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Leveraging trade associations


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Do you use trade associations for b2b marketing? This white paper by SmartBrief demonstrates the potential value of these organizations to your marketing efforts.

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Leveraging trade associations

  1. 1. 1Leveraging Trade Associations forB2B MarketingTrade associations do a lot more than hostconventions and publish membershipmagazines.Associationsalsohaveresourcesand connections that make them valuablepartners for B2B marketers.Learn how to use these essentialorganizations to improve your company’sreputation,developrelationshipswithC-levelprofessionals and tap into reliable, in-depthknowledge about your industry that canguide your marketing efforts.jump to a pageImprove Your Reputation 3Connect With Strong Networksof Decision Makers 4Access Reputable Data About the Industry 5Conclusion 6
  2. 2. 3 4Whichofthefollowingwouldbemostbeneficialtoyourbusinessoverthelongterm?Superior ororiginal productStrong,informativeWeb contentAggressive salesforce48%30%9%13%Strong onlinepresencePoll ofreaders fromSmartBrief onSmallBusiness,SmartBrief onEntrepreneurs,and SmartBriefon Main StreetPoll ofreaders fromSmartBrief onSmallBusiness,SmartBrief onEntrepreneurs,and SmartBriefon Main StreetConnect with Strong Networks of Decision MakersA new networkof individualprospectsA better-qualifiedaudience todirect advertisingefforts atReliable, first-hand informationabout industryproblems andtrends30%34%25%12%An enhancedreputation in yourindustryImprove Your ReputationA trade association representsthe ideals of an industry. Leadingcompanies like to associatethemselves with those ideals-- not only because it’s the rightthing to do, but also because itimprovestheirstandingwithintheirindustries.That’s why the logos of the biggest corporationsappear prominently at trade shows, conventionsand training events organized by tradeassociations. It’s also why it behooves B2Bmarketerstoexploretheopportunitiesofworkingwith trade associations.“In almost every case, [an] association hascredibility in the market,” says JP Moery,president of MoeryLAI, a consultancy that helpstrade associations meet their goals. “They bringtogether the most influential people in the space.As a marketer, that’s who I want to reach most ofthe time.”Trade associations cannot afford to playfavorites, which makes them a trusted ally ofB2B marketers hoping to enhance a company’sreputation among its peers. “The agnostic voiceof a trade association is key,” says Julie Van Ullen,vice president for member services at IAB, theInteractive Advertising Bureau. Partnering withatradeassociationcreatesascenarioinwhichB2Bmarketers can discuss a company and its productsasknowledgeableindustryleadersratherthanjustone more business with a pitch, Van Ullen says.From a marketer’s perspective, the biggestnames in an industry have a strong motivationto co-sponsor events, research and efforts toestablish certification standards. “The abilityto claim a thought-leadership role within a tradeorganization can be a real differentiator for acompany,” Van Ullen says.Themarketingchannelsfortradeassociations--conventions,newsletters,seminars,membershipmagazines -- can be powerful venues formarketers hoping to place advertisements wherethey’llseenbythehighestechelonsinanindustry.“There’s a reasonable chance they’re actuallygoing to be paying attention and see your ad,”saysElizabethEngel,CEOandchiefstrategistatSparkConsulting.Alludingtothefamousadagethat half of an advertising budget goes to waste,but the ad buyer never knows which half, Engelsays that when ads target association leaders,there’s a “better-than-average chance that thisisn’t the half that’s wasted.”Van Ullen points to a host of ways companiescan work with trade associations to benefit theirindustries while burnishing their brands. IAB,forinstance,hasprogramsfordigitalsalespeople,ad operations departments, vendors to ensurebrand safety, and more. “These opportunitiescan really set an organization and its employeesapart,” she says.TIP: Associations bring together the most influential people in amarket.Trade associations can give B2Bmarketers some of their bestaccesstocompanyleaderswhoaredecidingwhichproductsarechosenand which are declined. Theseleaders are also some of the mostengaged people in the industry.One example published in B2B Magazineillustrated how Toshiba America MedicalSystems,aproviderofdiagnosticimagingsystems,used trade associations to build contacts withleaders of the largest companies in its targetmarket. Toshiba’s systems often cost more than$1 million, so top executives of health carecompanies typically have to be brought into thebuying process.Toshiba used trade association contacts to reachthe leadership of hospitals and other healthcare providers. It also partnered with a tradeassociation to create a grant to help hospitals andimaging centers improve patient care. A Toshibarepresentative said the company’s sales rose 11%overafive-yearspanthatsawwidespreaddeclinesin the industry.Trade associations can also help you buildthe sort of broad networks that reflect howorganizationsmakedecisionstoday.It’snotaboutfinding that one go-to person inside a company,Moery cautions. “A lot of these decisions aremore collaborative than ever before. ‘Get to thedecision maker’ isn’t accurate,” he says. “Rarelyare there decisions made by a single person.”Instead, marketers should want to connect withtwo or three people involved in the decision-making process. “You get multiple bites at theapple that way,” Moery says.Moery encourages connecting with tradeassociation leaders involved in lobbying andagenda-setting for the industry. “Marketersshould align with what’s valued by members,including policy work,” he says.B2B marketers developing these connectionsneed to bear in mind how trade associationswork, says Steven Mandurano, global lead formarketing communications and public relationsfor the Merchant Risk Council.“Trade associations are not corporate America,”says Mandurano, who has worked with tradeassociations for more than five years. “Many ofthe boards are made up of volunteer leaders whomaynotbeexperiencedinbusinessfundamentals.“The good news, above all else, is that manyassociations have the flexibility to approve andmove forward on specific projects.”Trade associations can be an important bridgebetween B2B marketers and industry thoughtleaders, but it’s up to the marketing folks tomake the most of these connections. Events,committees meetings, town halls and webinarsgoonlysofar.“Weplaymatchmaker,”VanUllensays, “but it’s up to you to get the second date.”TIP: Aim to connect with everyone who is involved in the decision-makingprocess.Whatisyourcompany’sstrongestassetindrivingleadsandsales?
  3. 3. 5 6B2B marketers who attend conventions, scanindustry blogs daily and sign up for trainingseminars already enjoy the value that tradeassociationsaddfortheirmembers.It’sonlyasmallstep from there to start tapping the associations’ability to enhance a company’s reputationand provide reliable data to drive marketingcampaigns.And, finally, working with trade associations isgoodforeverybodyfromthefloorsweeperstotheC-suite executives. As Van Ullen puts it, “a wiseman once said, ‘the needs of the many outweighthe needs of the few,’ and being a part of a largermembership body allows for collective problemsolving that helps raise all boats.”We are the industry leader in curated business news.Serving over 5 million senior executives, thought leaders, and industry professionals, SmartBrief isthe leading online publisher of targeted business news and information by industry. By combiningtechnology and editorial expertise, SmartBrief filters thousands of sources daily to deliver the mostrelevant industry news in partnership with more than 180 trade associations, professional societies,nonprofits and corporate entities.Visit for more detailsAccess Reputable Data About the IndustryReliable data is critical todeveloping an authoritativeB2B marketing campaign. Tradeassociations can be an excellentresource because they frequentlysurveytheirmembershipandgleanwisdomaboutthemarketplacethatmight not be available anywhereelse.“A big charge of most trade organizations isto produce statistically important research andinsights members can use to better hone theirproducts and buy and sell more efficiently,” VanUllen says. “Particularly now, technology is abig driver of creativity for marketers but theproliferation can be confusing.” Understandingthe possible solutions can help a marketer get aleg up on the technology, Van Ullen says.Mandurano says marketers who participate insurveys, industry discussions and networkingevents can gain access to industry metrics,benchmarking information and other valuabledata that can drive sales. “However, the key isbeing involved and active,” he says.Trade associations often can adapt to a widearray of data requests. “The most progressive oforganizationsaremakingtheirinformationopento marketers,” Moery says. Get the associationon the phone and tell its representatives exactlywhat you want and let the organization developits best customized proposal, he advises“If you’ve had a tactic that’s worked with otherpartners, ask for that,” Moery says. ”If you haveinterestingcontent,whitepapers,etc.,talktotheassociation about how to release that.”Intoday’scomplextechnologicalecosystem,VanUllen says, trade associations can clarify howto most effectively find and connect with yourconsumers. “People are consuming more thanever, across multiple screens, so finding the bestways to streamline a conversation with yourconsumers is vital,” Van Ullen says.B2B marketers need to do their homework andtrack the conversations that have the largestinfluenceontheirbusiness.“Andwhenyoujoinatradeassociation,becognizantofyourresourcesand assign them wisely,” Van Ullen says. “Themore deeply engaged you become in the topicsthat matter to you most, the better.”Manduranosumsuptheappealofcollaboratingwith trade associations.“As they say, ‘the value of one, the power ofall,’ ” he says. Associations can be a rallyingpoint, “bringing all of the players together forthoughtful dialogue that supports everyone’sneeds.”Ifyourmarketing/salesbudgetincreased20percent,onwhichwouldyoumostlikelyspendit?OnlineadvertisingSEOEventsponsorship29%28%13%18%Print marketingDoesyourcompanypublishany“thoughtleadership”material?NoneWe’ve done a fewpublications overthe years.Contentmarketing is asizable partof ourmarketing mix.35%29%17%19%We regularlycompleteresearch reportsand major contentprojects.11%Publications -research andproductionConclusion86%68%Trade Associations valueSmartBrief as an integral part oftheir daily news consumption.Find it important to demonstratethought leadership in theirprofessional industry.5.5 Million Subscriptions180+ Partners /Associations1,047Advertisers