Lunchtime Links: Win the Battle Against Free Competition

How associations can follow in the newspaper industry's footsteps in the battle with free online content. Also: Is your web presence amounting to your association's mission?

Associations and newspapers have a common foe: free online content. How can associations compete with free, easy-to-access online material?

If your content is merely a commodity that can be found elsewhere and offers no additional value, then you won’t be able to compete with free.

That and more in today’s Lunchtime Links:

Free, but valuable? How can associations attract and retain members when they can get the same information and education they get in conferences for free online? Provide valuable content that they can’t get anywhere else. A blog post from Avectra relates membership issues in associations to the disruption of the newspaper business model. As web publications upstage newspapers with free and quick content, some newspapers like The New York Times have implemented a paywall system, recognizing the value of their content. “If your content is merely a commodity that can be found elsewhere and offers no additional value, then you won’t be able to compete with free,” writes blogger Deirdre Reid, a former association professional.

What’s the return? You probably use social media. And you probably maintain a website. And of course you have an email newsletter. But how do you know if your digital efforts are amounting to something? Digital marketing consultant Marissa Goldsmith and Lynn Labieniec, CEO of Beaconfire Consulting, encourage you to look at the effectiveness of individual web initiatives but stress that to understand the big picture, you have to ask how those initiatives as a whole are supporting the association’s mission. “The mission is the masterpiece. Every facet of a web presence should directly support the mission,” they write in this blog post on NTEN. “You cannot develop an ROI model for any part of your web presence without going directly back to your mission.”

Carpe diem: Ric Elias was on Flight 1549, the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River in New York in January 2009. Actually, he had the first seat in the plane. In a Ted talk from March 2011, he tells the audience the three things that were going through his mind during that life-changing experience. He thought of all the things he had been planning, all the experiences he wanted to have, and made a vow to never postpone anything else in his life. “I regretted the time I wasted on things that did not matter with people that do matter,” he said. After the crash, Elias founded Red Ventures, a marketing services company that grew out of Elias’ long experience in business.

What cool stuff have you been reading today? Let us know in the comments.


Anita Ferrer

By Anita Ferrer

Anita Ferrer is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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