Tip of the Iceberg: Your Guide to Finding More Non-Dues Revenue

by Dani Mihalic

In today’s market, it’s imperative to recognize your unique non-dues revenue opportunities. Similar to many of your peers, your association probably has many traditional revenue generators in place, but we have a few secret tips to help you expand your print and digital ecosystem, provide extras at your events, and offer sponsored content that will help boost your profitability. These types of revenue generators require the least amount of time and money to get started and have the potential to earn you the most money! We want to help you look past the tip of the iceberg to find some areas you might not have thought to incorporate into your NDR stream. 

EXPAND YOUR PRINT AND DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM

You can grow your non-dues revenue by expanding your existing print and digital ecosystems with the implementation of marketplaces or special sections in your publications, adding email sponsors, and incorporating programmatic advertising or retargeting campaigns.

  1. Special Sections/ Direct Mail In Print 

A special section in your association’s publication could be related to the content of the issue – like a destination marketplace inside a meetings professional magazine, or a specific field or area of interest, like a regional guide separated by regions in the country. These can be particularly beneficial if offered as a downsizing option for advertisers who don’t have the budget for display advertising or if used as incremental advertisements toward the end of your sales cycle.  Most organizations have brochures, pamphlets and fliers they use throughout the year to highlight their products and services. Covid shook the association world and being able to sell these sections to advertisers that have very applicable products and services for that specific situation is a great angle for the sales teams and presents timeliness on important information, like new protocols, business hours and so on. Including these pieces inside your upcoming publication is an effective outlet for them to gain exposure in a non-traditional way.

  1. Email Sponsors 

Whether it’s your digital edition, monthly legislative update or other frequent member email announcements, don’t be afraid to offer an exclusive sponsorship inside those communications. Many companies are willing to pay just to have their names on something your association produces. 

Some ways you can include email sponsors: 

  • “Sponsored by…” at the top of any email 
  • Display ad at the end of any email 
  • Advertorial-type email 
  1. Consider Artificial Intelligence 

Artificial intelligence (AI) can collect and quickly analyze mass amounts of data gathered by the behaviors of individual readers and job seekers. This data can reveal important insights into what matters most to your audience. Knowing what subjects are of the highest interest to your members will help you better decide the nature of your future content and job postings. With AI, machine learning software examines preferences over time and curates content and jobs tailored to individuals, while the algorithms curate content or jobs based on user behavior. This escalates member engagement with value-added for members,  increases open rates, click-through rates and visits to your career center. AI can also work for Member Newsletters and Career Center Briefs, as it personalizes the experience for readers and job seekers, reduces staff resources, supplies market insights through readership data and increases engagement in the career center.

  1. Programmatic Advertising and Retargeting 

Studies show that brand awareness through repeat exposure drives purchasing relationships and with Programmatic & Retargeting strategies, you can be omnipresent without having to do anything extreme or technical. 

Programmatic Advertising

Have you ever searched for a pair of shoes, and then the same pair of shoes follow you to the next four websites you visit? That’s an example of programmatic advertising. Programmatic advertising is the use of automation in the buying and selling of online media. Through technology, data is collected on site visitors, allowing advertisements to be sold by each individual impression.

Retargeting

The goal of retargeting is to carve out highly customized audience segments based on the advertisement’s target audience. This helps extend the advertiser’s reach. Retargeting campaigns connect advertisers with your members and site visitors all across the web after leaving your site.

 OFFER SPONSORED CONTENT

Offering sponsored content allows you to create an entirely new revenue stream with your content. There are several ways to advantageously leverage your existing, valuable content that advertisers would love to be a part of.

  1. Print or Digital Advertorials 

Advertorials have to be purchased, and they should be clearly marked as advertising or sponsored content. All content should be approved by you, the association, prior to the sale being finalized. Here’s the most important thing to remember when it comes to advertorials: You control the requirements a supplier must meet to purchase an advertorial. You can set limits on words, cost of actions, URLs, company taglines, graphics, logos and more. Make sure any media kit or sales promotion has a clear outline and the advertorial provides value to your membership. We recommend you also add a disclaimer that your association has the right to alter or edit the content if necessary to meet any requirements previously stated.

  1. Webinar and Educational Content 

Webinars and educational content provide an opportunity to bring in some additional NDR through the sale of sponsorships. The goal is to align your webinar’s content with the appropriate sponsors and look for which sponsor is the best fit for each webinar based on the topic. 

Build out the benefits for your sponsor: 

  • Give them brand exposure.
  • Offer the opportunity to sit in as the webinar’s host.
  • Allow the sponsor to share a little bit about themselves prior to the start of the webinar.
  • Give them a prominent spot in the webinar’s follow-up email. 
  • Provide advertisements in your newsletter or on your website.
  1. Social Media, Podcasts, Video and White Papers

​​Sponsorship posts via social media can be implemented tastefully and provide yet another way to add revenue. You can even promote your articles with your magazines and your newsletters on social media! Advertisers have begun to realize there is a longer shelf life to their ad dollars when they sponsor videos and podcasts.. If you’re producing either of these now, and don’t have sponsorships for them, consider this low-lift option. As long as you have a few months scheduled in advance with speakers and topics, advertisers will often buy the spots at a premium. Additionally, these dollars can be particularly helpful in offsetting some of the costs associated with regularly producing a video or podcast.

CREATE EVENT “EXTRAS”

Your existing events are a great platform to add additional avenues to connect members and non-members while driving more revenue. By adding “extras” to your events, you give members a reason to get more involved while adding extra non-dues revenue streams.

Virtual Events:

  1. Event Upgrades

Leverage your captive audience by upselling items such as t-shirts, DVDs and supplemental literature. Create tiered pricing options for your event, depending on membership levels. This also creates an incentive for non-members to become members! Create a few enticing breakout events that cost an additional fee to attend. You can also use the tiered pricing option here for members versus non-members.

  1. Virtual Career Fairs 

Hosting a virtual career fair gives more flexibility for employers and attendees, and provides options beyond manning a table:

  • Excellent Networking Opportunities 
  • Face-to-Face Meetings 
  • Valuable Connections 
  • Nurturing Relationships

In-Person Events:

  1. Creative Sponsorships

Include ideas that are different, engaging and keep your attendees interested. 

  • Photo booths/headshots 
  • Pop-ups like smoothie bars or ice cream buffets 
  • Wellness breaks/health activities 
  • Interactive activities like scavenger hunts or graffiti boards 
  1. Non-traditional Events

Exchange Events are hosted buyer events where you can bring your buyers and sellers together for a few days at a popular destination. Suppliers pay a fee for a guaranteed number of 20-minute meetings with buyers, and buyers attend for free with airfare and accommodations covered. 

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