The message, from both members and staff, is loud and clear. Your members don’t know what you do. They don’t know the scope of the benefits they are entitled too. They don’t know where to start. They don’t know they should turn to their association first.
I hear association marketers, membership directors and executive directors say that they are frustrated because even their most engaged members don’t know all the association does. New members know far less, an infinitesimal amount, and if they don’t see benefits to them, quickly they are lost. In member interviews members, also, say they have a feeling they are missing out on major benefits and they just don’t know the whole scope of what their association offers.
Why don’t members know what is available to them? Why don’t they turn to the association first?
They have tuned you out
With one-size fits all promotional messaging, most association-to-member-communication misses the mark. A long-time member is different from a new member. Members have different career goals, different problems and have different professional demands. When message after message doesn’t apply they will eventually mentally downgrade your promotional emails to the ‘delete immediately’ category. Soon they have tuned you out entirely.
It is too much effort to get to know you
Got 30, or 20, or even 10 benefits? Articles, research reports and guides? That’s an awful lot for a busy professional to sift through in the hopes that something will be helpful to them down the road. It’s is hard to take the time to navigate new and complex terrain when there are so many immediate demands to take care of right now.
They can’t link their problem with your solution
Members want solutions to their specific problems. But, how do they know that the solution to their problem is your salary survey, or your articles or your conference? They don’t. Their problem is not whether to attend your conference or not. Their problems are things like – how do I learn how to do this? How do I master this? How do I get opinions on the best solution? How do I progress in my career?
Help members understand how your association helps them
How do you get members to tune back in? Customize your offerings and promotions to their specific need. What are your members’ problems? Are they new-to-the-profession? Are they in a new position? Are they a new manager? Are they ready to give back to the profession?
How do you deal with members who think it is too much effort to get to know you? Quickly match up their most pressing problem with a solution to get them immediately enjoying the benefits of the association. There are many ways to do this. One is a high tech approach to conduct a member segmentation analysis and subsequent categories within your CMS to deliver each member exactly what they need. Or, a high touch approach and conduct a welcome orientation with each new member where the goal is to understand their immediate needs and get them the resources that will help them now.
How do you link their problem with your solution? We want to sell membership so we put our benefits first. We’ve got to stop selling benefits and start selling members’ problems. Connect with them first. Show them you know what their problems are and then show them how you can solve their problems.
Help your members really know your association. They will become more engaged and far more likely to tell their friends!
Your members don’t know your association. This is a huge untapped opportunity for you. Base your association marketing on empathy and you will get more attention and improve member engagement. Amanda writes, speaks and cartoons about these subjects and more including marketing that matters, innovation and storytelling on her SmoothThePath blog.