Marketing by collaborating with member organizations is a proven and successful marketing channel, provided that you are working with the member organizations that will deliver customers that are profitable for your brand. Member groups provide a great diversity of consumers – some are a rich source of new customers, while others provide minimal return.
As you look for new affinity partnerships you should consider a few issues before a smooth and effective lead generation process can be set in place. First, there is no single master list of potential affinity partners. Once you have discovered the right organization to solicit, you then need to find the right people or contacts within the organization, just like any other B2B marketer. We have assisted affinity marketers in successfully addressing these challenges. Let’s step through a 5-step process to discover the right person in the right member organizations that fit your marketing objectives.
1. Establish your affinity target criteria
These criteria are needed to both identify good marketing targets as well as establish the decisive test criteria to assess a candidate’s partnership value to you. The criteria we have established at SIGMA are:
- Size of the member organization
- Affinity strength or relationship with its members
- Exclusiveness of the agreement (can you be the only provider of your service?)
- Similarity of the typical affinity member to the profile of your best customers.
These criteria may not fit exactly for your organization, but should provide you with an understanding of the types of criteria that are useful.
2. List/segment possible affinity organizations
We find it important to work with specialized list vendors to augment the large national business listing we use as the backbone for our prospect list identification. The segmentation is critical to help focus your efforts and to group organizations with similar member relationships. The segment or groupings that we have used are:
- General clubs and associations
- Credit unions
- Professional organizations
- National associations
- Sports clubs and organizations
- Large employee group organizations
- Fraternities and alumni organizations
- Associations and financial institutions
3. Define primary market for affinity partner prospects
In this step, we develop a scoring scheme to assess each of the organizations in the prospect universe. Here we are simply trying to place the organizations into one of four tiers or levels, from A – highly desirable to D – very little interest, with scale points in between. We try to understand what member benefits organizations are offering to their members – information that is often available on the websites of a sampling of organizations in each category. We pay particular attention to services that are competitive or compatible to our client’s products. On completing this step, you will have defined the prospect universe and will have segmented by their relative value to you.
4. Obtain contact information on decision makers
Many sources can assist you in identifying likely decision makers. It is important to identify relevant business titles; it all starts with identifying which titles or words within a title are relevant for contact. We have found that it is more effective to contact a particular person, even if that person is not the right one, as they often will help us locate the right person.
5. Conduct decision maker identification
You will need to conduct decision maker identification, which means calling your prospects and asking if they are responsible for determining the services that are provided to the members. It may take a while to network to the right people who can influence a service partner relationship. We have found that it is wise to have multiple entry points into the organization because the decision is normally a team effort.
Hopefully you have found these 5 steps we have identified to provide some value.
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