The other day I bumped into an old friend from High School that I had not seen in a long time. We started talking, playing catch up as old high school buddies do, and he told me that he was now an owner of a gym that was doing quite well.
He invited me to come check it out.
Out of curiosity (a perhaps too many donut breakfasts as of late) I decided to take him up on his offer.
Not to say that I am a skeptic or anything…but I happen to know that gyms can be very complicated business with high turnover and heavy competition that forces you to keep your prices low.
So, while I didn’t doubt that my friend’s business was doing well, I was assuming that he meant that it was doing moderately well for an independent business.
It turns out that the place was packed.
Astounded by his success, I asked my friend how he managed to do it and he started explaining all the different things that he does to get more customers. Things like posting Ads, holding special promotions like “bring a friend” and special deals with local companies, a newsletter and so on.
I was impressed.
Especially since his business was not part a chain and did not have the resources for a huge marketing campaign or lucrative deals with separate suppliers. This meant that he had to do all of the promotional work on his own with a little help from his receptionist.
But that did not mean he was not actually getting any help from the outside.
In fact, he told me one of the biggest reasons he was successful was the help which he received from the Independent Gym Owner’s Association that he belonged to.
He told me that ever since he first found their website, he has come to rely on the association more and more for guidance and information on what he should do to attract more customers to his gym.
He attends their events and seminars to make new business contacts and pick up new business strategies.
He also reads their newsletters which contain tips and ideas on improving business and then applies these ideas to his business.
And it has worked wonders.
While my friend deserves all the credit for properly using the resources at his disposal, it was clear that this Association that was a key part to his success.
Good Associations can provide their members with a lot of value and can help increase both revenues and margins. Associations achieve this mostly by providing information and educational opportunities and communicating with their members through different mediums including websites, live events, email newsletters, and social media.
An Association can be the perfect tool for the business savvy member of a specific industry. Something my friend helped opened up my eyes to. It also made me realize that while becoming a member of an association is lucrative.
Starting an Association for a particular industry can be very rewarding as well…
Keys to a building a Good Association
As an Association, your aim is to bethe highest authority in a specific industry.
You are the main source of news and information for members of your industry.
You attract new members with your websites and blog posts.
You provide all of tips and strategies for growth for your members in your newsletter.
That’s a big objective.
But that’s okay.
Because you have the internet and you know how to find valuable and usable information on just about anything. You can simply “google it” or dig even deeper and see what people are sharing on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
Searching through this massive pile of data and finding actionable information that is worthy of sharing is one of the most important duties of an Association.
And the challenges that it poses can be overwhelming.
The first main obstacle to overcome is separating the relevant information from the non-relevant. You only want to share the best information with your members.
This is especially true for your newsletters.
While your website can remain static, containing a general message to attract newcomers, your newsletter always needs new material. You are using it to reach out to members of the industry. It is something that is going to be read exclusively by them.
You need to provide value.
And finding that value can take a lot of time.
Which is the second biggest challenge…
Compiling all of these stories, news, tips, strategies, and notifications and putting them together in a newsletter for subscribers will probably be the most time consuming task for an association.
But also the most important one…
Providing members with the best information about their industry and how to compete in it is pretty much the entire point of an Association’s existence.
And providing members with the best Newsletter possible is key to achieving this goal.
How to build the best newsletter for an association.
The first rule of a good newsletter is that it is about the members…not the association.
It shouldn’t be packed with Association News. Subscribers are probably not going to care about the new intern you “hired”. They are going to be looking for content of more value to their business. More industry related news that will help them compete and grow.
You need to put yourself in the shoes of the readers.
Who are they?
The CEO? The sales manager? The young startup?
What sort of information will they find important?
Some examples of valuable content include industry news, articles on how to grow your business and tips on how to be more competitive in your field.
These are general news articles related to the industry.
Topics can include:
- Articles about the latest developments in the industry.
- New laws that affect the industry
- New players or competitors in the market.
- New Suppliers or products that can change the game.
- Career Opportunities.
- Important Alerts
While these topics can cover a broad scope, it is important to only include the most relevant articles for your subscribers. This is where smart researching can come in handy. By paying close attention to the industry’s trending topics and what content is being shared the most, you can filter out the fluff and give members the substance that they deserve.
Business Growth Articles:
Articles on how to grow business should contain tips and information targeted to help a business thrive as the industry changes. The way you do business is constantly shifting and it can be hard for a company to keep abreast of the latest changes and opportunities that occur in their industry.
And every business is different.
What an aerospace company needs to know to stay competitive, for example, will be quite different from the marketing tips that a local gym would benefit from.
The beauty of an association is that you can tailor information for a specific industry, making sure that your subscribers receive the exact kind of content that will help them meet future challenges.
Some General Topics that can be covered are:
- How to increase referrals
- Specific Promotions that work well for your business
- Best ways to advertise for your specific business
- Which types of Social Media you should use
- Whether or not your company needs a newsletters
Tips on how to Stay Competitive:
Like articles on growth, tips on how to stay competitive are specific to the industry. Some businesses are challenged by high overhead while others might have to deal with a lack of efficient production practices. It’s important to address the needs of your industry so they might stay competitive in their field.
Some examples include:
- Services and Tactics that can help you be more productive
- How to use outsourcing to reduce costs
- How to be more effective at meetings
Creating and Curating Content
In order to get all of this great information, you have several different routes:
You can create content on your own.
This will take a lot time and creative energy as you constantly reflect upon the needs of your readers and come up with new content.
You can curate content from the internet.
This involves finding the best content about your industry on the internet and then sharing it with your readers.
Or, you can do both
Providing some of your own content along with the best curated content you can find can result in a great newsletter.
Additional Advantages of a Curated Newsletter:
- Saves Time: Spend less time trying to create content.
- Provides Value: Share beneficial information your members will want.
- Increase Readership: Great Content will help you keep your subscribers and lure in others.
- Become the Expert: By sharing the most relevant articles, you become the go to authority in the field.
- Bring in additional revenue: You can include advertising in your curated content to bring in extra revenue.
Curating a newsletter manually can be a challenge but it is still easier than trying to create valuable content on your own.
Step 1: Find the Content.
Finding the best content on the internet involves looking in the right places.
- Follow the best blogs in the industry to see what topics are trending.
- Follow Specific Twitter accounts and hashtags to see what news is being shared.
- Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups in your particular niche.
- Do searches related to your industry.
Step 2: Choosing the best content.
You want to give your readers information that they can use. This means that you will need to shift through these sites and find only the most valuable content.
This can be done by:
- Using only reputable sources that you trust.
- Sharing content that is proven to be popular with lots of shares or comments on social media
Step 3: Building the Newsletter.
Once you have all of your content ready, you will then need to download onto a newsletter template. If you use an email marketing service, they will most likely have a newsletter template available for you.
Step 4: Send it to your Subscribers.
Once you have your newsletter put together, you are ready to email it out to your subscribers. Most Associations use the aid of software to email out their finalized product.
Software for Newsletter Curation
There is software that can make the curation of content and the creation of a newsletter much more efficient than doing it all manually.
NewsletterBreeze, for example, is a service that can save you a lot of time and headache by automatically curating content for you. It does this by bringing in related content from specified sites and depositing into your account.
Sites you can search:
- Twitter Accounts
- Other Industry News Sites
- Shared articles on social Media
Software like NewsletterBreeze can also help you pick the best content because it also monitors how many times each item has been shared. This allows you to pick out the most popular news that your readers will want to know about.
Now instead of having to scour the web for articles, you simply have to go to your account and pick the most popular articles. NewsletterBreeze also can help save you time by automatically downloading your chosen content onto your template.
Here’s more information on NewsletterBreeze.