It’s fix it time: Making downtime work for associations

by Linda Popky

What do you do when an ongoing pandemic forces you to temporarily shut down your operation?

For a lot of businesses, you use this time to make needed repairs and modifications — to do things you’ve been meaning to attack for a long time but never seemed to be able to get done.

Restaurants and bars are working on those remodeling projects they’ve put off for years. Airlines have started cleaning their planes to get a level of sanitation that probably should have been there all along. The New York City transit system has even been shutting down the system for a couple of hours overnight to clean subway cars — something that was probably decades overdue.

That works well for equipment or a physical plant, but what about associations? What should you fix, repair, or upgrade during this period?

Here are a few things on your marketing “fix it” list you can now take the time to check off:

Clean out old offerings. Go deep into the closet and pull out those programs and services you’ve been keeping around — just in case. If they haven’t been out in public for a year or more, why are they still there? Get rid of them.

Spruce up your website. Time to throw a fresh coat of paint on your website. Update the graphics. Streamline the copy. Make sure all links work correctly. Consider what else you can add to your site that will provide value to your members. While you’re at it, take a critical eye to your social media presence as well.

Remodel your marketing plan. It’s going to be a long, long time before we can have large in-person events again. And it may be just as long before we have the freedom and inclination to travel.

Given that, what are your new marketing goals? What are your plans to retain existing members? How will you attract new ones? What will you do to stay top of mind when you can’t physically be in the same room?

Repair your database. Do you have an up-to-date list of your members? Does this include all the information you need to effectively market to them? Have you deleted old and outdated data?

Sharpen your tools. There’s nothing worse than pulling out a tool when you need it only to find the blade needs sharpening or the handle is loose. Take this time to assess your member management system, e-commerce capabilities, lead management programs, survey and mail tools. Make sure they’re all running as expected. Are there upgrades to implement? Is it time to integrate new capabilities? Do that now, while you can.

Build a new addition to your product line. The world has changed. What kind of new offerings can you create to respond? Go beyond the ubiquitous Zoom meetings and webinars. What other creative ideas do you have to offer services to members who have new — perhaps critical — needs?

Get to know your neighbors a little better. We’re all in this together. How can you work more closely with other organizations or associations? Are there joint programs you can offer? Can you cross-promote each other’s offerings? Can you pass on a contact or resource that might be valuable to them?

Whatever you do, don’t just sit there while others renovate. Make the most of this time to create a more modern, updated marketing program. You’ll feel better about yourself and so will your members.

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