MGI Tipster Volume 1, Issue 1

Do you know…advertising sales is an important but often overlooked source of association income?

While associations are accustomed to having member dues support their operations, they sometimes overlook important sources of non-dues income. One particularly valuable revenue stream is advertising sales. Even when associations have considered advertising sales, in-house staff may not have had the time or resources to grow ad sales to their full potential. That’s why it may be smart to outsource advertising sales to professionals practiced in developing and implementing sales plans specifically designed for associations and sensitive to their members.

Tip: When managed by experts, experience proves that an association’s advertising sales revenue can thrive.


Besides increasing association income, boosting advertising sales offers associations several added advantages. Strong ad sales help build relationships and alliances for associations. They add prestige and recognition to the publications where they appear. They help associations reach out to wider communities. And they bring information and ideas to members so the association is seen as serving them better. As advertisers more often recognize the value of targeted marketing, association members can be particularly attractive audiences.

Tip: Association advertising should be appropriate to the membership, both in what it promotes as well as in the presentation and look it conveys.


An action plan begins with a thorough evaluation of association publications, member communications, newsletters,web site, and event programs to pinpoint growth opportunities. This includes a review of past and current advertising to develop strategies to expand audiences, improve results, and grow revenue. At the same time, the association’s membership is examined to discover the products and services members value most.

Tip: It usually pays to have an outside consultant perform this review so it will be unbiased and seen with fresh eyes.


Once advertising sales strategies are mapped out, the tactics begin, such as developing prospect lists and targeting primary accounts. It takes time and practice to gain access to decision-makers and present professional-quality proposals. They must appeal to advertisers’ objectives as well as maintain association goals. Finally, skilled negotiation should lead to agreement on both the contract terms and price. But just as important as the sale is the service afterward to make sure that specifications are precise and deadlines are met. Plus, it is critical to develop and maintain a strong relationship between the association and the advertiser so that business will continue in the future.

Tip: Researching, targeting prospects, making presentations, negotiating terms, and providing follow-up all require the skills of an experienced professional.


Beyond advertising sales, don’t overlook the design of the advertising artwork. Designing specifically for associations and their members requires understanding of the uniqueness and nuances of the marketplace. At the same time, the advertisements must incorporate design elements that attract attention and encourage readership both in publications and on websites. All of the artwork in this month’s Tipster is taken from association advertisements conceived and designed by Marketing General Inc.

Tip: Advertisements can be turned into direct marketing pieces by including a response mechanism in the ad.

Posted in: