How well do you really know your most important customers, members, clients, or donors? The more you know about your key audience segments, the better you will be able to develop successful products and services that meet their needs and use the language that resonates most with them. Can you Read more…
Engaging members, donors, and customers in your organization and building a thriving community ensures strong relationships that go the distance. The more engaged and involved your members are, the higher your retention rate is likely to be. While this is the lifeblood of associations and nonprofits, it is also true of many businesses.
Building a thriving, engaged community can be key to any organization’s success. Engaged, caring customers are more likely to be loyal to your organization – highly satisfied customers have less reason to look elsewhere. Price differentials (unless they are drastic) are less likely to matter if your customers or clients feel connected and valued, get the results and quality they expect, and have a superlative customer experience with your company.
Association experts often use a pyramid or ladder as a useful representation of levels of engagement, from the most common activities at the bottom (e.g. reading your newsletter, liking your Facebook page) to moderate level (buying a publication, attending your conference or a webinar) to the highest value involvement at the top (Board member, corporate sponsor, or member champion who recruits many new members). It is critical to thoughtfully draw a ladder or pyramid of engagement that is unique to your organization.
Member engagement can take so many different forms. What does engagement look like for your organization, from the most casual to most intense levels?
What are your goals for engagement and what do the different levels really mean to you – from generating revenue to relationships to service to the organization? What does it mean for your customer or member – what value are they getting, what needs are being fulfilled?
Membership organizations have faced unprecedented challenges in the last few years between the impact of the economy, massive changes to so many industry sectors and professions, and constantly evolving technology and ways of doing business. New entrepreneurial membership web sites may enter your niche that offer online services that meet many of your members’ needs at a lower cost.
There is a sea change in people’s attitudes toward associations and other membership organizations. It is no longer a given for people to belong to a professional or trade association.
The bottom line – it is not about your organization, it is about your member or customer. What is in it for them?
What are the compelling reasons that people should belong – not because they are in this profession or business but because your organization gives them benefits that they cannot live without. Do you know what is important to your members and prospective members? What they need and want? What problems keep them up at night? How can you help solve them?
If your answers to these questions are based on historical answers, it is important to revisit them through market research, listening to your constituents through social media and what they say when they contact your organization, and having regular conversations with members and prospective members in key segments. Take every opportunity you can to chat with people and listen carefully to what they care about. Ask questions about how can we help you, how can we make a difference in your life and to your business?
When you promote your organization, products, and services, do you emphasize how you deliver unique value based on your customers’ wants and needs…or do you list features that showcase your organization’s strengths? It’s the benefits vs. features issue. Superlative marketing features laser focus on benefits that appeal to your most Read more…
When people share how they are using social media (or NOT!) for their organizations, I hear everything from sheer anxiety to pure delight. Using social media is
- Exciting and energizing
- A great way to share information and ideas
- An opportunity to hear what customers, members, and constituents are thinking
- A very effective, free promotional tool
- A waste of time or at the least too time consuming
- A privacy nightmare and intrusion into people’s private lives
- A risk mitigation waiting to happen
- An opportunity to listen to your customers’ conversations and feedback
- A tool to be used to help meet your organization’s goals and enhance your mission
- It all depends on your perspective.
Even the most hesitant recognize the wild popularity of social media, but worry about the time and energy it would take, are skeptical about how effective it would be, or are anxious about privacy, risk, and control. But take this into account — social media is more than a tool or trend, it has become the fabric of community, collaboration, and interactive communication.
While social media is constantly evolving, it is not going away, and it is imperative to be part of the conversation to stay current and position yourself and your organization for the future.
Are you getting the maximum impact from your social media efforts? Many organizations have implemented the first stages of social media engagement, typically including a facebook fan page, someone tweeting occasionally, and perhaps a LinkedIn group or Flickr feed. Experimenting with different tools and techniques, promoting a specific event or product is always great.
But to be truly effective and promote your brand and mission, you need to have a strategic social media plan that outlines the objectives, strategies, and outcomes you are seeking. It should align with your organization’s strategic mission and objectives and how you are using other traditional marketing and public relations techniques to meet them. And it needs to clearly define what success looks like and how you will measure it.
This doesn’t have to be complicated or lengthy. It does need to be fluid and continuously updated as you learn what works and doesn’t work for your organization and goals, and as the social media world constantly changes.
The Direct Business Impact of Social Media Outreach and Engagement
A huge benefit of social networking for most organizations is that the more you can engage and involve your current and potential customers, members, or clients, the more likely you are to retain them and to increase your share of their business. One of the greatest values of social media is to better understand your audience, get instant feedback, and provide an opportunity to listen and engage.