This week’s Green Umbrella HQ debate centred around trade bodies and ultimately, whether they’re worth getting involved with and how good they are for boosting your business?
You may have had this debate yourself about whether the commitment and energy you have to put in brings the return you need.
The big question is… Does being a member of a trade body form a part of your marketing strategy that genuinely brings a return on investment?
Like all marketing activity, it’s essential to start with a why!
Step 1 – Start with why
Why do you want to join the trade body in the first place? Is it for brand visibility, to generate leads and potential business, is it for market research and to get feedback on your product or service? Is to connect with like-minded people who are going through the same thing as you?
All of these are achievable with trade association membership, but if you go in all guns blazing with a hard sales approach, you’ll just turn people off. Be realistic about what you want to (and what you can) achieve with your membership.
Step 2 – Do your research
Similarly, with any part of your marketing strategy, you need to do your due diligence. Find out which trade bodies are credible, the size and demographic of the member base, what sort of events are available, and so on.
We always advise weighing up the options before deciding which social media platform to invest your time into, the same goes for trade bodies. There is no point in hanging out on Facebook if the community you want to reach is on LinkedIn. It’s exactly the same principle!
Green Umbrella has recently joined APSCo (the Association for Professional Staffing Companies). Add this to our existing membership of TEAM (The Employment Agents Movement), and we’re able to work with recruiters across the UK, in different sized business and across a variety of sectors.
We also know that local business networks are worth investing in too. Look for what’s on your doorstep!
Step 3 – Make it Work
Once you have been accepted into your chosen trade body, it’s time to get to work. As a side note, remember it’s not a given that you will be accepted. Most trade bodies worth their salt will do a background check on your business and ask for references. Also, if there are similar companies like you, or they are oversubscribed with members – there might be a waiting list.
Once you’re on board, though, there are basic steps you can take to make the membership a success. Just sitting back and waiting for people to contact you is not going to cut it!
Here are a few actions that you should be taking to make your trade body membership work:
- Announce your membership – have a press release both on your website and ready for sharing on social media channels and with trade media
- If you’re a supplier, create a dedicated member page on your website – this is space purely for fellow trade body members to see your support, any goodies you’re giving away like ebooks or presentations, and any special offers you have for them
- Volunteer as a speaker – whether this is via webinar or in person, you will have topics that showcase your expertise and knowledge – share that gift!
- Attend meetings – you and/or one of your team are an ambassador for your business. You are basically a walking advert. You need to be seen and heard to get on people’s radars
- Ask for opinions and feedback – use the membership base as an opportunity to find out what your partners, customers and potential customers, and even your competitors are talking about right now. What’s trending, what are the big topics and pain points? What do they think of your latest offering?
- Take advantage of free training – most membership organisations host events that are free to members. Whether that’s in person or free webinars, take advantage of the fact you can jump on this free training and walk away with knowledge, inspiration or insight that you didn’t have to start with
The Cons of Trade Body Membership
There are just two obvious drawbacks to becoming a member of a trade body. The membership cost and the time investment to ensure you get value back.
If you do your research and show up to the events, giving it your best shot to make it work – then neither of these should be an issue.
To put this into context, let’s say membership of your chosen trade body is £100 per month (so £1200 a year – you worked that out already didn’t you!)
If all you walk away with is the equivalent of one day’s free training, a fistful of new followers on social media, a handful of contacts you didn’t know before, and a couple of people who want to work with you… well, you can do the maths. It’s got to be worth exploring.