated at any time, so don't let it fall out of date with old information or dated descriptions of what you do.
Change up the information every few months to keep it fresh or target it to current trends and headline topics.
Use these tips to connect via membership profiles and start getting full value out of your association dues!
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