May 12, 2009

Personalizing Membership

It's not everyday when you have something crystalize as clearly as what I am thinking about today - personalizing membership. I've seen it at work in my own organization, as well as a professional development organization of which I am a part, during just the first four hours of my day.

My first example is in my own organization. We having our biennial convention this summer, and are in the recruitment mode for additional attendees. We have a great deal of folks already registered (which is really great with this economy), but now it's time to really hit the phones and reach out to the people we know are regular attendees who have yet to register. So how have we decided to do it? You guessed it - by finding that one person who really has the pull with the people we are targeting in order to ensure that they are going to attend.

We talked about with whom our Board members should connect, thus mobilizing our volunteers. We discussed who we know are regular attendees that we on the staff have personal relationships with, and have begun making our calls. Our undergraduate chapters are receiving continued outreach from their specific staff contact to encourage them to attend. It's all in an effort to really put a personal touch on our recruitment efforts.

I believe it really makes the member feel as though they're wanted there as opposed to receiving the bulk marketing materials that we usually do that aren't necessarily so effective. We have communicated through mass outreach efforts for a long time, but with today's culture and member, we know that we need to adapt to take advantage of the fact that making the experience as personal as possible is really needed.

The other example that I ran into this morning was with one of professional development organizations. They were doing their annual renewal drive, and while I did get three letters reminding me that my membership was expiring, what really got me off my butt was the personal phone call from the staff member with whom I work regularly. I immediately renewed after his call.

If it would have been a call from some random staff member, I don't know that I would have been so eager to renew, especially since I hadn't gotten the go ahead to use my professional development money for it through my office. With the economy, we have really been trying to save, and professional development is an area where we're trying to do so.

I guess I just think it was a nice touch to know that the staff member with whom I work regularly wanted me to renew. Even for someone who knows that it was something that they had done just like we had (i.e. divided up the list by who they had personal relationships with), I thought it was good to get that personal call. The innocuous letters letting me know of the impending expiration hadn't done it, but the personal call did the trick.

I guess the lesson here is not that new - people like to be treated as though they're the only member of your association. By making the experience personal, they will be more engaged, appreicate the association's efforts more, and be the raving fan that you need in your corner when something happens and you need them to be there!

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