What Can Associations Learn From Corporate Content Marketers?

Looking for new, engaging ways to distribute all that content you’re producing? Take some lessons from the for-profit world. Presenters at this year’s Great Ideas Conference shared several corporate campaigns and strategies that could provide lessons for associations.

Content marketing is nothing new. For the most part, associations are creating loads of content already. The challenge now is determining the best ways to distribute or share it to engage current and future members.

This was the crux of a session at this week’s ASAE Great Ideas Conference led by Jay Daughtry, relationship development manager at Personify; Ray van Hilst, director of client strategy and marketing at Vanguard Technology; Kim Howard, CAE, publisher and director of surveys at the Association of Corporate Counsel; and Frank Fortin, chief digital strategist and communications director at the Massachusetts Medical Society. They all shared examples and lessons from for-profit content marketing strategies.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Dove reaches the next generation of customers. As part of its Campaign for Real Beauty, which features real women (not models) in commercials and print ads, the personal care products brand launched its “Real Beauty Sketches” in 2013. The video—which to date has received more than 62 million views on YouTube—features women describing themselves, often in harsh, critical terms, to a forensic artist who sketches them behind a curtain. The same artist then draws another portrait of the same woman, this time based on the kinder descriptions of a stranger.

The video, along with the wider Real Beauty campaign, is about instilling greater self-esteem not just in women but in young girls as well. In 2004, Dove launched its “Self-Esteem Project,” which partners with organizations such as the Girl Scouts and Boys and Girls Clubs of America to provide resources to help foster greater self-esteem in young girls.

“They’re reaching people who are going to be brand loyal in the next generation,” Howard said. The campaign is a good example for associations looking for ways to reach new, especially younger, audiences.

Air New Zealand flips the standard safety video on its head. How many times have you ignored the in-flight safety video on an airplane? You’ve seen it a million times and probably know to place the oxygen mask on yourself before helping a child.

In late 2012, in conjunction with the release of The Hobbit movie, Air New Zealand created a Middle-earth version of its safety video—a much more enjoyable and attention-grabbing experience.

“It’s unexpected. It’s creative,” Daughtry said. “There are moments when they’re actually making fun of themselves. They’re making fun of the movie, of the airline. They’re not taking themselves so seriously.”

While most associations don’t have the resources to pull off a video of this caliber, there are lessons in its entertainment, or “edutainment,” value. All the same safety information was there, Daughtry said, but most people will retain it far better when it’s conveyed in a creative way.

Do you have content that is somewhat standard, if not rote, that you could instill a little fun into?

Charbroil commits to staying in touch. A grill is not something you buy on the regular, said van Hilst. But one grill manufacturer, Charbroil, works to keep its customers engaged between purchases.

“I get weekly email newsletters from them,” van Hilst said. “This week, I got ‘How to clean your grill for spring.’ I’m not going to be buying a grill anytime soon, but it’s a good way to keep you engaged.”

Charbroil also sends out recipes and grilling tips. Around Thanksgiving, the company created an infographic with information and facts for grilling turkeys. Charbroil is creating content around its core product to keep itself top-of-mind among customers when they go to buy their next grill.

Have any other examples associations can take from corporate content marketers? Let us know in the comments.

Air New Zealand's "Hobbit"-riffing safety video was a big hit with YouTube viewers. (YouTube screenshot)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!