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Do You Know How To Be A Member?

Lori Halley 14 November 2013 0 comments

This is a guest post by Elizabeth Weaver Engel, CAE, CEO and Chief Strategist at Spark Consulting LLC.

YAY! You just got a new member! Hopefully, she’ll acclimate and find her place and stay with you forever.

Wait: “hopefully”? We can do better than that.

Here’s the question you need to ask yourself: does your new member know how to be a member of your organization?

Of course not, right? She’s new. She knows enough about you to have been willing to invest her money in joining. Now you need to help her learn how to make the most of that investment. You have to welcome her, make her feel at home, and show her how to be a member.

  1. Make it personal. Someone who’s not on staff (i.e. another member, aka one of her peers) needs to call her or drop her an email welcoming her and sharing some insight from a member perspective on what membership means and offers. (This, by the way, presents a GREAT opportunity to engage ad hoc/micro-volunteers.)
  2. Get her started right. What’s the first most important thing she needs to know right away? That should be the SOLE focus of the first communication from staff (well, other than the confirmation of her membership, of course). Related to that…
  3. Don’t drop everything on her all at once. What does your “welcome to Association XYZ” communication look like? Is it a long list of “member benefits” (too often presented as features and from the association’s perspective) that she’s supposed to plow through? Try introducing one thing at a time with concrete examples of how other members use it, explaining why they like it in their words (testimonials, examples, case studies).
  4. Benefits not features. “Association XYZ produces the leading annual conference in our field…”? No. “Earn free continuing education credits when you come to our annual conference. We’re excited to feature speakers and topics like:…” Yes!
  5. Don’t ask her for more money – at least not right away. She just joined – the first thing she hears from you shouldn’t be “now spend MORE with us on our book/webinar/conference/whatever.” She’s still figuring out if her initial investment is going to be worthwhile. Don’t try to get her to sink more money in before she’s even sussed that out. It’s just rude.
  6. Stay in touch. You’re trying to develop a relationship here, one that you want to last over the long term. You don’t do that by ignoring the other party for a year (or, worse, bombarding her with marketing messages), and then asking her for more money. You need to stay in touch on a personal and non-financial basis throughout the year. Ask her how things are going. Check in to see if she has questions. Remind her of what’s included in her membership. Get volunteers to reach out. You know, actually develop an actual relationship as if you’re an actual person and so is she. Then, when that renewal invoice does arrive, her decision will be an easy one, and you’ll have a successful renewal.

About Elizabeth Weaver Engel, CAE

Elizabeth Weaver Engel, MA, CAE has been a member of the association community for over 16 years. She is currently CEO & Chief Strategist at Spark Consulting LLC: Explosive Growth for Associations, www.getmespark.com.

This post was originally published on October 29, 2013 on the Spark Consulting Blog and re-printed with permission.

Image source:  Welcome-hospitality-concept, courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Thursday, 14 November 2013 at 8:30 AM
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