Your association offers a full menu of products designed to attract the advertising and exhibit space of your industry’s suppliers. And, if yours is like many other associations, you sell each of these as separate products, perhaps, you even use different sales staff to sell them. If you think this model is working, think again, because the customers that you sell to want more value than your current structure delivers—and they are getting it from your competitors.
Think of your customers’ needs as being on a time continuum and you have products which are able to meet those specific time-driven goals. Let’s look at an example. A medium size association offers advertising on a number of its products as well as exhibit space at its face-to-face events. Its website is updated daily, it sends out an e-newsletter every Friday, publishes a monthly print magazine and holds an annual convention with exhibits. In reality, what this association has to offer is a variety of combinations of ways that an industry supplier can reach the market represented by the association or professional society.
Rather than selling individual products, your sales staff should be selling the full array of products as a single solution that spans the time continuum. The advertiser can reach the market daily or on a specific day with a web ad, weekly through the e-newsletter, monthly with a print ad, or annually as an exhibitor at the convention. Working with his salesperson, the client can develop a customized marketing strategy for how and when it delivers its message to your association’s membership.
There are many possible permutations of this approach. For instance, an advertiser is planning to announce the launch of a new product tomorrow. He wants to advertise it, but doesn’t want to wait a month until the next issue of your magazine is published, and he doesn’t want his competitors learning about the new product until after it is released. The solution: he should purchase an ad on your organization’s website today, so the market will hear about it tomorrow. As news of the product reaches the customers, he should schedule an ad in the next available issue of your e-newsletter that will not only describe the new product, but also drive traffic to the special area of the company’s website designed to promote it. Finally, once established, he should plan on demonstrating the product as an exhibitor at your next event. The result: this customer’s tactical marketing goals were met through the use of your association’s multiple offerings packaged and sold to him in a way that met his needs.
When you speak to your customers and perspective advertisers, listen to what they are saying. Ask them what the goals are for their advertising and marketing investments and develop a customized and unique plan that meets those goals and expectations. In the end, sales is about delivering value, and by understanding the time continuum of your organization’s offerings, you will be better able to deliver the maximum value being asked of you.
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