There’s never enough time in the day, especially for association professionals. It’s common for association staff to wear multiple hats, consistently switching roles in order to get more done with fewer resources. A membership director also helps with event planning and updating the website, for instance.
The benefit of this situation is your staff knows everything about every part of your association. The downside is your team probably can’t do everything they want to. Your staff is short on time and, with so few employees, you may not have the expertise to take on all the projects you want.
That’s okay. Professional services can pick up where you leave off, providing short-term assistance or helping out over the long haul. Here are four professional services that can lessen the burden on your staff, helping you do more in less time and, ultimately, saving you money through quality work.
1. Web Design
According to research compiled by Ironpaper, 94% of people cite web design as the reason they mistrust or reject a website. If your staff doesn’t have experience in web design or enough time to devote to site architecture, content, and hosting services, you risk becoming part of that statistic.
Instead of taking that risk, consider hiring a professional web designer or agency to create an attractive website that draws members and prospects in. Professional web designers have an expert eye and plenty of experience. They can map out and design your responsive website with an attractive, easy-to-navigate layout that fits your brand and inspires trust in visitors.
When choosing a designer, ook for well-known companies or partners who regularly work with your CMS provider. They’ll already have the system experience to design and launch your website quickly.
2. Community Management
Like your website, an online community needs to be well-designed with the user in mind. It also needs a long-term strategy, beta testing, content, and consistent attention to ensure members receive value. All those elements provide a great member experience, which can help increase member acquisition, retention, and revenue.
But while community management is often a fun job that gets great results, it’s also a lot of work. It can be especially tough if you have never been trained in community management or if it is only a portion of your job.
To help offset a lack of time and experience, many associations hire expert community managers. These professionals provide services such as posting articles and spurring new member-generated forum threads in your online community, as well as answering community questions. Additionally, community managers create and distribute newsletters, moderate community activity, and generate reports about member engagement.
Community management services are often available from online community software providers and can be used for short or long time periods. Short-term contracts often focus on fine tuning your strategy and getting your community up and running. Long-term community managers, on the other hand, act as extensions of your in-house staff, helping you increase engagement on a daily basis.
3. Event Planning
Associations frequently rely on their annual conference or chapter events to increase participation and bring in revenue. But planning even a small event is detailed work and can be incredibly time-consuming, which is why on-staff meeting planners need all the help they can get. Professional event planners to supplement your own team or do the heavy lifting, so you can focus on delivering value and connecting with your members.
Service providers offer event planning, management, and execution packages. You can bring people on to help with just a few tasks like contract negotiation and housing coordination, or event planners can see your event through from start to finish. You can even get registration and chapter event support. Additional services may include event booth and sponsorship sales.
Meeting planners know all the tricks of the trade, including the best event locations, hotels, and times to hold conferences. By outsourcing your entire event, or even just augmenting your existing team where needed, you’ll gain this extra, professional expertise.
4. Photos and Video
Content with images produces 650 percent higher engagement that text alone and, by 2019, video will make up nearly 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic. That makes visual content essential for engaging your members.
You can easily create your own photo and video content by taking pictures at your events or filming a Facebook Live clip – something you’ve probably already done. But more advanced productions benefit from expert attention.
Professional videographers, photographers, and multimedia editors can put together polished content that takes a deeper dive into your association’s benefits, products, and projects. If you have one or more large projects, go to an agency that specializes in video content. For smaller pieces, consider hiring freelance or contract professionals. They often provide better rates and are flexible enough to take on small or sporadic projects.
Choose Service Providers that Know Your Software and Fit Your Budget
Small associations with limited staff and budgets often get the greatest benefit from professional services, but even fully-staffed associations don’t have to go it alone. Hiring industry experts frees up staff time and provides quality work, giving you more for your money.
These services don’t have to be expensive, either. By purchasing services individually, you can pick and choose what your association needs to make the most of its resources, including your staff and their expertise. Choose services that compliment your staff, and you’ll improve your employees’ jobs and give them more time to focus on the work they do best – serving your members.