Looking to launch or reboot your association’s partnership programs? Here are three tips to get you started.

By Chris Schriever

While the terms ‘partnership’ and ‘sponsor’ are often used interchangeably, a sponsorship tends to be transactional, focusing on one-off events or items, whereas a partnership refers to a higher-level relationship between a company and an association. Partnerships require a deeper commitment on behalf of both the association and partnering company. Typically, full-year partnership programs include multiple platform elements and lay the foundation for greater success. The multi-platform reach creates greater visibility and member engagement. It’s truly the only way a six, or even seven, figure partnership between a corporation and association delivers value for all the stakeholders.

1. Create a program that serves your members and supports the overall mission.  

By aligning the program with the association’s mission, you add value for members. Creating a program that helps and/or supports a member with the day-to-day operations of their company adds value to the association, the member and participating sponsor or partner. Anything else might provide a short-term gain, but lacks sustaining growth potential.

2. Understand your partners’ needs and develop custom programs that address them.

Creating unique packages is easier than it sounds. It requires both an understanding of each of the association’s marketing opportunities and the ability to work closely with potential partners to understand their needs as well.

First, consider all of the opportunities available within the association: websites for advertising, eNews for sponsored content or advertising, webinars for sponsorship, advertising in magazines, sponsorships at leadership summits, exhibiting at seminars or annual conferences, etc.  

Second, set out to truly grasp the goals of a potential partner. This understanding can lead to the creation of a compelling package that will deliver the message to the right member subset. Not only are partners more likely to sign on to a thoughtful program tailored to their goals, but the program will also prove more effective than a one-size fits all approach.

3. Keep the conversation going to increase member engagement and improve ROI. 

By incorporating a mix of opportunities that provide meaningful visibility all year round, the partnering company will have the chance to continuously make an impression on your membership. But it is also up to you to strategically build on that engagement throughout the year. Test the success of the opportunities and help the sponsor improve their ROI with an informative 1-3 question survey on social media, or private member platforms. Support the program by connecting the dots to show members how the partner’s mission aligns with that of the association and how the resources offered through the partner help members grow. Be strategic in your approach and be thorough. Once the program is sold, your job has just begun. Throughout the length of the program, you’ll need to monitor and adjust to ensure that the association and its membership as well as the partner all walk away with clear cut value.

Multi-platform, strategic programs can helpmeetthe increasing demand for more content and services among association members. And by creatively developing partnership programs that provide real solutions for all parties, you can ensure that the association has the funding and resources it needs to thrive in addition to helping your partners reach new audiences. 

Want to learn more? Get in touch today.