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Leveraging organizations and associations to boost sales.

RELATIONSHIPS DRIVE BUSINESS in the multifamily industry, and there is no better place to start building relationships than in your own backyard.

During the AIM 2.0 Internet Marketing for Suppliers Conference held in December, panelists Susan Weston, The Susan Weston Company, James Tunnel, Arizona Multihousing Association, Alan Pentico, CAE, San Diego County Apartment Association and Jason Morvay, HI) Supply, provided attendees with invaluable insights into working with these organizations.

According to the panel, associations seek partners to provide their time, talent and sponsorship. In exchange, suppliers gain access to members, creating unique opportunities to network and market by playing a larger role in the industry. From reverse trade shows, golf outings, event/education sponsorship, award dinners and even providing unbiased, educational editorial content for the member newsletter or magazine, associations provide a plethora of ways for suppliers to get engaged.

While it takes a concerted effort to get involved, suppliers inevitably extract significant value from the relationship.

"Suppliers are bringing something to the table the association may not have thought of," Weston said. "And, in doing so, they become a trusted member rather than just a face in the crowd."

Leading up to the conference, Weston surveyed nine industry suppliers, from behemoth cable companies to smaller affiliates including local carpet-cleaning companies, to gain a better understanding of why they are involved and what value they take away from the relationship at the local level.

Morvay noted, "We started getting involved at the local level by becoming a resource and as a result we started to get in front of people. The networking potential became very clear."

So what else did. these suppliers have to say about the value of the relationship? Here are a few key points to consider:

Why should you get involved?

* It's the best way to get face-to-face with buyers in the market.

* To engage the national level for visibility and the local associations for direct impact.

* At first, the objective was to get more sales; now it's about being more involved in the industry

What association services deliver greatest value?

* Committee service, especially membership.

* Membership directory listing.

* Sponsorship of events and meetings--encourage supplier to choose an event that is closely associated with the offered product or service.

* Sponsorship of educational programs--especially designations.

Supplier Survey Results: Success Tips

* Always pay attention to the on site people--they the future association leaders.

* Never talk business at an affiliate event; avoid the direct sale.

* Keep your messaging consistent in all marketing materials and communications to make yourself easy to find.

* Use the affiliate to build vendor-to-vendor relationships: cross-functional referrals work well.

Download the panel presentation at www.aparimentsuppliercontcom/sessions
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Title Annotation:Business Relationships
Date:May 1, 2012
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