Know Your Members, Retain Your Members
Members are key to the success of any association. Without their support, associations simply can’t accomplish their goals. Though attracting new members is certainly important, engaging and retaining existing members is just as crucial, if not more so. In my years leading TMG’s member services team, I’ve found that a personal touch truly goes a long way in engaging members. Here are a few of the things I do to get to know association members, and ultimately, to delight and retain them.
Have an On-Boarding Plan
Always have specific strategies and a documented plan for introducing new members to all your association has to offer. After all, these first communications can create either happy, lifelong members or unengaged members who chose not to renew. As association managers, we need to decipher what our members want to extract from their membership, help them stay engaged, and provide those services now and in the future, as their needs may change periodically throughout their membership.
Pick Up the Phone
Very early on, I like to reach out to each new member with a personal phone call. I always use first names—this personal touch is very important. Being able to let them know what to expect in the next few weeks, and answering any initial questions is important to everyone involved, and it begins the relationship-building process early on.
However, after initial “on boarding” and “welcome aboard” contacts, try not to over-communicate. It can be a difficult to determine what is enough, what is not enough, and what is too much. Get to know your member and then figure out a contact schedule that will fit their needs. When it comes to communicating with members, quality is more important than quantity.
Do Loyalty Assessments
Every six to nine months, survey your members to understand if they recognize the value of their membership. Find out what they members want, what they appreciate about the association, and if there’s anything they are missing out on or would like to know more about. Their responses will provide meaningful insight for both the member and the association.
Educate, Educate, Educate
Your association has robust programming and events, but your members can’t take advantage of all you have to offer if they don’t know about it! Educate them about your offerings, from webinars to online seminars on varied topics, discounts with partners, training, publications, interactions with the association, conferences, the association’s website, etc.
It is particularly important to emphasize networking and to encourage members to participate and attend programs and events throughout the year. This way, they can see that they have a future in your association—and that their industry is better off because of that.
Many associations have members all over the map, making face-to-face contact between members and association staff difficult at times. Yet when it’s feasible, make it a priority to visit members when you are in their area and ask them what you’re doing well and what you can do better.
I’m always thinking about what’s important to members and how I can help them get more value out of their association. I strongly believe that members should always extract more from their association than what they invest, and I’m here to make sure they do just that—all with a personal touch.