Often when I am talking to a company’s marketing department, they tell me how strongly they feel about social media – blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. I agree that these are good communication tools, and that there is a large portion of our population (particularly younger Americans) who use social media as their exclusive source of information.
While social media, blogs, and the Internet are tremendous vehicles for many groups and many market segments, this is not necessarily the best way to get the message out to members of nonprofit associations. Marketing professionals also need to consider the demographics of the group that they are trying to reach – and by all means “… meet them on their own terms.”
When I say this, some people look at me like I just got out of my horse and buggy. They tell me, “I’ll bet you even still read a newspaper,” and yes, they are correct, I actually do almost every day. What they need to grasp is that I am very representative of the demographic to which they want to market their products and/or services.
Our association is populated with many small to medium-sized, privately held, family-owned (even into the second and third generations), “Sub-S” corporations, and sole proprietorships. These businesses are currently being led by men and women in their 50s, 60s, and, yes even 70s. And our association has been publishing our own trade publication, with a circulation that goes well beyond just our own membership. It is an award-winning publication that has had a very successful and long track record, and it is 60 years old. Many of our members don’t even remember a time when they did not see our magazine regularly mailed to their families’ place of business. They still faithfully read our magazine, and they look to it for industry news and articles on many aspects concerning their businesses. And they also see advertisements from many of the suppliers that they have come to know and trust.
They must realize that many of the people that they are trying to reach don’t have a “social media profile” and don’t even know what one is. And if you explained to them what it is, they would not be interested in having one. They have never heard of SnapChat, Instagram, Flickr, and Facebook and they will not look at these sources as reliable.
I will admit that by using social media platforms you can hope that the younger managers and leaders in an organization will receive the message and it will “percolate” it to the top – to the C-level offices in the small and medium-sized companies. But that is not always the case, and the message can be lost in translation.
Take your message to the people that you want to receive it. Do not write off and instantly eschew magazines – they may well deliver the niche market audience that you seek.