Who is selling your association, an experienced Pro, or a clerk? Did you hire a communications major fresh out of college with no practical experience or do you have a Grey Beard? I recently received this email solicitation from a sizable trade association. I've got to tell you, it hurt me deeply as I navigated the mediocre. I kept thinking, "And they sell with this kind of copy?" Take a look and then answer thus simple question, "Would you bite?"
The International XXX Association would like to invite your company to be part of our association. XXX offers various benefits to Associate Members that would enhance business with current XXX suppliers, while increasing your company's visibility in a global market.
As an Associate Member of the International XXX Association you will receive the following services:
1. Free year-round listing on XXX's website (including your logo) at ---.---.org.
Be a part of the industry's most complete resource for information on the International XXX + XXX Show, the Association and the industry, links to all member websites.
2. Opportunity to purchase an electronic file of XXX member companies to use in promoting your services to more than 1,600 organizations in the XXX industry.
3. Put your products or services in front of 60,000 XXX leaders. Participate in the International XXX + XXX Show, March XXX, 20XX as an exhibitor in the Industry Service Provider Pavilion, a special destination created for third-party providers who specialize in business solutions for all supply chain participants. The Industry Service Pavilion is located in the South Building adjacent to XXX section and XXX and XXX. Discounted booth space is given to members, member rate of $13.00 per square foot, (non-members rate $18.00 per square foot).
4. Your company logo and company's affiliation published in XXX Reports (monthly XXX member email newsletter) in the July and December issue.
5. A discount for members for XXX Business magazine classified section.
6. Sponsors opportunities at the 20XX International XXX + XXX Show.
We hope XXX's services will assist your company in saving time and money, while increasing networking opportunities. If you have any questions regarding membership please visit ---.---.org or contact XXX XXX at XXX or "XXX@---.org"
Thank you for your time and attention and we look forward to working closely with you in the future.
Manager, Member Services. Sales however I truly believe it to be appropriate in this situation. This association is trying to get me to exhibit and become a "supplier" member. As I read this letter the first thing that came into my mind is, "What's in it for me?" Then I thought, "Can I make any money if I bite?" Finally, I was heart broken with the "thrift shop quality" of what I was being offered.
Especially in a difficult economic time like we are currently facing, when will trade associations start selling value and stop just listing features? When will trade associations hire competent copy writers?
Your Web Site
Quickly-do it now-go to your association's web site and click on the "member benefits" tab. Do you see any statements of true benefits-how membership in your association will make my/their life better? Or, do you read something else? Something like a list of bullet points that describes your offering without translation to personal or company value delivery?
Supplier members want to know if they are going to get a reasonable return on their dollar and time investment. Trust me, in this day and age, suppliers are quite tired of just "supporting the industry." The same goes for various other industry members. Where's the BEEF? You had better know the answer to that question-especially in a time when you are experiencing membership hemorrhaging.
If this disgraceful effort, as shown above, is all that is put into "selling" to vendors, what do you think is being done to motivate current members to remain or other industry people to join? I bet, as you are reading this you are thinking, "We do so much better." Really, no kidding, is that so?
In difficult economic times especially, we all must focus on delivering high levels of actual value to our customers. Actual value is defines as the kind of value that is needed by the customer as opposed to the value the seller thinks the customer needs. And for associations, to your members; you must deliver yearly sustainable real-dollar value. You ask them to pay dues each year, do you not? What are they getting each year in return for their dollar and time investment in your association?
In order to reasonably to turn the above prospecting letter's features into benefits, all that would have had to be done is to determine what each item means in dollars and cents yearly sustainable value-savings or potential income to the prospective supplier.
Oh but that would take a few minutes. Gosh, you are right-who am I to make such a silly suggestion?
I'm Quentin and I.
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