The most wonderful time of the year is also the most marketed time of the year.
Airwaves and news feeds alike will be steeped with promotions, product placements, and endorsements until we hit 2017. But amidst the joy and the noise of the season, there are some engagement tactics from the holiday marketer's playbook that associations can learn from. Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Play into consumers' engagement preferences
If we were to equate engagement with holiday shopping, then there is a lot to be said about consumers that prefer to shop in person vs. online. Just as some holiday shoppers love the experience and the rush of shopping at the mall, some of your association members strongly prefer to meet with you and experience their initial engagement in person. On the other hand, others prefer to begin their relationship with you digitally and base their decision on whether to join on their interactions with your association online. Think about the people that are more drawn to Cyber Monday and the types that are more drawn to Black Friday. What makes them tick? Consider these engagement preferences when it comes to your association strategy.
2. Study how top retailers drive traffic
What are top retailers doing to promote deals and drive traffic to their stores (both digital and foot traffic)? Sometimes when you need a little bit of inspiration, holiday advertising, which is rife with inspirational and whimsical messaging, can be a great place to look. By inspiring people to explore their brand and browse their offerings, retailers can create a foothold in the consumer's mind and make an impression. The same tactics can be applied to associations and used as a way to leverage awareness and participation in online communities.
3. Cook up your own hype
Retailers rely on the holiday season for a serious sales boom - a regular and expected cycle that is more or less reliable. While their is no "association season" so to speak, that doesn't mean that you can't create your own hype by establishing a certain day or week of the year in which you hold events, online promotions or member discounts. The impetus is on associations to create their own buzz and rally people around their organization to drive engagement, awareness and membership.
While executing these strategies may be too big an ask for some smaller associations, we still urge you to be opportunistic during the holiday season when people are in hyper-consumption mode. It's a season of big giving and big spending, so use it as a chance to woo potential members by infusing excitement into your mission and making them loyal to your association.