How to Maximize Your Marketing and Visibility Efforts
How is AAUW perceived in your community? Is that perception an accurate portrait of your branch? Effective marketing will help you attract new members, drive attendees to your events, and define your role in your community.
This resource will give membership vice presidents and leaders for your social media, website, communications, and programs tools to create an effective marketing plan and shape your branch brand for optimal effectiveness.
What Is Your Branch Brand?
The central component of marketing is your brand. The AAUW logo and tagline are just parts of what make up your branch’s identity. Your brand is who you are to the people outside of your organization. Think about the attributes and values you want to come to people’s minds when they see or hear about your branch: empowerment, equality, diversity, relevance, connection, and leadership. People will form this impression from your marketing materials and online presence, so it is important to get those right!
Develop a Marketing Plan
To effectively attract interest in your branch, you need a plan. Ask yourself and your committee these five questions before getting started on planning your branch marketing and outreach.
1. What are the goals of your outreach?
Your outreach efforts should give your target audience the specific information they need to hear to get them to do what you want them to do. Do you want them to come to an upcoming program? Then tell them what’s in it for them. Want them to join? Tell them what they will get out of their membership. It should not just be a blanket overview about AAUW as a whole.
2. Whom are you trying to attract?
The choices you make in planning your programs as well as how and where you market also tell your brand story. The public will use this information to decide if they are the right audience or not. For example, a seated dinner and formal dancing will appeal more to an older audience while a cocktail hour with live music might appeal to young professionals. College students may not be able to attend if you host programs far from campus or on the weekend.
3. Why would your audience say yes?
Think about different motivations, and focus on why your target audience might want to get involved with your branch. They may want to take action around AAUW’s mission, participate in professional development opportunities, give back to the community, or connect with like-minded people. Consider what your branch or your upcoming events have to offer a potential member, and use the relational recruitment method to ask people to get involved.
4. Where will you find your audience?
Go to places where your potential audience is typically found. Set up a table on a college campus or at a community event. Post marketing materials where your target audience will see them. Hang posters or place flyers in coffee shops, local workplaces, community centers, gyms, colleges, farmers markets, as well as online and in local newspapers. Collaborate with other organizations, college and university students, or community college students to maximize your reach!
5. Which materials will you need to get the word out about your branch?
Posters: Make them eye-catching and legible enough for someone to read in passing. See the Principles of Good Marketing below for design tips. Remember though, the poster should reference what’s in it for them!
Flyers: They must contain information that prospective members or program attendees can take home with them, such as details about upcoming mission-based programs. Print flyers on half or quarter sheets to save on printing costs, and spice them up with the right photos! See the Principles of Good Marketing below for design tips.
Giveaways: Entice prospective members with AAUW-branded pens, pencils, balloons, and even mints!
Branch website: This is the modern equivalent of your Yellow Pages ad! Information about upcoming meetings and programs should be prominent and up to date. Get your website reviewed for free by AAUW or created and maintained for only $119 annually.
Facebook and social media: Increase visibility and searchability by using social media. However, don’t solely rely on a Facebook event shared with your current network to effectively get the word out; posters and flyers should also direct people to your Facebook page and events. Need more help? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and put “social media assistance” in your subject line.
Local media: Work with the media, including your local newspaper, television, or radio stations, to share information about your programs with wider audiences.
Brochures: Always have membership brochures on hand for prospective members to take home with them or use to fill out applications for national or branch membership.
Business cards: Conclude your elevator pitch by handing out a business card with the contact information of your branch president and membership officer as well as the links to your social media and website.
Principles of Good Marketing
Follow these guidelines when designing marketing materials to post in your community or bring with you to outreach events.
Focus on your audience’s needs, not your wants.
Hook line. Draw your audience in with an appealing statement — a “hook” that appeals to their values and beliefs or their need for professional development and social inclusion. This is not the time to start with “Established in 1881, AAUW … .” You want to get people’s attention and encourage them to read on. Leading with a question also invites the reader to continue.
Audience-focused content. Focus on what your audience needs to know in order to participate in your branch. Use accessible, nontechnical language. Your audience is external, so your marketing materials shouldn’t have organization-specific, internal language. You don’t need to give all of the details about your branch and your mission — those are things they can learn about once they start coming to your meetings or your programs!
Hierarchy of text. Make sure that the most appealing, important information is first. Use different sized fonts and colors to focus your audience’s attention.
Make a clear “ask.”
Call to action. Be clear about what you want the audience to do after viewing your marketing materials. For example, feature the date of your next branch meeting or program prominently, or direct them to the Facebook event where they can RSVP. The goal of your marketing and visibility efforts should be about more than just informing your community about AAUW — your materials should be about getting more people to attend your events and contribute to your branch’s fundraising efforts!
Implement visual appeal.
Good images. Show real people doing real things, and use photos that are specific to the event you are hosting. If you do not have photos from your branch, find photos online or design a creative background. Conduct a Google image search of similar programs or events for ideas. Though you cannot plagiarize other posters or images, seeing examples can help you think about what looks most appealing and incorporate these elements into your own design.
White space. Your audience may get overwhelmed with too much text and images, so try to find a balance of information, design, and white space. “White space” doesn’t have to be white — just free of text and images!
Consistent AAUW style and colors. Use consistent AAUW style and colors on all posters, flyers, and presentations. Invest in AAUW logo materials, such as banners and table covers, for programs and external events. And don’t forget to give logo items for speaker gifts and other thank-yous. Why? Because those individuals then have the AAUW logo on their desks to show their AAUW connection to everyone who visits.
AAUW Member Leadership Programs intern Miranda Bard contributed to this post.
Get started using social media to promote your branch.
Images can stop people in their tracks and help tell your story when words don’t.
This tool kit has been prepared to assist members, branches, and states in presenting a consistent brand identity for AAUW.