Corporate Marketing Strategies For Nonprofits

Chief Marketing Officer Suzanne Carawan of HighRoad Solution explains how association marketers can take a cue from their corporate counterparts to brand better.

You may not be aiming to be the next Nike or Coke, but Suzanne Carawan, chief marketing officer of e-messaging service provider HighRoad Solution, says corporate marketing strategies are making their way into association marketing—for the better.

Associations Now: What's one area in which association and corporate marketing differ?

Carawan: In corporate marketing, one of the big things that the marketing person is responsible for is developing the brand, doing lead generations. This means saying, "We have to grow, and we have to have more people coming to us," or in association terms, "We have to convert more people into members." In the world of associations, that role is within the membership department, but a lot of them have not been trained in the principles of lead generation.

How is association marketing becoming more like its corporate counterpart?

Now, everything is user-defined, meaning the member has all the control. It's very similar to what has gone on over the last 10 years in the corporate marketing side, where everybody is reengineering and realigning to this idea that it's on [the customer's] terms. If they want to look you up at 2 a.m. and interact with you, you have to be set up and ready to do that.

What can associations learn from corporate marketing?

People know that they can get networking and education somewhere else. So you have to break through that noise and give them something that is going to uniquely benefit them personally—so they don't say, "This is something I want to do," but rather, "This is something I have to do."

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Brand Better" in the print edition.]