Association event planners put their heart and soul into developing and executing the perfect annual event for their members. However, with the outbreak of COVID-19, all their hard work came to a halt and they either needed to cancel altogether, or they had to quickly transition plans to a virtual format.
Switching from in-person to virtual events leaves a huge gap in budgets for event planners, since virtual events cost far less to execute, but also may not bring in the non-dues revenue they planned for. So, how are you supposed to redistribute your event budget without sacrificing non-dues revenue? Here are three ideas to get you started.
1. Upgrade Association Technology
In order for your association to thrive and continue providing resources for your members, it’s important to keep up with the latest association technology.
Although you won’t see direct non-dues revenue generation, you’ll want to look into upgrading your association management software (AMS). Your AMS is critical to the success of your organization since it hosts all your member data that affects how you use other platforms, what content to provide and what marketing strategies to use next. When you have the best information available, you’ll be able to make informed decisions that will generate greater non-dues revenue numbers.
The other upgrades you’ll want to invest in are your member benefits and resources. Since your members are motivated by career advancement opportunities, you’ll want to upgrade your learning management system (LMS), online job board, or any other career development resources you provide.
For your LMS, update your selection with the latest online courses and certifications that fit with your members industry and job titles. The better opportunities you provide, the more registrations you’ll receive, and your non-dues revenue will increase.
If you host an online job board, you’ll want to make sure it has all the bells and whistles for the best user experience. Some upgrades to consider are single sign-on (SSO), email newsletters with the latest job opportunities, and strategic partnerships with employers and your vendor to maximize revenue.
After upgrading your current technology, you could also consider adding new platforms. Since your members are career driven, you can offer a career pathing software that helps members map out their career progression and determine which skills and certifications they need to advance to the next level. Once members know the track they want to be on, they can easily register for courses and training required through your LMS, ultimately increasing your revenue.
2. Host Micro-Events
In addition to online courses and certifications for career advancement, your members are also looking for networking opportunities. A great way to provide networking opportunities is through micro-events like roundtable discussions and lunch and learns.
Roundtables allows your members to pick a topic that interests them, and discuss with colleagues. It’s a great opportunity to foster creativity, networking and open-minded discussions. Especially now, your members have a lot of questions and are looking for answers to guide them in the right direction.
After hosting a few roundtable discussions, you can use those ideas and turn them into a lunch and learn. For example, if your members are interested in using social media to connect with industry professionals, but aren’t sure how to start, you could invite a social media guru to talk about best practices, how to update their profiles to professional standards and how to build a following.
To generate non-dues revenue, you can charge a registration fee, since these are smaller versions of your annual events content.
3. Invest in Marketing Strategies
Marketing your association and your content plays a key role in increasing non-dues revenue. There are two main components to executing effective marketing campaigns: social media marketing and email marketing.
Social media is the easiest way to reach large audiences outside of your members. If you’re hosting a micro-event, you can use social media advertising to target specific audiences from different geographical locations, re-target profile visitors and those who have searched for related content. Facebook Ads and Google Ads are among the most used social media marketing platforms that help organizations reach specific audiences and increase registrations for a small budget investment.
Email marketing is going to be your best friend when it comes to marketing events and content to your members or subscribers. One of the biggest benefits email marketing offers is the ability to personalize email content to the receiver. This is where your AMS helps out immensely. You can see what content the visitors have clicked on, downloaded and attended in the past, which allows you to send promotional emails that are tailored to their interests.
For example, if you noticed one of your members viewed your blog post on how to become a more marketable candidate, you could invite them to attend your lunch and learn about the best certification courses or training to enroll in that will set them apart from other candidates in their industry.
Now is the perfect time to get creative and discover new ways to redistribute your events budget. These three ideas are a good start to your planning process and can help you identify different ways to increase non-dues revenue. There is no limit to what you can do since every association offers different content and resources for members – just make sure it’s what your members are looking for!