There’s an old adage that if you build it, they will come. Anyone who has tried to build a local support group or who is currently growing their group can tell you that isn’t always the case. Not only does starting a support group require a tremendous amount of work, maintaining the group and continuing to gain members can be a forever job.
According to our friends at The American Stroke Association, the best way to lessen your workload in order to promote your group is to get others involved from the very start. Not only will sharing responsibilities early on help to make organized efforts easier, it also instills an organic sense of ownership into your group. Establishing a strong team mentality from the very beginning will often result in more dedicated members, widespread publicity and committed leaders.
Whether you’re a new group with only a few attendees or, your support group has been around for years and it needs to be rejuvenated- basic marketing and promotion done in the right way can make a world of difference. As mentioned above, the success of your group largely depends on the people serving as your foundation.
What Should My Marketing Look Like?
The term marketing is a broad term used to encompass the process of your group moving from a concept to members participating. This includes identifying what your group is going to offer, establishing how you will reach current and prospective group members and finally developing and implementing a promotional strategy.
To get started, ask questions like- Do we have a way to communicate with people who may be interested in joining our group? Are we advertising our group? Are we making our events public? Each month you should identify new gaps and work together to fill them.
You must always be in close contact with your current group members to keep them informed and be accessible to potential new members. After all, starting the group is all about community, right? Some ideas include:
- Updating your website monthly
- If you do not currently have a website, consider making a Facebook page!
- E- Newsletters
- This is the easiest and often times most cost effective way to reach a large group.
- This can take the form of flyers, brochures, business cards, etc. The idea is to have a tangible, easy to carry piece of information you can easily hand out and leave behind for those who may need more information.
In addition to clear and up to date communication, you want to use your marketing to educate and provide real value. This can take the form of original blog posts, curating timely articles and sharing them on social media, email blasts that share new studies and helpful information- The possibilities are endless!
Social media has become increasing popular over the years and is a great way for groups with a limited or no budget to have a presence online and connect with their community. Since many social media groups are organized by location and special interest, this is a great way to connect with members, subject experts, and potential members that can relate to your cause and are in your area. Consider creating a profile on 2 of the big 3 platforms: Facebook and Twitter.
Building and establishing a local support group is a massive undertaking. Although this task comes with a large investment of time and energy, know that the effort can yield amazing results. To get the most out of your group and give back to your members, remember to educate, inform, and stay social to let your stroke community know that you are here and you will continue to be a valuable resource for them.