Members and Associations: Who Supports Who?

Guest Author: Amanda Lea Kaiser


How do we reassure new members that we are here to support them, not the other way around?

Someone asked this great question during Member Engagement Labs.

For some potential members, associations, societies, and even online communities from afar might look like a lot of work, time, and money, especially if they are watching colleagues or managers grinding away on association “work” while not understanding the value. A busy professional may notice their peer’s time out of the office attending events and conferences, the humble-brag complaints about the hours spent creating presentations, or the many after-hours hours spent doing board work. To these observers, the value may not be so apparent.

So, how do we convince potential and new members that the organization is here to support them, not the other way around?


Hold the Sales Pitch

In my conversations with members, one frequent new member complaint is over-the-top sales and marketing too soon after joining. “I just joined, and they are sending me tons of emails to get me to spend even more money; what did my membership buy me?” Or, “I feel like a wallet.” Or, “It seems like I just paid to be placed on a marketing mailing list.”

No association intends for new members to feel like this, but it happens—a lot. To answer this problem, some organizations hold back all marketing messages for new members for some time, prioritizing value-packed messages.


Prioritize Fast, Easy, Meaningful Value

Members will see the value to them when they get the right value at the right time. What challenges are they struggling with? How can you provide some solutions that are quick wins, easy to understand, and maybe even fun to do? One of my clients talks about snackable content: light, fast, fun, and helpful content like video, text, polls, and visuals that help members in minutes. If the consumer (of content) wants more detail, they can always dive into the follow-up resources you provide, like your courses, white papers, and longer articles.

Consider the 3 C’s: Concierge, connections, and community

How else can we let new members know we are here to support them? We can support them with one (or all) of the 3 C’s.

Concierge service – it might be difficult to know what challenge your new members are struggling with right now. Concierge service is one way to connect them quickly to solutions. Staff-to-member consultations or virtual orientation events can provide concierge service.

Connections – real human connections feel like support—connections between the staff and a new member or between a member and another member. Introductions, focusing on topics of mutual interest, and welcoming phone calls can give new members an unexpected and pleasant sense of connection.

Community – sometimes, new members get tremendous value from just knowing there are others like them. They might “feel the community” at their first opening keynote, reading through the online community daily digest, or during a virtual onboarding event.

About Our Guest Author

Amanda Lea Kaiser is a keynote speaker and author of Elevating Engagement: Uncommon Strategies for Creating a Thriving Member Community. Through her research, Amanda is at the forefront of exploring how member and attendee engagement is rapidly changing within professional communities.

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