We have 70,000 members. This association is premier in the industry. Since 1962 we have been advancing the profession. Our organization is the only non-profit serving…
What is important to your staff is not important to members. And what is important to your members may not be important to your staff. This friction is natural after all your staff are not your members. Generally the staff and members have different professions, career experiences and come from different industry backgrounds.
For staff it feels significant to work for the largest organization serving this industry. There’s a sense of well-being knowing that your association has been around for 50 years. Being the only non-profit association that serves our industry may make us feel good. We, the staff, feel like this stuff matters. To us it is important to be important. For most of our members however these facts don’t matter as much to them.
What matters to members is: do I like you? How can you help me? Will I regret the decision to join?
Do I like you?
We try to steer clear of people we don’t like. We don’t frequent establishments we don’t like. We certainly don’t join an organization we don’t like. So what is likeability for an association? Likability is feeling like I may eventually feel at home here. Prospective members ask themselves: is this the place for me? They will unconsciously rely a lot on their first impression of your organization. Likeability is somewhat nebulous but you can improve it.
You can improve likeability by being very clear who you serve. You want to attract more of the best members for your organization which means being okay with saying who you don’t serve. You can also improve likeability by paying special attention to those first interactions and first impressions. How is the user interface of your website for first-timers? What kind of experience would a prospective member have with your staff? How welcoming is your association?
How can you help me?
Like all of us, members feel they don’t have enough time. They may be under incredible pressure to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem. They are often overwhelmed with deadlines. They may be trying to revive a soft business. Maybe management has given them a yearly stretch goal and they are afraid that they can’t deliver. They have limited funds and time and are trying to use them wisely. When you are under this kind of pressure it is difficult to want to be altruistic.
Altruism is what many associations are asking for. Join because we advance the profession. Join so you can volunteer. Join because it is the right thing to do. If you are already stretched to the limit a message like this will fall on deaf ears.
Members want to know that you understand their biggest challenges and that you can help solve them. Do you have other successful members who have been through what they are going through now? Will joining help them advance in their career? Will they become more of an expert faster?
Will I regret this decision?
After potential members have decided if they like you and if you can help them, they wonder if they can trust you. Do you know enough about my problem to help me? Will this be a waste of time? Will joining be a mistake? Will I regret making this purchase?
This is where you need to prove that membership is the right decision. One way is by showing how you’ve solved problems for others. This may be through testimonials or in case studies. You can demonstrate what kind of experience they will have access to by educating prospective members for free with special reports, e-books or whitepapers. Don’t leave them wondering how joining can help them. Prove how it can help them.
Do you feel like maybe your association’s brand story is a vanity message? Move toward a message that will grab more of your best members by asking, “How do we become more likeable? How do we show them we solve their problems? How can we prove that membership is a decision they won’t regret?”
Many associations are marketing in a way that doesn’t resonate with members but a very few have figured out how to create marketing that matters. Find out about modern member marketing on http://www.smooththepath.net where Amanda Kaiser also discusses story telling for members, innovation and member insights. Follow her on Twitter at @SmoothThePath.