Take a minute, step back and ponder how members feel when they receive your communications. Do they connect and read on, or do they disregard? Here are 9 ways associations approach their communications as a strategic asset (and they get results). Which 2 or 3 things do you think your staff should consider for more successful communications?
1. Link to your organization’s goal
- When you think about your communications you know what the member wants to consume and you also understand your association’s strategy.
2. Bring staff, leadership, your boss, and boss’ boss along to understand the background and direction that makes up the plan
- There are agreed-to values in approaching the plan.
- All stakeholders adhere to the rules and roles for communications.
3. Be consistent and intentional
- Works from a documented plan. Commits to the plan. Works at it.
- Is not an implementer of someone else’s priorities. Staff and leadership bring requirements to the Communications team. The team (or communications director) figures out how to incorporate them into the process.
4. Be accountable for the association’s storyline (the association is clear about the member value proposition and brand)
- The value proposition is your beacon that helps sell a unified message to your target audiences.
- The value proposition becomes part of your brand promise.
- Members verify that what you say is valuable really actually is. Ongoing data (using research results and dashboard).
5. Know the target audiences by fact and plans how to best serve them
- Communications focus on key member segments — not “everyone.”
- Target audience selection is a strategic decision and you invest in getting to know them.
6. Make decisions based on data
- Uses information regularly — click data, subject line analysis.
- Keeps up with changing member behaviors beyond who opens an eNewsletter.
- Formally researches customers annually to track Y-T-Y changes from a statistical sampling.
- Is intentional (only track what you will use) and consistent (using the same schedule and format).
7. Plan ahead
- Plans for significant bumps in the road (like a dues increase) or significant events that need attention and prior planning.
- Re-evaluates and re-documents the plan every year with change in goals, messages, audience, or outside factors.
- Shares the new plan with new stakeholders and all stakeholders at least annually.
8. Use rules
- Communicators live by the commitments you make to your members.
- Your association’s brand and style builds credibility and legitimacy.
- Every communication is your chance to reinforce your brand.
9. Balance art and science
- Understands that rules, approaches and content must adjust as you go.
- Uses data, new organizational goals, and survey findings to make adjustments.
What does your gut say? Do you connect with your members as well as you could? Let us know if you’d like to collaborate on one or two steps to move your members towards better connections.