The difference between
success and failure, more often than not, is a very slim margin. We
see this "Principle of the Slight Edge" demonstrated constantly in sports;
it's the horse race that's won by a nose, or the Olympic medals separated
by tenths, sometimes thousandths of a second.
Like the woodcutter
who stops occasionally to sharpen his axe, successful people are constantly
on the lookout for opportunities to sharpen their competitive edge.
Association members attend your meetings and read your newsletters to
sharpen their skills, and gain the competitive high ground.
People join associations
for one of three reasons:
1) Social - they want to maintain friendships and influences that may
have taken years to build;
2) Promotional - they want to offer their own products or services to
others in the industry in a cost effective and positive way;
3) Educational - they want to see what competition is up to, and find
out about the latest developments within the industry.
During the recession,
many associations have been scaling down, cutting back, and laying low.
While others are bemoaning their losses, guerrilla marketers are recognizing
the opportunity to help their members at a time when they need it the
most. By creating opportunities to "sharpen their edge," associations
can protect their members from the effects of the recession, and can
actually grow through it.
can launch a guerrilla assault on the recession in your industry. For
example, revenues are down, so companies cut back on sales training
because it's perceived to be a discretionary expense. The truth is,
when sales are slow, it's even more important to beef up sales training.
You can capitalize on this trend by offering professional regional training
programs to members who are no longer doing them in-house.
Expanding your programming
effort may be easier than you think. Guerrilla marketers use time, energy
and imagination. Here is how to put them to best use: Call the National
Speakers Association at 602-265-1001. Their directory, Who's Who in
Public Speaking, is free for the asking. Ask for information about a
chapter in your area. You may have an international celebrity living
right in your neighborhood. Offer local speakers an opportunity to showcase
their skills and products before your membership. Since the most popular
national speakers book their calendars months in advance, offer to set
up a program on short notice, when a date is available, at less than
their normal fees.
Send letters to
the 25 most respected authorities in your industry. Ask for a copy of
their calendar for the coming year and invite them to do special events
around their availability. These could be full-day seminars, evening
round table workshops, breakfast meetings, or informal lunch discussions.
Make the rounds
at your next national convention. Invite the most prominent people attending
to conduct a program for your chapter whenever their travels bring them
to your area. You may be able to fill your meeting schedule for the
entire year. Consultants who normally charge mega-buck fees will often
gladly share with peers.
Concentrate on hard
content. Topics like "Color Analysis" and "How to Reduce Stress" make
nice filler for otherwise social or networking meetings. Guerrillas
add value by focusing on sales, marketing, and management related skills
that contribute to the member's bottom line. The speakers, seminars,
and clinics you offer are more than just "membership services." By offering
a busy program schedule, you can substantially increase the perceived
value of belonging to your association. The result: easier retention,
renewal, and recruiting.
Sharp program managers
are running their seminars as profit centers, and professional support
is free for the asking. Work with a consulting firm that will help you
plan and promote a special event or series. Some will even contract
on a gain-share basis to minimize your financial risk. Not only do you
recover the speakers' fees and expenses, but can turn a substantial
profit. A properly organized one-day program can earn thousands of dollars
for your treasury.
Put on a first-class
event. Hire leading authorities and nationally recognized experts, authors
or consultants, but emphasize the content of the program rather than
the personality of the presenter. Use the best hotel. Serve the best
food. Then charge a reasonable price. People will gladly pay $50 to
$100 a day for a quality seminar packed with useful information. Too
often, associations try to get by on the cheap, and attendance fails
because the low price diminishes the perceived value. An upper level
manager or sales executive can't justify spending a whole day to attend
a $20 seminar. And by developing a reputation for quality, your next
event is more likely to be a sell-out.
Use guerrilla marketing
weapons to get the word out. Introduce the speaker to your members by
having them write a feature article for your newsletter, or play a video
clip of them in action at a regular meeting. The hottest direct mail
medium today is the postcard. Print them four-up on an 8 1/2 x 11 page,
using florescent yellow or bright pink card stock for maximum visibility.
Trimmed to 4 1/4 x 5 1/2, they can be mailed first class for only nineteen
cents, but they're still big enough to announce a special event or summarize
a month's calendar.
So much for the
Recession. Like General Washington, leading his troops across the Delaware
at dawn, you can gain a great marketing victory. Take the initiative
by striking now, in the dead of winter, while everyone else is hibernating.