A new online community where association members connect with prospective clients recently was launched by Association Management Partners & Executive Directors (AMPED) on behalf of its client, the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA).
CSIA, a global trade association for companies that design and implement sophisticated control systems for manufacturing and industrial facilities, created a website two years ago that features content for members and prospective members, plus information directed to members’ prospective clients. The website included a link to an online buyers guide.
While the CSIA website enjoys high search engine rankings, members wanted to take their joint marketing effort to a higher level.
“Our members told us they wanted more dynamic ways to tell their stories and make connections with industry partners and prospective clients,” said Lynda J. Patterson, FASAE, CAE, owner and president of AMPED and president of CSIA. “The Industrial Automation Exchange offers many more features than an online buyers guide, including the ability to display areas of expertise, supplier affiliations and key contact people.”
AMPED conducted an extensive search for a developer to build and host a site that would meet all of the requirements specified by a member task force. A perfect match was found with Diamax, a Washington, D.C.-based software engineering studio and interactive agency that combines creative and technical expertise to produce multichannel communications products and digital solutions for associations and other clients.
“Our technology allows us to create specialized digital communities that connect people who need solutions to people who can provide them through content that answers their questions. When a customer finds the right person, they also find the right company, in this case a control system integrator,” said Derek Rector, president of Diamax. “Ultimately, all B2B commerce is really P2P, or people to people.”
Four levels of profiles
The Exchange displays four levels of profiles – basic, bronze, silver and gold. Nonmembers’ names and addresses will be included in the basic listing. Nonmembers will be able to purchase one of the higher level profiles, however, pricing is structured to motivate nonmembers to join CSIA.
“The Exchange might be a system integrator’s introduction to CSIA, but we will encourage them to join and enjoy all of the association’s benefits, which include best practices for managing a system integration business, a certification program, an annual conference and a members-only social media site,” said Patterson.
The site is integrated with CSIA’s association management software, Avectra netForum, so members’ profiles are prepopulated with demographic information. Members can log in, expand their company profile, add on optional features, preview and check out, using PayPal. Advertising, in the form of tower ads, featured companies and category ads in search results, may be purchased by contacting CSIA.
All current members will receive a bronze-level profile free for the first year. “Having a robust site with many companies featured is critical to the site’s success. We want visitors to bookmark the Exchange and come back frequently,” said Patterson.
Information storehouse serves dual purposes
The Find an Answer section of the site allows Exchange members to present videos, slides, whitepapers and case studies. Plus, visitors and members can ask and answer questions in an online forum.
“Even if a company doesn’t have a lot of whitepapers or case studies, they still have an opportunity to show their expertise by answering questions,” said Eric Huemmer, who joined the AMPED staff in January as exchange community manager.
Furthermore, a large repository of frequently updated information will improve search engine optimization and boost rankings in search results. Amassing a lot of information about control system integration in one location creates a “large footprint” that can actually be found on the web, according to Rector.
“By aggregating our resources as an association, we are going to garner more attention than any one of us can alone,” said PC Romano, president of Avid Solutions and chairman of the CSIA board of directors. “The Exchange has the potential to change the way we market ourselves by creating a dynamic hub where integrators, suppliers and end users meet.”
View the Industrial Automation Exchange or contact AMPED for more information.