What to Consider When Retooling Your Membership Brochure
Associations often use brochures and other digital tools to highlight their benefits and values. But choosing what should be included in these documents isn’t easy. Taking a marketing approach helped the American Dental Education Association reach members and prospects.
When Tom Quash, CAE, came on board as chief communications and marketing officer at the American Dental Education Association in May 2023, ADEA was already looking to revise how it presented its benefits to both members and prospects.
“At that point, the leadership team, the membership department, and the board of directors all had input in the process, and with so many perspectives and without someone in my position, the organization was at a loss about which way to go,” Quash said.
ADEA had decided to revise its membership brochure to make it more inclusive of the community. According to Quash, there was initially a lot of language about “dentistry,” which didn’t encompass the full dental education community.
“Our focus is on oral health education,” Quash said. “We have dental schools that are members, and individual memberships like faculty and students, as well as allied members who aren’t dentists but in the profession like dental technicians or hygienists.”
In November 2023, the association released three versions of its new document, which it called “The ADEA Member Advantage”: a printed trifold brochure, a short digital version, and a longer PDF. And the reviews coming in are positive: Members have told ADEA that the new document is an easy way to demonstrate the value of the organization.
According to Quash, updating your member value proposition document with a marketing mindset can make it succinct, effective, and representative of your community’s scope.
Collaboration and Clarity
Though everyone knew the document needed to change, ADEA stakeholders had different opinions about what to include. Quash recommends finding a balance between listening to colleagues’ perspectives and making sure you don’t put too much into the document.
“You want to be collaborative and involve people who represent different pillars of the association. But that doesn’t mean including all the details. Operating with a marketing lens will help you consolidate and filter the information and ideas,” he said.
The draft Quash initially received was lengthy and detailed, as stakeholders wanted their areas of responsibilities to be featured. Recognizing that the audience wouldn’t take the time to read through all the document’s details, he decided to use the best of the suggestions he received.
“When you’re trying to promote the highlights of your association to anyone outside your membership, you’re likely dealing with short attention spans, so you need to be mindful about hitting your top highlights,” he said. “We needed to show who we are, the work we do, and the benefits we provide.”
For that reason, ADEA’s printed trifold includes key points on the front and back of the document that potential members need to know.
“Even if you don’t have the chance to open it up and read the middle, which has more details, you still have a sense of who we are and what we do, and the most important statements are stated clearly on the front and back,” Quash said.
Adding metrics to your document allows your association to better illustrate the scope of its work and efforts.
“Metrics are key,” Quash said. “The numbers help you qualify and quantify the work you’re doing for members, like how many education events, webinars, and meetings you have each year—or the number of follows on your social media channels. These help readers comprehend the value of their membership.”
When updating its document, ADEA wanted to accurately reflect the universe that it covers, which included both members and those in the oral health profession who aren’t members. To do this, the association outlined the full community of oral healthcare professionals that ADEA represents.
“I think sometimes the universe that an association represents can get lost on people,” Quash said. “There’s a lot of conversation around the number of members you have, but don’t forget those in the community that you represent and advocate for who aren’t members. If members show the document to prospectives, they’ll get to see themselves within your community and see the great work you’re doing for them.”