Piggybacking Off a More Established Brand

The American Copy Editors Society forged a partnership with Poynter several years ago to fill a member need, but ACES also sought to leverage Poynter’s esteemed brand in order to increase the recognition of its own.

When my husband’s grandfather settled on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, in the late 1960s, he didn’t have a lot of money. What he did have was some bad teeth and some good horses. In hopes of fixing his sore mouth, he made a trip to the local dentist and got some troubling news. He needed dentures—a full set of them. But he didn’t have the cash to pay for them, but then again he did have those horses. So, my husband’s grandfather proposed a trade, and that’s how the dentist came to own a good horse, and my husband’s grandfather came to own a good set of dentures.

Believe it or not, that’s a true story. Amazing, isn’t it? It shows the resourcefulness and keen business acumen of my husband’s grandfather, who later helmed his own successful local business in downtown Nashville.

But the idea of trading goods for services—and vice versa—is not as old-fashioned as it might seem. It’s still being done these days, even in the association world.

For instance, last week the American Copy Editors Society announced the launch of a new training program, in partnership with Poynter. It’s the latest of several dozens of courses that ACES and Poynter have developed since their partnership began in 2013.

Teresa Schmedding, ACES president, said that the society had long been talking about developing some training courses for its members.

For us, it’s great brand recognition, it’s raising our profile, and it’s capturing new members.—Teresa Schmedding

“The more we got into it, the more we realized that our expertise was in editing,” Schmedding said. “It wasn’t in technical platforms or doing these types of things. And Poynter has all the expertise of doing online learning, so it was natural for us who have the expertise in editing training and Poynter who has expertise in online training to marry those two together to meet the needs for more online editing training.”

So, that’s what the group did. ACES would get Poynter’s technical platform and digital training know-how, and Poynter would get the revenue generated from enrollments. Another benefit ACES derived from the partnership was the ability to piggyback off the established, respected Poynter brand.

“The biggest benefit we were looking for from [the partnership] was brand recognition for our organization,” Schmedding said. “We’re just 20 years old, so we’re not really as entrenched in the [association] world as others.”

So, when Poynter sends out an email blast to its large, established list to publicize courses, some of which have the ACES logo, that’s good brand recognition. She also said that the partnership drives new member growth since members will get their membership fee back in the discounts for Poynter courses.

So, even without a direct-revenue stream, ACES gets a good deal for its trade.

“For us, it’s great brand recognition, it’s raising our profile, and it’s capturing new members,” Schmedding said.

What kinds of business partnerships or trades is your association doing?


Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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