Last post I talked about the first 5 key elements to getting your members to scream your name and
beg for more while maximizing their engagement. To recap, those first 5 were:
Members have a true understanding why they joined
Volunteers and staff are passionate about the cause of the association
Membership/Leadership represents the diversity of the industry
Association has an effective flow to membership
Doing things for your members they can't do for themselves effective
Now lets move into the last 5 key elements every association needs to have in order to maximize member value and engagement.
Understanding Your Engagement Points & Measuring Them
I'm a big believer that engagement solves everything. If you maximize engagement you solve volunteerism, meeting attendance, finances and non-dues revenue issues. Why? Because your members are connected in an emotional way that is driving your key programs and strategic issues. When members are engaged, they buy into the vision and mission of the association. With lack of engagement being the #1 reason members cancel membership, it is important you make identifying and measuring your engagement points a #1 priority. I suggest you break your member programs into three categories:
- Information Only - measurable elements members get for free
- Transactional - elements members pay money for
- Emotional - members who come to meetings or volunteer in some capacity
Once you have your programs divided into these 3 categories, then figure out the percentage of membership that fit into each category. Your goal is to move informational members over time into transactional and hopefully long term turn the into emotional members with them attending meetings and volunteering. By measuring your engagement by program and in these 3 categories, you can begin to see who is highly engaged, somewhat engaged and not engaged. This allows you to send specific messaging to these various categories that will encourage them to get more involved in the association. The key to engagement is playing into a member's FOMO or "Fear of Missing Out." If they don't feel they are MISSING OUT on anything, they tend to not get engaged. Measure who is engaged, Thank them and create FOMO for everyone else.
Culture of Constant Innovation & Change
Our new Uberization economy is changing now faster than ever. Changes in consumer buying habits, emerging technologies and demographic shifts are all working together to create change like we have never seen it before. If your association is to stay ahead of the future, it is critical that you "live in the future and act today." Your Forward Thinking Committee needs to not be a once a year strategic planning task force but needs to be an active team looking at change in constant motion. Every quarter, a team needs to be looking at where the "friction, anxiety and stress" is in the industry business model and looking at solutions to keep the association and the members ahead of the dynamic changes coming your way.
Tapping Into the Right Data
Data is the number one key to the future. Data is helping many industries and associations tap
into predictive solutions that help them make real time decisions on markets to pursue, production issues and maintenance. With the right data, you can predict the future with a high levels of accuracy which allows you to maximize your success at minimal costs. The associations who study the data behind the makeup of demographics and consumer buying habits are going to give their association and members a competitive advantage to being in front of all the incredible opportunities coming our way as an economy. Both of these will have the biggest impact on an industry growing or declining in the future.
Effective Communication Strategy
The #1 connection to your member's engaging in your association is your communication strategy. Every time you send a communication whether a email, print or social media, you are communicating your value. It is important you have a strategy that sends your message of value every time your members see it. I believe it is important in today's world of varying demographics that associations must do it all in communications: print, video, enewsletters and social media. So many want to only do electronic for cost savings. Wrong thinking. 65% of most members don't open your electronic communications, so why do away with print when that is still the #1 form of media they read from you. The goal should be to get 100% of your members to see your value in a form they like. That is why we do a monthly newsletter, weekly enewsetter, youtube videos and social media. It has helped us have an 81% engagement rate of our members in at least one program and 97% retention rate that has led to over 1,500% growth in our net worth since 2006. Your communication strategy is the key. Choose wisely.
Narrow Your Focus on Value Proposition
Simply put, people are overwhelmed with too many choices. The days of "we have 100 reasons for you to join" are over. It is crucial for your association to discover and clearly define a value proposition that entails 3 to 6 elements you do better than any one on your member's behalf. A huge phrase you need to keep in mind is, "Members support your mission. They BUY your value." You need to narrow your focus on your value to the 3 to 6 programs that your members can't get anywhere else as effectively as the association. They must be clear, concise and measurable. Narrowing your focus will make your value crystal clear and easier for people to get engaged on the front end of membership.
I would encourage you to put these 10 elements I've discussed in my last two blogs in a survey and ask your staff and leadership to rate on a scale of 1- 10 how they feel you are performing. When you look at the results, you will know exactly where your weak links are and why your association isn't performing as well as you would like it to.
Associations are the most powerful source for any member. Anyone who doesn't believe that doesn't understand associations. There is strong. Then there is association strong.