As a leader in several professional and member non-profits over the years, American Marketing Association, Boston Agile Marketing etc. I've received several unsolicited emails from companies about asking help to market their product, service or more usually their event.
The company might be coming into town and wants to increase attendance at their event. So, they reach out to local professional organizations, and ask them if in return for being a media partner, the company or organization will provide a discount to the professional organization's members.
This adds value, right?
Well no, it adds value to the company or organization giving the discount, and the member gets a small discount. But the member organization doesn’t receive much value, except the discount to their membership. And any marketing to the membership may turn off members, so there’s some costs to marketing.
If a company were to sponsor your group. Or market the group beyond a link on a website. Then there is some value given in exchange for the years of work the non-profit has put into growing their membership. But unless there's a substantial return, I don't think non-profits should sell themselves short.
Think of this from the nonprofit’s perspective, while a discount is appreciated, it doesn't help the organization, as the organization cannot transfer any value to the members directly. Rather a small discount works well for the company seeking to find attendees because every discount is only given when there is a conversion, so instead of having to spend money on marketing, you pay a small amount, which is only redeemed when a conversion occurs. This is a huge ROI for your marketing efforts.
Instead of a discount, what of value can a company offer a member organization as well as the members in return?
· Promote the member organization in every email, show some actual value to the member organization.
· Put the member organization on the home page of the event.
· Sponsor the member organization in some other way in return for the promotion.