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Finding the Secret to Member Happiness

Lori Halley 14 July 2014 0 comments

This is a guest post by Lamees Abourahma of Webbright Services.

A smart salesman once said, “there are two steps to selling: (1) know what [customers] want, and (2) give it to them.” For a membership group, the secret to providing member-value (and making them happy) is to know what your members want and give it to them. But how do you go about finding out what members want? We recently spoke with Fredrique Irwin, a Webbright client, about different membership-related topics including this question.

Irwin is the founder of Her Corner, a for-profit membership organization in Washington D.C. that brings women business owners together to build relationships, support each other’s companies and to grow their own businesses. Although Her Corner was started in 2011, the organization has already made great strides in developing member services that provide the information and value members seek. Irwin shares her insights on how she, and Her Corner, were able to make that happen.

Ask Members What They Want

Irwin and her team conduct an annual survey with their members asking about the topics that they find most relevant to their businesses. The responses not only tell the organization what members are interested in, but they are also used to determine the themes and speakers for upcoming events.

"For example, if sales and pipeline management comes up, we know that those types of questions would make great presentations because these topics are highly relevant to our members," Irwin said.

To get people to participate in this year's survey, Irwin and her team created a raffle. Those who participated received a ticket to win the raffle prize, which was a gift basket containing various products and services from other Her Corner members. Some of the gifts in the basket included a book on the bestseller list that was written by one of Her Corner's members and a presentation service focused on helping clients deliver great presentations.

"In doing [this], we started asking more questions other than just what topics are relevant," Irwin said. "We thought it was really important to get a really good understanding of who our members are."

Think Strategically About Membership

One of Irwin's biggest challenges in building Her Corner was sticking to the vision of who the group is for, and who the group isn't for. Her Corner has very specific membership requirements, which Irwin says has helped to build the membership base since it means those women who fit the criteria (who the group is for) are very interested in joining.

"The challenge is that we have a lot of people who feel like we are alienating them," Irwin said. "We [have requirements] because we want to create a membership organization that is really, genuinely for our core membership."

Irwin notes that people contact Her Corner regularly about creating a separate membership base for those who aren't core members, so it's continually a challenge to say no to some folks who want to become members.

Create a Member Portal

To better serve members, Irwin and her team created a member portal on the Her Corner website. Prior to the portal, members had to go to various social media sites to get information and to connect with other members. They also applied for membership on one page, but paid for that membership on another page. Irwin wanted to consolidate the structure so that members could get everything they need in one place, including discounts and perks.

"What we wanted to do was create one area that they go to," Irwin said. "If they land on our website, they would then apply, pay, become a member and get access to our member portal in one place."

Give Them Something To Talk About

Within the membership portal, there are two pages that allow members to share promotions, events and information with each other: Member Promotions and Member Events. All members can view both pages and the postings, but only certain membership levels are allowed to post. Irwin said that Her Corner's members are very interested in what others are doing and want to support one another.

"One of the things that we hear repeatedly from our members is... 'if you're sensitive to your marketing budget, how do you market your business?'" Irwin said. "When we thought about our portal, it was important that we created not one, but several different vehicles for them to share things that they are working on with their membership base."

The idea behind these pages is that members who have an upcoming event or webinar, for example, can share this information with everyone else. These pages also include a search tool, so that members can find other members that provide specific services, such as marketing or financial services.

"We knew that this was important to our members, which is why we built it into our portal," Irwin said.

Lamees Abourahma  is president of Webbright Services LLC. Webbright is a quality, high performance provider specializing in membership website design and development on the Wild Apricot platform. For Webbright, working with clients is more than building websites, blogs, or social networks. It’s about building relationships with people who are passionate about their mission, and helping them realize their vision. 

Image source:  Community Support Concept - courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com

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

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Monday, 14 July 2014 at 8:30 AM
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