mobile logo


featured image

Associations, Don’t Cannibalize Your Advertisers: Balancing NDR and Ad Sales!


They are being hunted: companies that market to an association’s membership, that is. Within a short span of time, the same association may approach a single prospect with a host of opportunities:

  • Association publishers may offer print and digital advertisements.
  • Conference promoters may try to sell a company an exhibition table.
  • The association’s education team may pitch sponsorship opportunities.

While each can drive revenue for an association, they also have the potential to pull resources and dollars away from one another and to exhaust the interest and goodwill of a prospect. This is the concept of cannibalization.

Don’t let the fear of cannibalizing your advertisers gnaw at you. Learn how to avoid problems through careful coordination and communication.

Focus on Win-Win

Inherent in an advertising relationship is the idea that your association is providing value. When an advertiser begins to feel as though it isn’t receiving or being offered a fair value, it may begin to doubt the whole relationship.

Ad sales management should be focused on what serves both the advertiser and the organization best. This concept should be at the core of every engagement, pitch, and implementation. Association publishers should offer advertising packages that will provide the right ROI; sponsorships should get companies the attention that they expect; and so on.

Ensuring that there is value in every offer to an advertiser is not just a good way to keep faith with these companies. It’s also a much easier path to expanding their marketing spend with your entire organization.

Plan Strategically

Your advertising sales strategy should be part of an overall association strategy. The different teams that make up your association—membership, events, publications, and so forth—should work together to develop a shared understanding of what the priorities are.

Together, you can:

  • Establish the goals that you want to achieve individually.
  • Look for ways that these goals support one another.
  • Choose targets that can benefit from several of the marketing opportunities your association offers.
  • Decide when and how to pursue prospects.

Association publishers that collaborate with other teams often learn information that can help them with ad sales. For example, they might offer a “conference ad package” for a print publication that launches shortly before a big association event. This combines publication and conference opportunities in a way that adds greater value than the sum of their parts.

Use a Single Voice

When an ad sales team speaks with a potential advertiser, it should be able to represent other areas of the organization. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the ad sales team becomes responsible for selling conference sponsorships. However, it should be capable of laying the groundwork so that the advertiser is aware of this opportunity.

Speaking in one voice for the organization requires some preparation. An ad sales team needs to be familiar with all of the other areas of the organization, and this preparation often takes place behind the scenes with internal meetings; ongoing updates; and cross-functional groups.

While there is some effort involved, taking these measures can both grow revenue for the organization and ensure that advertisers view the association as well-organized and professional. This can lead to an increased ad buy.

Offer Complimentary Exposure

Despite an association publisher’s best efforts, advertisers may eventually feel nickeled and dimed, especially if they are asked to pay for a host of additional marketing opportunities when they’ve already invested a lot.

An advertising sales team needs to balance its selling activities with other non-dues revenue. After developing a strategy as described above, the team should know what it can afford to give away in order to maintain or restore goodwill. This might be an item like a free banner advertisement, a complimentary sponsorship, or a mention during a membership event.

Whatever your ad sales team chooses, it should offer items that are free, impactful, and affordable to your organization. Then, the team should do it frequently enough to make the relationship feel more equal to your advertisers. An investment like this can save your skin in the long run.

Only you can prevent cannibalization. If your association wants a more effective approach to advertising sales, get in touch with AdBoom Advertising

Share this story

AdBoom Advertising helps organizations ignite their ad sales through print, digital, and conference opportunities. Explore our ad sales resources.


Receive AdBoom’s Advertising Sales Tips, and get more advice from the Ad Sales Blog.

Subscribe to AdBoom Advertising