The Basics of Marketing Your Chapter
Be a Brand Lover
The best membership directors know that membership is a sales job at some point – but they also know that it’s everyone’s job. Membership is an entire board effort, and it’s
important to note that it isn’t the primary concern. Membership is more often the
byproduct of quality programming and high perceived value.
But there are many ways to get the job done without such an investment. First and foremost is to
make the newspapers work for you for free. Here’s how:
Prepare a calendar of events Press Release for your next event (or your entire programming
schedule). You’ll find a template attached on the leadership resources site under “programming” for you to modify and use. Simply enter the information like the sample, then send it to the
Calendar Editor at your local daily paper, weekly paper, and business journal. It’s also a good idea to send it to your business reporters or anyone else at the publication that you have an
established relationship with. These same people should ideally be on your invitation / prospect
list as well – after all, they’re just as likely to get something meaningful out of your events.
In essence, you’re reaching the same population with a calendar listing as you are with an ad – it just won’t cost anything. And who knows – the next time a records-based scandal erupts, you
may get a phone call to be quoted in the news story as an expert!
The Prospect Database - Partnerships
Next up, let’s work on that prospect database. We want to make sure we’re inviting our non-member prospects to everything we do. As guests come to your programs they need to be added
to the list to receive all of your communications from that point forward. When we spoke at the
region meeting, we talked about the need for outreach to other organizations. Finding another
organization to partner with gives you a rapid infusion of new potential contacts. Assuming they
won’t just give you their list, you need to have something in place at your program to capture their
information. (It’s important to let them know they’ll be kept informed of upcoming events when you
capture their information.)
Who should you partner with? There are so many groups that need ARMA information – think about the needs in your local area and start there. If that doesn’t do it, here’s a short list of the ones in Kansas City to inspire you:
Kansas City Archivists www.umkc.edu/KCAA/
Paralegals of kc www.kcparalegals.org
Medical Managers GKCMMA www.gkcmma.com
HR Managers www.hrma-kc.org
JO CO HR Managers www.hrmajc.com
Facility Managers www.kcifma.com
Accounts Payable www.iappnet.org
Often times, other organizations may not want to co-host a program. They may be too busy, not
have the board strength… there are many possible excuses. In that case, it never hurts to ask for
the moon – see if they will promote the event to their members. See if they’ll trade mailing lists
(provided your chapter bylaws allow such a thing). See if they’ll post a link on their website to the programming schedule page of your site.
When choosing a partner, it’s important to consider the ultimate draw of the organization. You
wouldn’t want to partner with a group that might be a more appealing choice for membership than
ARMA. While that may be a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances for that case to be true, it’s
always good to keep that sort of thing in mind.
Prospect Database Kickstart
How about pulling new prospects in from the pockets of your existing board members. It’s not a
bad way to start a solid prospect list. You’re all professionals and your peers are good prospects for your programming (and, by extension, membership). But we rarely take the time to export our
Palm or Outlook contacts into an excel file for our prospect database. Why? You offer valuable
programs and they need to attend for the benefit of their company, their career, and the good of
the whole RIM profession. Export it! Obviously, give them an option to opt out in accordance with
law, but it’s time to share the knowledge!
Say Thank You at Every Opportunity
You have meetings and your members and non-members show up. What a tremendous
opportunity to have some passive Thank You time! Run a PowerPoint deck in the
background while people are checking in and mingling. Use it to recognize new and
renewing members, reinforce member benefits, promote your next meeting, thank
sponsors… anything you can think of!
When a visitor comes to a program, take some time at the event to make them feel
welcome. Then, send them a thank you note after the event to say you were glad they
came to the program. Personal steps like these may be time consuming, but they work
well to make the visitor feel special.
Sponsors are often more willing to invite others to events or add prospects to your list.
Take vendors, for example. If a vendor offers a particular product that RIM professionals
want / need, they’re often interested in reaching out to those pros. Why not gauge their interest in sponsoring the plate of munchies at your next after-hours social? You’ll find
more advanced sponsorship information under the programming section of the leadership
site, but this is a quick and easy win-win situation. Then, see if the vendor wants to show
off their generosity by inviting their other clients.