Labor Day (the official end to summer) has come and gone and before you know it the leaves will begin to fall from the trees. This is also the time of year many associations see their communications plan falling off the proven track and veering outside the lines.
You know the reasons; most are an annual occurrence, including:
1. Dues renewal cycle is approaching and you have lots you want to say to members.
2. Important decisions and projects coming to fruition lead to more frequent (and more detailed) communications.
3. Fall convention is not drawing the registrations you expect.
4. It’s been almost nine months since you agreed to your communications rules.
5. You don’t have a clear, compelling message of value.
I hear from many association executives who feel their communications are average (or a bit above average) in both content and frequency. They want to do better, but are not sure how.
Re-visit, re-prioritize and re-commit
With the all-important focus on dues renewal, now is a perfect time to re-visit, re-prioritize and re-commit to a strong member communications plan.
- Connect the dots between the association’s offerings and the direct link to your members’ business success. Focus your communications around these services.
- Select and plan your content wisely. Adhere to the rule of one email a week to members.
- Trim the content to say the most relevant news in a simple message. Focus on “why it matters” to your member.
- Be very clear on your message of value. Make sure you know what means the most to members, and that you’re delivering it with excellence.
Don’t live with status-quo
Call a ten minute meeting to discuss communications. Agree on your communications priorities and monitor them.
Email is efficient, but only reaches 15 to 30 percent of your members—on its best day
To reach the rest of them, plan, organize and implement your communications by thinking through them in advance. In nearly all cases, the adage “less is more” applies. Keep communications as simple and direct as possible. Consider these channels to reach as many of your customers as possible. Remember, your members are your customers, make sure they can answer the “so what” about belonging to your organization.
- Collaborate with a state or local association on a member value brochure. The goal? To highlight what you do (with excellence) that’s relevant and unique. Hand it out to new members, current members and prospective members. (If you cannot create this message, call for help now. Before you take any of the next steps.)
- Send a hard copy postcard (no envelope necessary) with a simple message directly to every member.
- Ask your business owners (brokers) be your messenger and to pass on key messages to agents. Give them an easy, simple means to do so.
- Send an email newsletter that contains one item of information and see what happens to your open rates. Address THE most relevant information for that one week.
- Incorporate a series of prominent graphics in your website’s homepage to illustrate key accomplishments. Show how the association helps the member…using their language.
- Use social media to deliver/reinforce the same simple message that you send in other ways.
- Hand out a small card or one-pager at your front desk, events, conventions, classes, new member orientation…wherever you members are. Include your key message of value and how to reach you to get answers and information.
- Did I say keep it simple?
If you have questions, or want help to determine how to get on (and stay on) track, please feel free to call and discuss!