Cancellations? Stay at home orders? NO more in-person events? No more socials? No GOLF TOURNAMENT?! Without these events, how will we engage with our members? What value can we bring to our Sponsors?
When COVID-19 hit the world, every industry encountered issues and realized very quickly things were going to have to change. In the world of Associations, member engagement was a key component to bringing in revenue. Without member engagement, we wouldn’t have sponsors. Without sponsors, we wouldn’t be able to give away scholarships or host events, and the cycle would continue with ongoing questions of how we would be able to pivot in a world without human contact.
As the leadership for each of our associations gathered to discuss how we would move forward during the pandemic, we heard from them, one-by-one…”we will just have to hold virtual events. It is just too risky.”
Most of the associations I managed had fiscal years starting in January, so when the pandemic hit, their sponsors were already secured for the year. But I did have concerns about one of my mid-sized, local associations. Their fiscal year started in July, so the sponsorship chair was just about to start asking companies to write checks and sponsor our association without knowing what was ahead of us.
We weren’t sure what kind of promises we could make, what kind of events we would host, what benefits they would truly receive.
So, I did what any self-respecting “Xenial” did during this time...I turned to TikTok. As I spent my days working and brainstorming, I spent my evenings scrolling through 60 second videos trying to find some idea for this group.
I kept seeing this word floating around throughout my research, “eBook.” What was it? How could I use this to my advantage?
With our sponsors in mind, I started researching to see what I could find on this idea of an “eBook,” and how it could be used to benefit our associations, their members and sponsors.
Through research, I found PowerPoint templates that had the look and feel of a notebook, and I let my marketing brain take over the rest.
By using the association’s branding, I updated the master slide with their colors and took the tabs already created in the template and came up with ideas for sections in the book.
Section 1: Our events would be virtual for the foreseeable future. Record all of the presentations and use this section for our members and attendees to access the recording.
Section 2: For every presentation, we would have either a speaker or panelist. Use section 2 for their biographical information and headshot. The eBook is a great way to market our speaker(s) one more time to our members.
Section 3: Before every presentation, ask the speaker(s) if they wouldn’t mind giving us a little something extra for our attendees. Do they have any extra resources they can provide on the topic? Questions to answer? A discount code? A link? We can use section 3 for these key takeaways.
Section 4, 5, & 6: We would dedicate these sections to advertising for our sponsors. Each level of sponsorship would receive a section. We would give the highest tier the biggest amount of space. The middle sponsorship tier would receive a moderate amount of space, and the lower tier would receive the least amount of space.
Each sponsor can provide us an ad that will fit into their designated amount of space every month to be distributed to our attendees and registrants.
The last 2 sections of the eBook would be dedicated to the Board of Directors and their contact information, along with upcoming events.
Our sponsors loved this idea. They loved the opportunity to have another way to get in front of our members. The members loved the opportunity to walk away from each event with a parting gift...a reference from the presentation.
We “published” our first eBook in August 2020, and we have created an eBook for every virtual presentation that followed. In fact, since creating the original eBook, I have created 3 additional eBooks for other associations.