So often in associations, there is a gap between the association’s value offering and what members’ believe this value to be.
The best way to bridge this gap is with a clearly thought out communication strategy that includes regular highlights and case studies of the benefits offered to members. And by benefits, I don’t just mean the tangible benefits such as discounted insurance programs and cheaper car hire, but benefits that highlight the main reasons members join – access to professional education, career development opportunities, and feeling part of a tribe.
Your members want to be educated, involved and feel like they are part of a community. Your member benefits need to reflect this, AND you need to tell your members what you’re doing so they can make the decision to participate.
Research from the 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report reveals that many traditional offerings, such as insurance programs and book or directory purchases, are declining as reasons for members to renew. However, activities such as participating in the public and private social networks of the association, attending webinars, acquiring or maintaining certification to increase professional credentials, and participating in young professionals programs are where the value is identified. Consequently, these activities are driving an increase in member engagement.
The lack of relevant and consistent communication regarding member benefits is a big problem for many associations. I’ll never forget signing up to the Qantas Club, paying the few hundred dollars joining fee, only to find out days later that the joining fee was waived for members of an association I had belonged to for years. Yet I never knew because they didn’t tell me. Or anyone else apparently. When I called to ask them how long it had been a member benefit, and why they hadn’t told people, their response was that they expected members would go to the relevant section of the website to find out. Needless to say, I’m no longer a member of that particular association.
7 ways to communicate your member benefits to members
- Send them a new member onboarding package that includes everything you want members to know about your association, and the value you provide
- Phone your new members within a week of signing up – ask why they joined and tell them what you offer that will help them solve their problems
- As much as I want associations to rely less on email, send a short email sequence to new members (and a different one to renewing members) to let them know how they can get the most out of membership
- Write them a letter and enclose something that will encourage them to open it – whenever I get mail that looks interesting I open it immediately. Boring looking mail (especially mail in a window envelope *shudders* ) is either shoved in a pile to be opened whenever, or given to my assistant to open.
- Pop a “Did you know a member benefit is…” in your email footer and change the benefit regularly – people always read the PS in an email!
- Make it visual so it’s compelling to look at – create interesting content that uses video, infographics, pictures and colour and share it via your social media channels. This will have the dual purpose of telling members what you do as well as informing non-members, who may then be encouraged to join
- Share a member benefit case study at all your events – ideally with the relevant member speaking about what they gained
How do you communicate member benefits in your association?
If you’re struggling with effective member communication, contact Mel to find out how she could help – or sign up to one of her workshops in July 2018, How to Become a Social Association.