Association Marketers: Time to Measure Up

Improving the ratio of cost from lead generation to client or sale is the biggest challenge for associations today. Evidence for this can be found in two recent reports from the Center for Association Leadership (ASAE). The first puts the spotlight on the marketing problems associations are facing, while the second looks at their operating costs. Taken separately, the reports have a great deal to teach association leaders. Taken together, they show that pressure is increasing on marketers to show the connection between their departmental costs and the outcomes they deliver. Beginning with the marketing report, the 2012 Association Marketing Trendwatch (subscription required), six general marketing concerns emerged: • It's harder than ever to capture the attention of our audience. • We're managing more information and more channels than ever before. • We rely on technology. • Competition is fierce. • We're working to earn trust. • We're going global. One can almost group all six concerns under one general question: How do we stand out from the crowd? Whether growing concerns over capturing attention in increasingly segmented markets, or keeping up with the proliferating channels of information in a global economy, association marketers are feeling the crush of standing out. Everyone wants to go viral--but how? And what would it mean for sales if we did? The pressure to stand out, however, is not the only problem organizations are facing. Also just released by ASAE is its Operating Ratio Report (subscription required). It’s a helpful, but relatively basic, attempt to place dollar amounts to the cost of doing business. Among the findings, the ongoing decline in association membership dues is placing more pressure on revenue generating activities. To guide association leaders, the report looks to some core metrics to assist them in understanding how they’re performing. Among the metrics: Net profitability, which is defined as the difference between the organization's total revenue and its total expenses, shown as a percentage of total revenue. Productivity, which is total revenues divided by number of employees. While these numbers help one grab hold of the overall picture, they do little to help organizations know how to improve if their metrics are unfavorable. And with marketers feeling the pinch to prove they can drive revenues for their associations, they will be the ones feeling the pressure to improve these basic ratios. For this reason, it’s important that they are able to show dollar by dollar what it costs them to move a prospective member or purchaser through their business pipeline to become a paying customer. Such granularity not only brings clarity to how marketing costs translate to the bottom line, but it also allows marketing directors to understand where their own departments can improve. Synaxis has developed Macroscope to the deliver this type of granular information. It establishes benchmarks across the sales pipeline and allows marketers to see, for example, how much is spent converting a cold prospect to someone who interacts with your organization, and how much is spent to move that person to a customer. And this is only the start--the benchmarks are established across the spectrum of the pipeline. Macroscope enables marketers to demonstrate to their CFOs that their expenses are generating revenue, as well as allows them to discover the spots along the process that require improvement. For more information, visit our website or contact us directly.