Money & Business

When "Keeping It Real" Goes Right

By / May 22, 2015

Authenticity goes a long way when it comes to your association’s marketing and communication efforts. In fact, it could mean more engaged members and revenue.

Does your organization represent and deliver a true, tell-it-like-it-is approach to how you are communicating with your internal and external publics?

Organizations need to create a distinctive presence that will encourage their audiences to be engaged and motivated to share their experiences in their networks.

If the answer is yes, then it is probably participating in what I like to describe as authentic marketing communication. This method of promotion requires the use of genuine marketing and communication tactics that create imaging and messaging that is complimentary to the organization’s core mission and values.

Because some aspects of traditional marketing can be synthetic and artificial, it is best to employ methods that embody more sincere engagement that help to build relationships and promote the organization’s growth. Here are a few tips on how associations can become more authentic when communicating with their desired audiences.

Be honest. People are very savvy: they know what they want, how to get it, and where to find it. They are not looking to be oversold, and, more importantly, they are appreciative of blunt honesty over a shiny “white lie” any day.

Organizations should not engage in illusive and misleading marketing and communication tactics that massage the truth or that do not properly represent their mission or core values. Instead of creating promotions just for the sake of the sale, whether that’s membership or event registration, associations should be more transparent. This can be done by developing genuine connections with their audiences and distributing candid and open messages that promote the accuracy of facts to support and encourage their integrity.

Be meaningful. It is always better when the intended meaning is conveyed properly. To achieve this, every communication effort must be consistent and direct. Promotions should be created to reflect expressive images and messaging that are significant to what the organization stands for, and more importantly, to what it wants to become. If the organization wants to convey funny and quirky, it should promote that; if the organization is serious and conscious, it should go with that.  However, its communications should always remain consistent with a significant meaning behind the effort.

Be unique. Organizations need to create a distinctive presence that will encourage their audiences to be engaged and motivated to share their experiences in their networks. To execute this, companies must start by not following the template on how to market in their industry.

Instead, they should try something different. This can be done by not going for the obvious, but rather by utilizing creative messaging and imaging (i.e., a play on words, pop-culture reference, or attention-getting images) that allow them to get “out of the box” and to challenge the ordinary. Coloring in the lines is safe, but coloring outside the lines can attract new opportunities.

The principles behind “keeping it real” promote honesty and integrity. After all, it is pivotal for organizations to remain authentic in their promotion efforts in order to facilitate interest and engagement. Associations should utilize marketing and communication tactics that are direct and complementary to their core mission and values in order to stimulate growth.

Remember “keeping it real” wins every time.

How does your association make sure its marketing and communication efforts are authentic?

Learn more about at developing messaging that breaks through the clutter at ASAE’s 2015 Marketing, Membership, & Communication Conference, June 1-2, in Washington, DC.

Sherron Washington, M.A.

Sherron Washington, M.A., is communications manager at the Education Market Association in Silver Spring, Maryland, and a member of ASAE’s Communications Section Council. More »

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