Organizations provide useful content to their members through many channels – content marketing at its best.

But what qualifies as ‘useful’ has changed in the face of the abundance of information available on the web, which is often free, and also due to the changing face of membership.

Many association magazines are received as part of the membership dues and this indirect relationship can result in lessened engagement with your publication. That combined with the ever-changing consumer habits indicates that the way in which association magazines are curated, leveraged and marketed needs to evolve.

In an Internet-exclusive episode of Music Business Radio, Seth Godin discussed his ideas about the music business, which has certainly been facing a crisis of evolution.

MBR listed these three of the ‘shocking’ ideas that Seth offered about the music business:

  • the Internet is the biggest radio of all time;
  • buyers have decided that they’re not going to pay for music the same way they used to, and;
  • being ‘signed’ offers no advantage over being independent.

I imagine that was scary stuff to music execs, but change happens and we have heard it many times: you evolve or die. Association execs have some frightful futures to consider too, they are also facing a crisis of evolution. Staying relevant in the hyper-connected business environment demands new ways of engagement.

What are the shocking ideas for associations? Here are our four:

  1. A lot of your most valuable content must be available to nonmembers (aka prospects).
  2. Crowdsource content ideas in addition to your content from your members. The line where your association stops and the membership starts needs to blur.
  3. Your content calendar should be driven by your sales and marketing needs, which means the association’s short-term business goals.
  4. Partner with your competitors: it will make each of you better, deliver more value to your audiences, and help you recognize where you should be focused to remain the leader in your niche.

Associations invest in creating magazines to provide information that their members value in order to keep them as members. And retention is the name of the game. Because if they stay, they do so for a reason that underscores your value. Almost anyone can get a new member — but can they keep them?