At first, the evangelists spread the good news, and a few eager souls experimented. Early adopters followed their example, and soon, the growth from seed concept to mainstream was amazingly rapid – three or four years, depending on how you count.
At each stage, there were successes, failures, and lessons learned. Most of us are continually refining our objectives, strategies and technologies. And we’re learning from each other, which is absolutely AWESOME. As somebody said at an ASAE Annual session in Chicago, we’re all figuring this out together.
For every association, every community, and every audience, the details of the answer will be different. Each of our communities has different inclinations, biases and preferences. There are great limitations to what we can crib from each other. But there are some universal principles, I think.
- There is no magic pill, and no killer app. No single channel will get every job done.
- Nothing goes away; every tool has value. This is a corollary to #1. I used to think that perhaps fax was an exception to this principle, but if you’ve recently bought property or had a major medical engagement, you can’t avoid the fax.
- They all have to work together. Each of our tools can, and must, work together. Remember that our members and audiences don’t relate to us through our technologies, but through the experience we provide them. So our platforms and channels must support the same brand proposition.
- The marketing funnel is still relevant. It’s evolved some, but it’s still relevant. I think marketers’ biggest mistakes occur when we apply the wrong tools to the wrong parts of the funnel.
- Know thy communities. Unfortunately, there is no short cut to obsessively learning about your members and your members’ communities. Your community of engineers acts very differently from my community of doctors. Even different communities of doctors have differences.
- Experiment and learn – quickly and cheaply. An old principle, but it still applies. There’s still no playbook, no “Ogilvy on Advertising” to rely on. We’re collectively writing today’s equivalent of that book as we go along.
- Communicate to your outposts, and bring them back home. Our members are playing all over the digital landscape. Find them, and show them the way back to your website and your blog.
- Prioritize and focus. You can’t do everything well, so don’t even try. Your member research should tell you where to focus.
- Measure, measure, measure. It’s the only way you’ll know if you’re succeeding.
- Warning: This WILL disrupt your business. This project will make silos teeter, and encroach on long-existent turf. Be prepared to deal with this. Do it well, and it will be an exhilarating experience!
My colleagues Jaime Nolan, Nan Dawkins and I will discuss these and other issues at our Learning Lab at the ASAE Annual Meeting this coming Sunday, at 1:30 p.m.
Our combined handouts are here. (.pdf)