An awareness campaign can be a powerful way for an organization to raise visibility for a profession, industry, or initiative that is core to its mission. If your association doesn’t already have an awareness month or week, consider establishing one to increase reach and impact.
There are several benefits to launching an awareness week:
- Engage current members and reinforce the value of membership
- Recruit new members
- Build community support and advocacy
- Say “thank you” for being part of the association’s community
- Recognize the role your members play and the impact they make within their respective industries
Tell Your Story
An awareness week is a great opportunity to tell your association’s story by highlighting its mission, vision, and strategic plan. Associations can do this by highlighting members: who they are, what they do, and the difference they make within their profession/industry. Remember, your members are your voice—amplify it! Put them front and center and express gratitude and appreciation for the job they do. This is also a way for a potential member to connect with your organization—they might see, “I belong here,” and it underscores the importance of community.
Bring the Community Together
Encourage member participation through peer-to-peer and grassroots activities. Associations can get members involved by creating activities and sharing ideas for celebrating during the week itself, including a marketing toolkit that members can use to spread the word. Marketing toolkits allow your members to participate in the way that works best for them. They can use all the resources provided, or just a few–it helps them be champions for their department, company, and the profession. Then, incentivize participation by rewarding and recognizing those members who champion and promote the week.
Awareness weeks aren’t just for members—they’re an opportunity to engage all your stakeholders, partners, and sponsors in your cause, profession, or industry. Share your marketing kit to make it easy for them to participate, or invite them to show appreciation and recognition in various ways for the job your members do.
Many organizations choose to align awareness weeks with their advocacy and government affairs efforts. Use the week to highlight important issues, legislation, or regulations that affect your profession, or demonstrate the positive impact your members have on the industry with case studies and stats. You might ask your members to take additional action by connecting with policymakers, making a donation, or raising funds for a foundation.
Start Small and Build Momentum
Launching a successful awareness week campaign starts with a plan. Do your research about similar organizations or awareness days to ensure your purpose is unique. And the old adage, “timing is everything” rings true for awareness weeks.
When choosing the period for your awareness campaign, consider factors such as:
- Broader industry events that may impact engagement
- Periods of time that tend to have less member engagement or website activity
- Whether your largest event of the year should be part of awareness week activities or not
Make sure you keep your audience(s) in mind when developing your awareness week campaign. It’s OK to start small and build momentum over time. And don’t be afraid to get creative and push boundaries with new and different marketing approaches. Consider repurposing and reframing existing content, education, tools, and resources your organization already provides, and remember to encourage your members to co-promote. With any member initiative, set goals and measure engagement with campaign components such as social media, webpage visits, toolkit downloads, email rates, media attention, and more.
Awareness weeks empower your members to be a voice for your association’s mission and gets them involved in a way that doesn’t involve a purchase or attendance; it’s about celebration and championing a cause.
This article is based on content originally presented at the 2022 ASAE Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference.
Kevin Hurley and Kate Purdy are in Marketing & Communication Services at Smithbucklin.