Is it safe for our association to mention our competition in event marketing?

Associations are, by definition, all about associating with other who share a common interest.  Given that situation, is it sacrilege or even harmful to mention your members’ competition as part of your event marketing?  The ultimate fear is that members may cease to cooperate for the good of the association because they see each other only as competitors.

The answer may depend on your association board and members’ sensibilities, but there are three reasons why mentioning your members’ competition is probably safe:

1) Your members aren’t dumb – they already realize that some of their fellow association members are competitors.  While your members may seemingly be all about sharing, it’s likely that they don’t publicly announce their best secrets and strategies because they realize that they have at least a few competitors in the association.

2) Most of the other members may not be competitors.  For example, if your members tend to operate in limited geographies or highly specialized areas, most of their fellow members may never be competitors.

3) Your members may view non-members as more relevant competitors.  For example, if your association requires a commitment to a higher standard of excellence in their profession, your members may view that as a price of entry to being in the upper echelon of their industry.  As a result, while the playing field “inside the club” is level, they see their association membership as a way to create a clear advantage versus their real competitors – those outside the “club.”

Certainly, using a competitive angle in your association’s event marketing requires good judgment and a soft touch, but it can be done safely in many circumstances.

Does your association mention your members’ competition in your advertising?  Has it ever backfired?


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