As someone who has worked in associations for the lion’s share of my career (with the other time actually spent working for member companies), I tend to get excited about all things membership. And one thing I have noticed about the best membership organizations? The members get excited about it too.
In the best organizations, you don’t need to dig too deep to uncover great stories from members about how joining the association in question has changed their career or business, engendered new friendships or provided new insights. The members who tell these stories credit membership as critical to their success.
But too often, if you look at the websites or marketing collateral of member-based organizations, you won’t find these gems. The passion for the industry or profession is sadly absent, buried under updates about advocacy or events or industry news. And that’s really unfortunate. That advocacy work and those events are important – but they all come second to the member experience. After all, if it’s not a positive one, sooner or later you won’t have any members left (or become a poor shadow of your former self, as some large groups have found). The raw and infectious enthusiasm of members is after all, what it’s all about in creating a sustainable organization today.
So if your member marketing messaging is more ‘ho-hum …’ than ‘wahoo!’ then it is clearly time to get busy spicing up your website and collateral with stories, testimonials and case studies that show your value proposition in action. Here’s how.
#1 – Collect some good stories.
If you have some already, commit them to writing. Keep collecting them. How? Ask members to share what the association means to them, how it has improved their lives, their businesses, their careers. And be sure to ask in such a way that you get a response that will resonate with other members and prospects. Here are a few questions you might consider:
- How has the association specifically contributed to your professional development, to building your business, to your success?
- Can you share an anecdote that would help us share your excitement for XYZ organization?
#2 – Personalize the response.
Call each person who submits a reply both to thank them for taking the time and to dig a bit deeper. How can you use this member’s experience to create a similar positive outcome for other members? How does what this member tells you connect and compare to the benefits you communicate in your marketing? Are there changes you need to make?
# 3 – Keep asking.
Once you have several stories collected (5-6 would be ideal to start), keep the ball rolling by asking for more. There is nothing like seeing a good story to get people thinking about their own.
# 3 – Shout your stories from the rooftops!
Communicate across varied media. Include the content on your website, use excerpts in your member marketing collateral and consider capturing these on video and audio, perhaps at your next annual convention. Include parts of it in your newsletter throughout the year as well as on social media.
Member stories and testimonials can be powerful tools to help you get the word out about your association and its value. Be sure they communicate and capture the positive emotions and deep commitment your most engaged members feel about your organization.
What ideas do you have to share about capturing member excitement? Please share them. Thank you.
© 2015 Anne Doherty Johnson
About the Author: Anne Doherty Johnson is marketing strategist with expertise in growing engagement and revenues for member based organizations. She has also counseled corporations and individuals on how to maximize memberships in pursuit of their goals. Contact her at http://www.annedohertyjohnson.com.
This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included.