It’s a lot like what your parents told you as a kid: If you want people to find you courteous, you need to mind your manners. Pay close attention to what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.
Similarly, if you want members to find value in your association, you need to mind your members. Pay close attention to what you’re communicating to them and how you’re communicating it.
Here are some questions you can answer to get you well on your way to being an association etiquette expert.
What value did your association promise your members?
Providing your members with a good experience is all about giving them the value they believed they were subscribing to when they became a member of your association. Whenever people invest their time and money into something, they typically expect to get something in return.
That said, every organization is different, and a lot of members have different expectations around what they need from your association in order to feel engaged and satisfied. Some members might really value the educational offerings of your association because it helps them grow personally or professionally. Some want to network face-to-face with other people who share similar interests. Quite simply, “value” is a subjective term.
There are an endless number of touch points between an association and its members, and as a result there are seemingly infinite opportunities to offer your members something that might align with their position in the membership lifecycle. These offerings range from types of content you can provide, in-person meetings, virtual conferences, and so on.
How do you know what’s appropriate to offer? On to the next question associations should ask themselves…
How are you measuring the member lifecycle?
A lot of associations use a CRM system for member lifecycle management. If you have a substantial amount of members, this is definitely something worth investigating. Spreadsheet member management can only take you so far.
Associations want to know if they are providing member value and keeping members engaged. This requires more than just raw data about members.
As a result, some association professionals have concerns over the limitations of a CRM system for tracking members because a lot of systems provide quantitative versus qualitative data. Or, if the CRM is a commercial solution rather than one built for the association and event business, it might not meet your needs because it was built too generically to suit a variety of business types. It might require too much customization and inherently lack core features that help you capture truly meaningful data. Data that helps you genuinely understand how engaged a member is based on their interactions with your association.
Obviously, a CRM system that is built for your business will help you capture more than just large amounts of quantitative data. It will help you capture the right type of qualitative data. And, when the system is able to be personalized, you can tailor the fields in the system to suit your association’s vernacular and member lifecycle. Then, your association can really start providing member value.
What are you doing with the information you have about your members?
Enhancing the member experience does not mean saying more; it means listening better. If you’re tracking member information and interactions, and then acting on this information, you will increase the member engagement and satisfaction. Otherwise, it’s like taking the time to conduct a survey but trashing the responses.
In an article about tracking membership engagement, Tom Morrison makes this recommendation for building your membership engagement strategy: “Look at the different segments of engagement, send them more targeted messaging, design benefits that have actual value and are things you do better than your members can do themselves.” Pretty sound advice.
If your association has thousands of members, you’re going to feel like it’s impossible to know them all individually. And, you’re right. You really can’t know a thousand people individually. But, you can ask them what they are looking to get out of their membership with your organization, track this information, and ensure that your communication is tailored to the various member categories you have tracked. This will help provided targeted, valuable content to members who will then feel like you “get” them.