Benefits Abound for Publishers Starting Membership Organizations

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"If you're looking for a way to build your marketing list—and a loyal constituency of prospects—consider following Diversified Communications' no-cost-to-join association model," Jim Sinkinson of Fired Up! Marketing says.

That would be the American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP), now one of the largest international associations for executive assistants and administrative professionals. "The key to this organization's success is that membership is free!" Sinkinson adds. "ASAP has attracted more than 75,000 members, each of whom receives a monthly e-newsletter packed with helpful career advice, as well as invitations to attend ASAP's two annual conferences, earn a professional certificate and purchase other products.

"In addition to the organization's newsletter, ASAP members also receive discounts on conferences, plus access to a library of webinars, special reports, books and articles. The goal of the association—besides providing a prime marketing channel for Diversified—is to help members advance their careers and the profession in general."

Sinkinson will present a 3-hour Monday morning workshop, Information Memberships: A Proven Model for Increasing Customer Engagement, Improving Retention and Boosting Lifetime Sales, at the Nov. 12-14 Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) in Fort Lauderdale. Admission is included in the conference registration, but you should email Onaji Rouse in advance to take part. (Breakfast will be served.)

Previous Publisher-Started Organizations

Publishers starting associations/organizations—free and paid—can now be called a trend. HCPro found success with its Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (ACDIS). It started when they saw a group of people in their niche who "were on an island," said Simplify Compliance's Elizabeth Petersen, moderator for a special Women in Leadership panel at BIMS. "We wanted them to come in, get to know us and love us," and that has happened. Indeed, they just had their eighth annual successful CDI Week.

Simplify Compliance last year launched the National Association of Healthcare Revenue Integrity. "We were looking at registrations for events and one of my product people noticed, 'There's a new title popping up and we had never seen this title before'—it was revenue integrity specialist," said Petersen. "We started picking up the phone and calling customers, [asking], 'What does that mean?'"

"I don't really know," came the answer. "I'm isolated. I've been given this title. There's nobody else who does this in my organization."

"So we sent out a survey," Petersen said. "'Are there revenue integrity specialists at your organization?' We started doing focus groups and shadowing, and after a year we said these guys need an association. Getting folks to truly opt into something these days is very difficult. The first month that we offered a free resource, 2500 signed up for an e-newsletter. And in the first month and a half we had 400 people signed up for an association that didn't exist. It would not have come about... without talking to people."

They staged a successful Revenue Integrity Symposium earlier this month. And Revenue Integrity Week took place June 3-9, releasing new resources for members.

Longtime SIPA member insideARM launched the Compliance Professionals Forum a few years ago—for anyone tasked with managing consumer debt. It's not free but the benefits are numerous. They have peer groups, industry benchmark reports, daily news updates, regional meetings and places to ask compliance questions—and get quick answers.

"It's not enough to simply build an app or post on social media; creating a genuine, deep community that offers consumers relevant services and content must be the goal," said Stephanie Eidelman, CEO of InsideARM, who has previously spoken about the success they are having with this group.

"In every communication, we try to remind people why they originally joined," membership director Liz Slovenkay said. Keep communicating your benefits.

Sinkinson highlights the friendly, trusting relationships that can be built through these organizations—increasing interest in and dramatically reducing sales resistance to reports, events, webinars and other revenue producers—and the lead generator they can be. Hear him live on Nov. 12 in Fort Lauderdale. (See the full program.)

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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…