A successful alumni organization relies on a strong marketing plan. Gaining new members, hosting events and encouraging regular interaction all require high levels of engagement to inform members of what’s happening within your network.
If your organization is playing it by ear when it comes to marketing, it’s worth taking the time to perform some exercises borrowed from the business world to create a strategy that will guide future communication efforts.
Let’s explore some of the key components to a great alumni marketing plan:
Form a marketing committee
Bring together a team committed to developing marketing goals and improving the organization’s reach. Use your network to find some help by tapping alumni who work in marketing, or those who are interested in getting more involved with the organization.
Evaluate other alumni organizations
Take a look at what other alumni organizations are doing to increase their marketing presence. Visit their websites and social networks to see how often they post. Watch other alumni groups you are a member of to see how well they engage you and your fellow members. Even if you’re representing a small school district, there’s plenty you can learn from exploring a large university’s alumni association website.
Know your value proposition
What do alumni gain by serving as an active member of your network? How will their lives be better as a result of participating in your events? To gain members, host successful events and maintain the organization, you need to be able to clearly articulate the answers to these questions. The answers will drive your marketing plan.
Create alumni personas
This is a fun exercise borrowed from the marketing world. With your team, brainstorm the types of people you want to engage (or don’t) through the alumni network. Think about the age, gender, location, career and level of interaction of different types of people in your network. Once you’ve created the personas, consider how you can best reach each persona through effective marketing.
Set SMART goals for growth
Set three marketing goals you can realistically achieve over the next year. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. For example, increasing your Facebook followers by 25 percent by next year is a terrific SMART goal. As you evaluate your plan and your goals each year, it will be easier to determine what realistic growth is for your organization and how well your efforts are succeeding.
Make your plan
It’s finally time to forge ahead with your marketing plan. Highlight events in the upcoming year, times when you want to push for membership and a schedule of how often you’ll post and where. Don’t forget to use your goals to drive your plan. Evaluate your plan regularly, and go through these exercises each year to refresh your strategy.