Focus on Services, Reviews, Video and Sponsors to Align With 2017 Trends

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We're a little bit past mid-year, but it's still a good time to highlight five trends for 2017. The first three come from the Member Clicks Blog and Dan Farkas, a lecturer of strategic communication at Ohio University, at a recent talk titled Marketing on a Budget:

Trend #1: "The earmuffs reality. No one is listening to you or anyone for that matter." With so many messages bombarding our senses each day—via email, social media, TV, billboards, etc.—it's easy for your audience to let most of these sail by.

The solution: Repeat and reinforce. Change the headline, reshape the content a bit, but don't think that just sending one or two messages is enough. "(In fact, did you know the average shelf-life of a tweet is only about 15 minutes?) That means you have to keep sharing."

Trend #2: "Trust is becoming a commodity." What do people trust most these days? It's not government, media, for-profit organizations, or even nonprofit organizations. It's online reviews. A whopping 91% of people trust an online review, even if they don't know the person behind it.

The solution: "Figure out how to leverage your members, fans, advocates and constituents to better tell your story. Member testimonials are POWERFUL." Don't be shy about asking your best advocates for testimonials; it's a reasonable ask. Give incentives if need be.

Trend #3: "Short-form multimedia storytelling isn't nice. It's necessary."

This means primarily video but also podcasting. "You've heard it talked about a lot, but it's no longer just a nice-to-have—it's a MUST. Here's why: Social media platforms are promoting the type of content they're preferring, and right now, what many of them are preferring is video." Facebook Live is being pushed. Twitter is making room for more content.

The solution: Make a plan to do video, but don't just start shooting. "The biggest mistake companies make," Brian Malone of new SIPA member Malone Media told me last week, is they "don't do enough pre-production or planning. People haven't read scripts or rehearsed. You can't just start rolling." He also stressed the editing. "You have to go through the footage and make sense of it."

Trend #4: The need to do more for exhibitors and sponsors. In 2016, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers launched an exhibitor engagement department. "We take a personalized approach," said Megan Tanel, senior vice president of exhibitions and events for AEM, in AssociationsNow. "We want to show them how to embrace technology and tools to make their time at [our shows] worthwhile and valuable to them."

A solution: At this year's meeting back in March, AEM gave all exhibitors access to attendee behavioral data that had never been available before. It included everything from attendee dwell time at a booth to aggregate demographic activity around a booth. "We were able to give them something they never had received, so it was a win for everyone," said Tanel.

Trend #5: Diversifying your revenue. In my Q&A yesterday with Dan Fink, managing director of Money-Media, he spoke of the importance of product and revenue diversification. "We try to be creative with new products and revenue streams, and try to capture synergies with Financial Times [their parent company]," he said. "... It's a pretty common concern for specialized publishers who want to keep growing. Finding new successes as we try to expand creates a need for expertise in new industries. It's exciting to explore how we approach that knowledge gap—a company rooted in investment management. How do we branch out into other sectors?"

The solution: On a much larger scale but still a good example, Apple has done three things to diversify its revenue:

  1. Focus on services, not just products. Apple Insider notes that if you were to break out Apple's service-based revenue over the past 12 months, it would be a Fortune 100 company by itself.
  2. Lower prices. Apple cut iPad prices and sales went up for the first time since 2013. Revenue is up as well.
Look to other business lines. Sales have jumped 56% for the Apple Watch.

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…