Associations Build Trade Connection Via Their Web Sites

Article excerpt

Associations are expanding their Web sites to include new services - including connecting members with potential clients in a sort of ongoing trade show.

And companies are springing up to help associations develop their sites. E-Society, a Seattle company that creates "net markets," or on-line electronic commerce communities, held a seminar last Wednesday in the District to discuss the concept. Associations only get to see members in person at trade shows, said Brad Stevens, vice president of marketing for E-Society.

"Really only one or two times during the year do they get to interact in a community-oriented way with their membership, and what they're looking to do is utilize the Web . . . to foster that type of community year round," he said.

Commercial Internet market firms can create Web communities where buyers and sellers connect, but Mr. Stevens said associations have an advantage because they have already built a community.

"We happen to think associations possess significant assets that commercial Net market companies are spending millions of dollars to acquire," he said.

Trade groups have brand awareness, an already-aggregated community, neutrality and a good understanding of industries, he said.

John Fuhr, eastern sales director for the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau, attended E-Society's seminar and said associations have many companies to choose from when entering the electronic commerce field.

"Trade associations are looking at the business-to-business model and where they fit into the big picture," he said.

One of the groups that has already taken the plunge is the Rosemont, Ill.-based Housewares Manufacturers Association, whose members make everything from trash cans to mops to furniture.

The association is an E-Society client, and its full electronic commerce site will be up and running March 8.

"Our role has been traditionally to provide our members with a trade show annually" and other services, said Perry Reynolds, the group's director of marketing and trade development. …