One Tweak to Make to Your Sales Cycle in 2018

JP Moery


Every year, I take a good look at my sales approach with client prospects – what’s working great and what’s not. During 2017, I was losing momentum at the proposal stage, which really shouldn’t be the case at all. Once the proposal is out, we really should be at a point of confirming scope, pricing and overcoming objections for final agreement.

However, it wasn’t the case.  I was losing momentum after sending the proposal, even having some prospects “go dark” for long periods of time.

Looking back, I was working so hard to develop the proposal and so relieved it was done – I’d do a quick review and hit “send” to the prospect just to show activity and speed.  That way of thinking was not serving me well.

Here’s the tweak: 

Step 1: Complete the proposal.

Step 2: Send a note and a calendar invitation saying, “Hey, I’m very excited about the proposal. I can’t wait to go over it with you. Here’s a calendar invitation to discuss it for 15 minutes.”

This strategy enables you to really determine, first – if they are wasting your time (hopefully, not) and serious about considering your offer; but secondly, it ensures you have a defined environment to review the scope ; answer any questions; hear any objections to cost, and understand the steps in the sales process.

This approach maintains control and is particularly important if you’re in a shoot-out with someone else because you have a defined time to address any objections or competitive issues.

And, hey if they don’t respond to your calendar invite or decide they don’t want to proceed, they don’t get the proposal. It’s the ‘scarcity ploy’ – you won’t get the information or even know how much the service costs until you set up the time to go over it with me.

This approach will give you a distinct advantage in 2018.

For more advice on sales strategy and business development, schedule a complimentary 15- to 30-minute call to discuss association growth or any other pressing challenges.

Creating a Real Win-Win: Opportunities for Associations to Help Sponsors Become Thought Leaders

by JP Moery and Bob Buday


Every association CEO’s No. 1 job is helping members be successful, whether they are companies banding together in a trade group or individuals convening in a professional society. As such, many association leaders are often asked to guard the sanctity of their members against heavy-handed sales tactics of vendors and sponsors. They keep sponsors on the sidelines at their conferences, relegate them to the advertising (not the editorial) pages of their publications, and block them out of planning those and other key association programs.

That’s understandable, and laudable when sponsor demands threaten an association’s integrity. But it’s also increasingly shortsighted and fundamentally misses a tremendous opportunity. Keeping vendor members on the sidelines is a black-and-white stance that precludes associations from fully tapping the expertise of sponsors and vendor members. If your vendors’ expertise is developed, packaged and presented in educational (not blatantly self-promotional) ways, it can be extremely helpful to your mainstream association members.

Doing that means helping association sponsors and vendors to be viewed as thought leaders –i.e., as experts in their domains who can help members solve pressing business problems.

While such expertise can be valuable to many association members, it can also provide associations with a new revenue opportunity that most haven’t tapped: providing services that turn vendors into thought leaders. Becoming a popular thought leader (as Bob’s company has found with professional services industry clients) doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t occur by simply telling people to write articles, speeches, books, and blog posts.

People and firms with knowledge become recognized thought leaders only after extensive efforts to codify, package and display their expertise. It happens only after they capture the impact of their expertise on customers (to prove its value), when they can explain their expertise in language the target audience can understand, and when they take it to market through speaking presentations, white papers, blog posts, research reports, books and other educational formats that don’t appear at all to be marketing.

We believe that turning vendors into thought leaders is a major opportunity for associations. Because they historically have played a crucial middleman between members and sponsors, associations have a unique chance to turn their sponsors into thought leaders. That, in and of itself, could be a sizable revenue opportunity for associations because they are well-positioned to offer such services to sponsors, for three reasons:

  1. Associations are highly trusted by their members. They act in their members’ best interests and advocate for them. Thus, when associations open their channels to sponsors that the associations have helped turn into thought leaders, those sponsors become strongly connected to associations and to their member constituencies.
  2. Associations provide the means for effective research focus groups: Sponsors can get quick feedback on their messages from a select group of association members, which allows those sponsors to make rapid and necessary refinements before going mainstream with those messages.
  3. Associations enable sponsors to present their expertise in the most effective channels for thought leadership marketing: conference and seminar presentations. Bloom Group’s 10 years of research on the effectiveness of thought leadership marketing channels consistently shows that conference presentations are the best way to generate leads and market awareness for a firm’s expertise. Close behind are editorial publications, which many associations also issue to members. What’s more, the development of live streaming and broadcast presentations provide even more channels to deliver vendor thought leadership content to members who can’t attend an association event.


Associations that turn their sponsors into thought leaders generate value for both members and sponsors. They give sponsors speaking slots of conferences because they know their insightful speeches will go over well. They give vendors editorial opportunities in their publications because their articles provide big insights and useful case studies.  And they permit vendors to show off their expertise in other association programs because they know members will welcome it.

However, the assistance an association provides to vendors to become thought leaders must be the starting point. Associations with programs to do this can transform sponsors’ sales pitches into valuable educational advice for association members on how to solve their business problems. Vendor conference presentations, briefings, articles and sales meetings shift from blatant sales pitches that turn off members into educational content that appeals to members who are hungry to learn from their peers.

Associations that don’t do this are leaving big money on the table: preventing sponsors from becoming thought leaders to their members. We fully understand the reluctance of association CEOs and their teams. But we also believe that there are effective ways to satisfy both side’s goals – your members’ interests in learning, not being pitched, and your sponsors’ need to communicate their value to your members. One goal doesn’t necessarily have to be in opposition to the other.

Let’s examine the opportunities for associations that can turn sponsors into thought leaders – opportunities for your members, your sponsors, and your association.

The Historical Member-Sponsor Divide

The best member-driven associations have historically resisted pressures from companies that sell products and services to their members even if those companies are paying big fees as vendor sponsors. JP knows from his experience in leadership positions at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Trucking Associations, and from his work at The Moery Company. Perhaps afraid of appearing weak, many association leaders have created hard-and-fast rules about how vendor members can play:


  • Confining them to the exhibit hall booths
  • Barring them from serving on the conference committee
  • Preventing them from taking key speaking roles at high-profile, and even very targeted, conferences
  • Keeping them out of association publications other than to advertise
  • Or even worse, limiting their participation as a member altogether

The most frequent request by vendors of association leaders is getting speaking roles at conferences. This is frequently rejected by associations, which seem shackled by their perception of vendor presentations as pure sales pitches. Indeed, association leaders who cave into such demands can begin a slippery downward slope with vendor members calling the shots and dictating an association’s programming. If you don’t help vendors turn their pitches into thoughtful content, you will become the forum everyone wants to avoid. Sponsors will come to the podium and make presentations that are totally tone deaf to the objectives and cues of the meeting.  JP has seen them … hell, he’s been forced to put them on the agenda!

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You shouldn’t allow vendors to pitch their offerings in conference presentations. That reflects poor event planning. However, if an association can work with vendors on their presentations and make them highly educational about some problem of members and a better way to solve it, those presentations are likely to be met favorably by members.

Think of it another way: Associations are willing to pay premiums – tens of thousands of dollars – to name-brand speakers who don’t have a clue about an association’s industry and the way it works – just to avoid having the companies that are closest to them (which include vendors) participate. That doesn’t make sense.

Why Vendor Pressures are Unlikely to Recede

If you believe that globalization, Internet competitors, and institutional investor pressures will only increase in the years ahead, then you should also assume that vendor sponsors will place increasing demands on associations to get in front of their members.

That only makes sense. Sponsors recognize the importance of associations, especially in B2B sectors, as a key channel to sell their products and services.

Many B2B companies – both product and service firms – recognize the need to sell not only their offerings but also to communicate the expertise they’ve collected about their offerings: i.e., the customer problems their offerings address. There’s no better evidence of this trend than how B2B companies have embraced of “The Challenger Sale” concept. The concept came out of research from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), now part of research powerhouse Gartner. The first book in their series was a bestseller. CEB studied hundreds of B2B salespeople through the eyes of their sales managers and compared the most effective salespeople to the average performers. The key trait of the best salespeople was their ability to challenge the customer’s view of his problem – to redefine the problem, and then offer their firm’s unique solution to it.

The Challenger Sale concept calls for B2B salespeople to be considered industry thought leaders by customers, not as salespeople who focus on product features and benefits. In this light, it’s no surprise that many association sponsors want to be viewed by members as thought leaders at association events and in association publications. We believe this helps explain why so many association leaders are getting pressured by sponsors to play bigger roles in their programs.

But we also believe the best way for association leaders to deal with it is not to oppose it, but to actually welcome it – they can create a win-win-win for their members, the sponsors, and the association.

JP once spoke with one of the world’s largest and best-known companies. The only association programs this company supports are those in which its people are permitted to deliver thought leadership content to high-ranking executives. That is their only game. If associations don’t grasp that idea, the potential sponsorship revenue will walk.

The result of placing such restrictions on vendors? They will run their own meetings or events in your venue, gathering and hosting at the hotel bar. Don’t be mistaken: They will fill the void you are creating by not providing a solution to their business objectives. Far better to help vendors become thought leaders through your help and your programs.

The question more and more for association leaders is not whether they can help sponsors turn into thought leaders, but how – and how to profit from it. In the following section, we’ll discuss how to do so.

Turning Vendors into Thought Leaders

From Bloom Group’s work over the last 20 years in turning B2B companies into recognized thought leaders (especially professional services firms such as consultancies, IT services, accounting, architecture and law firms), we see five foundational elements for associations that want to do the same for their vendor members.

  1. Help vendors create a thought leadership strategy to determine where to focus content development and marketing resources. Such a strategy will identify which problems of association members a vendor wants its thought leadership marketing campaigns to focus on over the next 12 to 18 months – i.e., which topics (which are big problems of association members) it wants to “own” and shed light on. For example, a manufacturer of construction equipment and an association of construction equipment users might decide there are two topics for that manufacturer to cover in its thought leadership campaigns: construction site safety and theft. Thought leadership campaigns are far more effective when they drill deep on an issue and shed new light on it, and when the presentations, articles, blog posts, research reports and other content formats all focus on the same issue(s). That helps association members gain deeper knowledge from the vendor than if that vendor covered 12 topics superficially in a year.
  1. Set quality standards so that vendor presentations, articles, research studies, blog posts and other content are useful and insightful for members. Bloom Group’s research has found that the most successful practitioners of thought leadership create content that excels at eight criteria: novelty, relevance, depth, evidence, coherence, practicality, rigor and clarity. The exceptional insights their content offers (articles, research studies, conference presentations, books and other thought leadership formats) are a big reason why they generate leads and revenue from thought leadership that far exceeds the investment in content and marketing.
  1. Help vendors codify, develop and capture their thought leadership content in speeches, articles and other writings and presentations through a structured process. Bloom Group has found that the core skills to do this – idea development and writing – don’t exist at the quality levels that they need to be in most B2B companies outside of the largest consulting firms (e.g., McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group). (And even those firms tap outsiders for those skills). Exceptional thought leadership content development skills are rare today. Associations that want to play in the game of turning sponsors into thought leaders must tap into those with the skills (or hire them outright). Additionally, since association members love hearing about best practices from their peers, vendors need to help their best customers capture their best practices in using their products. The most believable conference presentations are best-practice case studies by a vendor’s happiest customers.
  1. Determine the optimal marketing mix of thought leadership content for the vendor to use in the association’s programs (and outside of the association’s programs if a vendor asks for that advice) – and, then help execute it. For example, thought leaders are better off publishing articles, blog posts and using other “one-directional” communications before they do public presentations on that content. The reason is that audiences prefer to read new ideas for the first time, rather than hear or see them “on stage.” Articles that resonate can then generate more conference attendees who want to hear and see the authors do presentations. All to say, a thought leadership campaign must be carefully orchestrated, with certain activities (e.g., blog posts, self-published articles, articles published in leading publications, social media) happening first, second and third — long before the audience hears the conference presentation versions of them. Associations that can help their vendors execute these campaigns (i.e., ghostwrite their blog posts, articles and conference presentations, design and execute research studies with members, etc.) will provide additional high value to the vendors that can’t manage these activities with excellence.
  1. Require vendors who ask to be turned into thought leaders to become association members, not just advertisers. Helping a sponsor turn its people into thought leaders is a major effort. It requires a close partnership between an association and its vendor members, and a major investment by the vendor in the association that offers to work with it in this manner. It’s a long-term play for vendors – and, for association leaders – who want a win-win-win for all three parties. That’s membership value at its core, and a benefit many vendors have never been offered. In this increasingly competitive market, we believe it’s a tremendous advantage to offer.

These five elements are the underpinnings of highly effective thought leadership programs run by associations. There are other services that associations could offer if they want to play an even bigger role in the success of vendors’ thought leadership programs. For example, one of them is helping get a vendor’s salespeople well-versed in the thought leadership content of their company’s authors and presenters and trained on how to engage association members with that content.

Associations that can regularly and reliably turn sponsors into thought leaders will not only generate substantial value for their members (vendors that become more effective at solving their problems), but for their sponsors as well (being seen by members as leading experts in their domains).

These associations will generate new income from making this happen. What’s more, they’ll create a competitive advantage for themselves over other associations – one that will grow especially important during economic times in which members and sponsors are focusing their investments on fewer associations.

JP Moery is Founder and President of The Moery Company, a consulting firm focused on helping associations grow membership, sponsorship and other revenue resources. The firm is headquartered in Alexandria, Va.



Bob Buday is a Founder and Partner of Bloom Group LLC, a Boston-based thought leadership marketing consultancy.






The Dangers of December

JP Moery


December really is like August for me – both are months in which business traditionally tends to slow down, but I view them as opportunities to do some of your best work. However, the December “danger” is not executing or making poor business decisions, which may cripple your business for the next year.

December pipeline deals can close faster with end-of-year budget money available; and, that’s great. But the challenge stems from a desire to meet our business goals and manage the client’s urgency to buy. And, very often, the details aren’t vetted.

That all-important attention to detail, which takes tie and frustrates us the other 11 months of the year – seemingly fades in December. But, take my advice:

  • Be clear on project expectations and timeline.
  • Nail down billing cycle details.
  • Conduct due diligence to learn if the partnership is truly a fit.  Trustworthy? Credible? Good partner?
  • Ensure the end-result of the project provides a solution to your client’s problem.
  • In December, work hard, remain vigilant on the specifics and finish strong.

Enjoy the holidays!

For more content on business in December – check out Tips for Success in December

Bad Advice & Mistakes Made

by JP Moery


Having recently blogged on the best pieces of advice I ever received, my thoughts have naturally drifted to the bad advice that came my way as well. I should give my thoughts some context. I’m a little more reflective these days (on the good and the bad) having recently given high school commencement comments at my alma mater, and the fact that my oldest daughter, Grace will graduate next week.

So, yes. I’ve been thinking about high school, college, and even my professional life in which I listened to some bad advice and made a few mistakes.

Don’t go into debt: when I graduated from college I bought a car. That was stupid. I didn’t have money for a car, but I felt like – I’m a college graduate and now tired of driving this piece of crap. Let me tell you, don’t do things if you don’t have the cash.

That simple mistake right out of college, set me back for a very long time because it limited my freedom to move, make changes and saddled me with financial obligations I wasn’t ready for.

So, the bottom line is – don’t buy a car unless you have the means to do so.

So many opportunities to lead, and I sat on my ass: I didn’t really leverage leadership and volunteer opportunities in high school, college, and for a long time in my professional career.  Maybe, it just wasn’t “cool enough.” But now I’ve learned the network built, opportunities provided, and just awesome experiences are for those who raise your hand – “I’ll do that.”

Yeah, well no one’s laughing now at the leadership dorks, because the skills you learn in leadership as a young person  propel you forever.  And, what do organizations need more today than ever before? Better leadership.

So, the bottom line is – step up and lead.  Companies pay a premium for those qualities.

Don’t wait for the perfect job: “Make sure to wait for the great job to come around. You have time.”  There is no perfect job, and their are things you learn in the least glamorous positions.  I remember when I came out of the University of Oklahoma, I received two job offers. Interestingly enough, these were in sales – pharmaceutical sales and food and beverage sales. I turned them down, because I damn sure didn’t go to school to be in sales.

Fast forward 30 years: I am in sales and wonder how accelerated my career path may have been if I would have learned from those experiences. Waiting for the perfect job delayed my professional growth for some time. I treated my life like filling little buckets of experiences instead of climbing a ladder, with each position presenting an step-by-step building experience.

So, the bottom line is – treat your job experiences like ascending a ladder, learning as you go. Sometimes you need to go down a rung or two, but it’s part of the process.

Learn from my life mistakes: don’t buy stuff you can’t afford, don’t blow the opportunity to take on a leadership position, and don’t wait around for the perfect job.

And finally, don’t forget where you came from.

If you’d like to receive more content focused on leadership, association growth, sales and more – JPMOERY-Select.

I Had It All Wrong

A Quick Lesson in Entrepreneurial Reflection by JP Moery

cropped-JP_300.pngRecently, I wrote about how organizations should sell the problems they solve rather than the products they sell.  In an extraordinary way, it transformed the way I think about The Moery Company’s position in the market.  I had it all wrong and it was time to practice what I preach.

Traditionally, our sales pitch went something like: “We sell memberships, sponsorships and exhibits.”  Or, “We give associations advice on how and what to sell better.”  Right?  No, wrong.

Actually, we help associations with revenue growth problems, whether it’s membership, sponsorship or exhibit programs.  When I started the business, my bias was the sales process was likely the problem.  I had a hammer and everything was a nail.

In the last 6 years, I’ve learned a number of problems exist if an association faces revenue challenges.  Very often, the dues rates are antiquated, the prospect lists are meh, marketing is push instead of pull… and, oh yes, there is no direct sales component in place.  If we don’t work to fix all of those issues, then the likelihood of resolving our client’s overall challenge is low.  And, a better sales solution will have limited success.

So, I’ve had it wrong all along.  It’s not as simple as hiring a salesperson.  Our plan moving forward is to address the underlying disease, not the symptom.  Could you use the same reflection to address challenges in your business?

For more on sales, check out: 

Selling Memberships the Moery Way
Sales Exercises for CEOs

If you enjoyed this post, subscribe to JP’s weekly Blog and Podcast series – delivered right to your inbox.

Overcoming the #1 Sales Objection – Washington DC Association Consultant

What’s the #1 sales objection when you sell memberships?

“We don’t have the budget.”

We hear it every day and we will hear it every day after. This sales objection will always be the one to come up because it works. It’s effective with sales folks who don’t know how to overcome it. Here’s the strategy the Moery sales team uses:

First and foremost – mistakes are made when we lead with price or start talking about the dues level before we should. The key is to establish the value and benefits they will receive through their alignment with the organization – either as a member or a sponsor.

Many times the “budget objection” could be a smoke screen for other things like 1) I don’t understand what my company would get from this, and 2) I am not impressed enough to put myself on the line that this transaction is a good idea.

In either case…you’re sunk. And, in either case, budget isn’t the real issue.  The fact is organization’s surpass budgetary constraints all the time.  It’s not a big deal…IF THERE IS VALUE AND IT IS UNDERSTOOD.

However, if you have effectively established the value proposition – and, there is still a budget objection – I offer the following rebuttal, which is particularly good for phone calls – (doesn’t work as good with emails):

The prospect: I just don’t have the budget.

The response: I totally understand, budgets are important.  I have those guidelines myself. We’ve had a great discussion about whether this organization is the right fit – and, it looks like there are some great opportunities for a fantastic partnership. Let me ask you this, if it wasn’t the budget, and money wasn’t an issue, would you join?

Then shut up.

If they say “Yes,” now you’re still in business. Offer to talk about some payment plans or other ways of getting involved with the association.

If the prospect replies “No,” then we have much more work to do.  There is no value for any budget.

Another budget objections response is: “Have you ever gone over budget?”

The prospect: Yes.

The response: Oh yeah.  What were those circumstances?  My sense is the program was probably worth it and you were willing to consider some budget alternatives.  If you’re willing to work with me more, maybe we can find a way to work around this issue.

Through years of experience, I’ve learned the budget objection is usually a smokescreen. And, it works because you are not prepared for it.  Until now.


Just Pick Up the Phone

cropped-JP_300.pngDon’t get me wrong – I totally embrace digital communication. Email has transformed our business communications enabling us to cover more ground and respond with lightning speed – It’s unbelievable. Over the last several weeks, however, I’ve been increasingly surprised by how effective problem solving can be through face-to-face conversation or by just picking up the phone. More often than not, a question can be answered or a clarification made in a matter of minutes rather than a lengthy email chain. Got a problem? Pick up the phone.

We’ve run into a few situations recently in which a direct dial was made and boom – problem solved. Questions and uncertainties are the norm – so, make the call:  “Hey, I’m still not sure I got that right;” or “What did you mean by that?” “Hey, I’m off track.” Or, “I just want to clarify the expectations here.” Situations like this could take 10 emails or more. A total time suck.

Has the tone of an email ever been misconstrued? There’s a vocal nuance conveyed in actual conversation whether it’s on the phone or in person, which simply can’t be communicated through email. In fact, I have an App called, “Ask Emma.” Emma reviews your email and provides feedback on whether you’ve come across as happy, concerned, ticked off or whatever. Believe me, it can be helpful when trying to communicate a quality message.

With technology aside, I believe our business partners appreciate the personal reach of a call or a one on one. We’ve seemingly forgotten this. I’m a big fan of email; but, as powerful as it is – digital exchanges are causing us to become passive aggressive and indirect in our communication.

And, if you believe there is a wall or sense of security between your email and the reader; there really isn’t.  A miscommunicated point via email could have an unwanted effect.

I’m reminded of a journalism professor I had in college who proved his professional chops shooting news film in Vietnam.  He said photojournalists can get lulled into a false sense of security because they are looking through a lens, unaware of danger around them until its too late.  The same could apply to the seemingly indirect nature we have with email.

When an important message needs delivering – pick up the phone or look the person in the “baby blues” – a better policy in my view.

Sales Exercise for Association CEOs

Increasingly, I am finding association chief executives becoming more active in the fundraising programs of their organizations.   Possibly some rumblings from your Board recently include “Where’s the growth? We need additional revenue to fulfill our mission.”  Here are some preliminary recommendations for CEOs who wish to actively embrace a business approach to generating new association revenue.

#1:  Go to your sales team or whomever is responsible for new membership, sponsorship growth or other selling activity and ask them to identify their top 10 prospects, how much money the deal is worth, and when the approximate close date. If they can’t answer these questions right away, that’s a symptom that your organization may need more tracking or intensive focus on sales.

#2:  How often are your sales teams reporting their progress?  I would recommend a weekly summary with an activity report, sales pipeline and color commentary on what seems to be working or not.  We provide similar reports to our sales clients to ensure communication is ongoing and the rhythm of sales is well known in the organization.

#3: Get in the game. Take 5 of the top 10 prospects and make a call to the prospect yourself. Learn firsthand what the prospect is considering and if the sales intelligence from your team is accurate.

#4: Pitch and be pitched.  Receive a sales presentation from your team.  Would membership interest you if you were a prospect?  Would you join?  And, then reverse the role and gain feedback from sales executives about your skills.  This is an incredibly uncomfortable but useful exercise.

The very best CEOS are absolutely involved at some level in the new money game. Whether that is from leading the effort to actually being involved in sales calls. These are just a few recommendations to get you started.  The overall theme is your organization will follow leadership about the importance of revenue growth.  It’s up to you to set the bar high.


Give Your Sponsors What They Really Want

I’ve been speaking with a number of sponsors in different industries and what I’m learning is fascinating. In my discussions with sponsors – vendor and supplier members – within our industry associations, they’ve been very forthcoming with what they want.

They want to:
1) know how other members are working;
2) they want to learn more about their business;
3) they certainly want to network and meet people; and,
4) we are seeing increased interest in some of the government relations and advocacy programs associations are implementing.

In other words, they are starting to sound like “regular” members.

But, holy cow – we definitely treat them differently from the regular members. We typically put them in an exhibit hall booth.  There are barriers to serving on committee or the leadership of the organization – not to mention associations won’t allow them to speak during a program.

I actually believe this is very short sighted because in many cases these suppliers and vendors have products and services that are absolutely essential for our members to do business. So why do we put up these barriers to access to the organization and our members?

Sponsors have been very forthcoming of what they want from their association relationship.

  • First: They want to be a thought leader. They want speaking opportunities. You don’t want to rule someone out who may provide great content – just because they are a sponsor. It’s funny, I had a sponsor tell me once, “I’ve sponsored a number of events but have never been asked to speak. I have good content in these areas. And, on the flip side, the meetings where I’m not a sponsor, I’ve been signed on for a speaking role right away. It just seems weird to me.” I know some sponsors are struggling with this so let me give you a couple tips.
    1. Don’t rule someone out as a speaker just because they are a sponsor. So, start with your content and your programming. If the sponsor makes sense to be on that program or session – include them. Give them the opportunity. I bet you’ll get a great speaker.
    2. Ensure their opportunity is  to provide great content and not to sell. Most good business people know when they are asked to speak somewhere – it’s not about selling something. They are there to share their perspective and their expertise.
  • Secondy, many associations are offering these premier, high-level sponsorships, but ensure it’s worth the price. So, when someone signs on for a $75K to $150K sponsorship – they will be looking to present, cobrand, and seek face-to-face meetings with their most important prospects. They will also want to work with your staff to develop an annual marketing program and to craft the most effective opportunities for exposure. Ensure your sponsorship is worth the investment.
  • And, third – sponsors want to access. Their #1 priority is to meet the very best prospects they can. And, that doesn’t necessarily happen in a booth. There are some great associations who are taking bold steps and creating an exhibit hall that is much more dynamic. They are facilitating one-on-one business meetings between vendors and buyers and it’s been a huge success. This approach generates increased energy at an event and people know why they are present. This is the way to go! Are you will to provide this opportunity for a 6-figure sponsorship?

So the challenge ahead is in developing these kinds of relationships; so start planning now to provide your sponsors the opportunity for thought leadership – which, could also include the delivery of white paper. Secondly – make that premium sponsorship worth the price tag by identifying a customized experience. And finally, give them real access – face-to-face meetings that you are facilitating. These strategies will make your association very valuable to them. Treat them like real members because that’s who they are.


Three WOM Member Recruitment Strategies

My friends at Marketing General Inc publish its Membership Marketing Benchmark Study every year. And, I really recommend you download it if you work in the membership marketing space. The report reveals the most effective recruitment methods as surveyed by associations. I’d like to share my thoughts on one of those.

Word-of-Mouth (WOM) Recommendations. I could not agree more. In fact, in every campaign we undertake at The Moery Company, we try to use word-of-mouth recommendations as much as we can. The challenge is in most trade associations or professional societies – the members just don’t have time to do that kind of work. If you think your members are going to pick up the phone and make calls for you – you’re wrong. It’s very hard to try and scale that methodology.

But, here is a few ideas on how to create and apply word-of-mouth opportunities without having your members do too much:

  • First: Utilize an effective email that actually comes from a member. We helped an association in which a small business member wrote a very quick, but thoughtful message about his affiliation with the organization. It was sent as part of a marketing campaign. I’ll paraphrase:

“You may be thinking about joining this association. To be honest, I was very skeptical about the value when I joined. My business was small and money was tight. Here’s what happened when I joined: I began to meet people who were very successful in business. They taught me how to run my business better. But the greatest value is the technical expertise, which is a phone call away. My business has never been the same since joining.”

 This was a killer letter of recommendation and received an incredible response.

  • Second:  Utilize word-of-mouth in personal sales calls. As we mentioned, it may be difficult for members to make actual phone calls – so, here’s what I’d say in a call on behalf of the organization:

“Frank, I just spoke to Bill Smith with ABC Manufacturing. He told me the legislative and regulatory updates he received about the regulatory situation in California, actually saved his business. This might help you too, but I’m not sure. Call me if you want to know more about what we are doing there. ”

This approach uses the member referral without the member having to make the call.

  • My third and final recommendation is to find a way to get your members on video so they can share really good and authentic recommendations. Often, we see staged videos featuring the chairman in a coat and tie after the board meeting talking about the fantastic networking opportunities. It can come off as scripted or ingenuous.

Here’s an idea. Try turning on your phone and going live with one of your members. Ask them, “Hey, what’s the best thing that has happened to you as a part of this organization?” And, let them tell you a story. Because this is what we need . . . that authentic word-of-mouth recommendation. Just a few ideas. Now, go recruit some new members. Best of luck.