[ American Advertising Federation District 7 ]
AAF Baton Rouge
AAF-Baton Rouge is not far off from where we were this time last year, membership-wise, despite the pandemic. We expected to lose a good chunk of membership due to the uncertainty of the economy, jobs, and the inability to gather in person as we used to. Initially, to offset this, we instituted a $50 COVID credit for new memberships and membership renewals, to help ease the burden of the cost.
Although we did lose some members, we gained some new ones. Many of whom were starting a new job and wanted to network more, but also via a new multi-layered goal we started. We noticed some pushback from some of our AAA sponsors, especially with the restrictions of the pandemic, that they did not feel that they were getting enough out of their sponsorships, so in an effort to make them feel more appreciated, we invited them to nominate an employee of theirs to come to sit on our board. This would get them a closer look at the running of the club and get them more involved. This also increased our membership numbers since those nominees were not already members. Another benefit to this initiative was getting new board members involved from a variety of facets of advertising, where traditionally, our board is rather designer-heavy.
AAF Birmingham heated things up for membership in May to wrap 2020-22 up with a bang. Our May Membership Mixer at the Roof was a big hit with participants lingering long after the event wrapped up. As the first in-person event of the year for our club, the mixer played out in the middle of downtown Birmingham’s popular business district with skyscrapers and a beautiful sunset in view for the perfect setting. A raffle was held for current and new members to enter if they had received their Covid-19 vaccine. As if planned (but not!), top honors went to a new member as well as to an active past president, keeping things in a good mix. AAF Birmingham also accepted donations for area colleges and universities as we build scholarship funds for each school. Members received newly branded nametags, drink tickets, and perfect weather to promote AAF Birmingham membership. The mixer was such a success, we are already planning to have more just like it for face-to-face networking and fun.
Starting the 2020-2021 year in July with four months of Covid-19 behind us, we knew this year was going to be challenging. We knew we would have to shift our focus as luncheons were changing to virtual events and happy hour/networking events were all put on hold. Strategically, we had already begun planning for a different type of year.
In June 2020, our Executive Committee and Past Presidents held a workshop to develop our new value proposition statement – AAF Memphis aims to connect, uplift, and amplify the voices of all members of our local advertising community. With this vision, our Membership Committee reached out across the industry to gain key insights from active, inactive, and prospective members. We wanted to discuss one on one what our club could do better. How could we provide more enriching programs? What types of educational formats would help you in your career? How can we support our community better? With these conversations, we had a renewed focus on our membership experience within the club.
In July 2020, our switch to virtual luncheons allowed us to offer these educational programs for free to members of our industry. The numbers of attendees for the luncheons were growing, as was engagement. We had attendees reaching out for more information on resources regarding luncheon topics, and with that, we were able to expand our educational tactics to include follow-up emails and posts highlighting additional information for our members.
Listening to our community, we also offered new benefits to our members related to the American Advertising Awards. We provided several pricing options that assisted with submitting more work at lower out-of-pocket costs. This pricing included different options based on agency size – anywhere from a freelancer to a large agency. In the upcoming year, we’re kicking off a new email membership campaign for our members consisting of a set of scheduled triggered emails that will go out at different points of a member’s annual renewal cycle, with the intent of increasing renewals year over year. As we look to 2021-2022, we understand the importance of growing our club from its current 110 members not only through acquisition but also via retention.
AAF Mobile Bay
We had a very successful first in-person meeting in over a year in late April! It was great to see so many members & guests together!
In June, we will have a reception to honor our Past Presidents – more information to come soon. We will also have a Member Social on Thursday, June 24th at the Ice Box Bar. The social will be free for both members and potential new members. We are also planning to create a membership drive for June & July where new members and the sponsor will be entered to win a prize!
AAF Nashville has taken a larger focus this year on our student membership/relationships with local educational institutions. We greatly recognize that the lack of diversity in our professional market has a direct tie to where we first interact with future members, i.e., colleges and universities. With that in mind, we’re cultivating stronger relationships with the educators and students through our Get The Job Conference, which was held virtually this year. Over a course of three days, we held three discussion panels and resume/portfolio reviews to help students get the best jump-start they can on the backside of the pandemic. It’s always a great opportunity for our members to join forces for something truly beneficial.
In “normal” times, we use our programming as a tactic to identify possible new members who would benefit from a speaker’s topic of expertise and reach out with a personal invitation to attend.
This past year, we were grateful that D7 offered our club the stimulus. After surveying our members, we passed that along as a membership discount to help retain members whose employers were making departmental cuts in these areas.
Our club has also capitalized on the member discounts for American Advertising Awards entries by offering new members who are entering the competition a half-year membership. This is a win-win as we gain a new member who will likely renew the following year, but also helps our number of local entries.