“An association magazine gives you the ability to highlight and double down on your business goals—particularly membership issues.” – Ernie Smith of Associations Now
According to one industry insider, your association’s publications are vital to achieving your bottom line business goals – if you leverage them correctly.
“Your association’s publications represent a lot of things—especially a way to constantly engage your member base and keep them informed about what your association is doing,” notes Ernie Smith at Associations Now.
“An association magazine gives you the ability to highlight and double down on your business goals—particularly membership issues,” he notes.
Smith cites an article by Kelly Williams in Association Adviser that points out some of the mistakes associations make that are diminishing the impact of their publications. It comes down to taking that piece and making sure it is absolutely aligned with your strategic objectives. This is where print can be a vital component of your association’s success.
“Although magazines are creative by nature, they’re ultimately a business. To get the most out of your member magazine – including non-dues revenue! – you have run it like a business and align its strategy with the goals you’re hoping to achieve,” Williams says.
A few key points to keep in mind:
- Advertising decisions for each year are made in Q3 and Q4 the previous year, Williams notes. Having your editorial schedule defined by then is critical to maximizing ad revenues.
- Once you have those advertising partnerships, nurture them, Williams urges. “Show them some love by publicly thanking them for their support within the pages of the magazine. At the very least, include an advertiser/sponsor list within every issue. Acknowledge their support. It will go a long way toward future advertiser investment in, and expansion of, your member magazine brand.”
- And of course, never forget the members and what’s in it for them, Williams advises. “To ensure that content is on point with what members want and need, create an editorial board composed of members, industry leaders and influencers to review your magazine articles prior to publication. At the very least, all articles should be reviewed by key association staff who can spot errors and ensure messaging and claims align with industry standards,” she advises.
Too often we see the results when an association forgoes the print publication in favor of “cheaper” digital alternatives. Associations risk alienating their membership and eliminating a potentially lucrative revenue source when they do this. It’s a penny-wise, pound-foolish approach.
Association magazines – when created using sound editorial practices and strategically aligned with an organization’s business goals – are having a growing impact on success. The “lean back” nature of a good association magazine is part of its appeal, making it a perfect channel for in-depth and comprehensive material not suited to the digital content firehose.