In 2013, more than 100 billion business emails were sent and received every day. By 2017, the number is expected to reach 132 billion per day. If you’re like me, some days you feel you’re getting all 100 billion. I suspect your members feel the same.
There’s a lot of clutter to get through for an association trying to reach its members. One way is to develop consistent messaging that answers the question “So what?” for the reader.
Sounds simple, but more than half of the association executives we surveyed say issues related to messaging are their biggest obstacle when it comes to connecting with members. They think they know what to say, but the message just doesn’t get through.
To help you focus your message, answer to these four questions before you sit down to write:
- What is the Goal of the communication?
- Who is your Audience?
- What’s in it for your Member?
- What do you want them to do (after they read your information)?
All are important, but when it comes to cutting through the clutter, the most important question is: What’s in it for your member (WIIFM)?
Write for one key audience: If you try to write messages to relate to ALL your member groups, the result will likely be generic and, well, boring. Pick one or two important member groups and think about what’s meaningful to them. Write for that one member and your message will be stronger. If you effectively connect with one key member group, you’ll be reaching the others too. I promise.
Write knowing how you deliver best on what they need: This begs an article on member research, but let’s assume you understand your members’ needs and you deliver on those needs. Now it’s a matter of writing your messages to reflect this.
A simple way to test if you’re successful is to ask yourself “So what?” for each key message your write. If the answer to “So what?” doesn’t speak to a basic business need (gain more clients, make more money, lower risk, etc.) go back and take a second look.
A few other tips:
- Avoid language that is association-centric (all about you). Speak in terms your member understands. (This is more difficult than you think: consider jargon, acronyms and terminology that you are used on your side of the office door.)
- Focus on benefits (WIIFM), not on features. A new course on ethics is a feature. Avoiding being fined for an ethics violation is benefit.
- Be consistent. Use the same writing style/tone so your messages all sound like they’re coming from you. Include your brand so there’s a visual consistency to your messages.
- Check your readability. Use Microsoft tools or online tools such as Readability-Score.com.
By writing consistent messages following these new rules, you’re communicating more than just information. You’re communicating the value you deliver to members. And that’s a message worth reading.