One of the keys to success in business is taking the time to develop relationships. It’s easy in this day and age for one to hide behind their professional business title, losing the personal touch in their day-to-day interactions as their work activities become increasingly automated and repetitive. People are not a means to an end, but an end themselves. This is especially important to remember when gathering new members for associations.
Here are some tips for making sure that one’s association is capturing the human element in its communications when prospecting.
1. Complete thorough research
Typically, members are seeking to join an association for one of two reasons – professional development and/or new customers. However, given they are human beings shaped by a variety of interests and tastes within these confines, prospective members have broad motivations for membership. For example, some might be more interested in advancing legislative issues, while others are looking for exclusive educational resources or prestigious mentoring programs. These different interests will help an association know what information to present in their communications strategy. For instance, membership counts are crucial for demonstrating legislative impact, but may be less useful for members interested in coursework. It is important to research the prospective member’s wants and needs so that the association can how to court them.
2. Make small talk
Instead of jumping into a hard membership pitch at a trade booth, it is a great idea to take time to introduce oneself and ask a few exploratory questions. Asking questions is a great opportunity for primary research which better frames the membership pitch. Consider gathering information that answers the questions below, along with any others that might be useful for prospecting.
Where are they from?
What do they do?
What are their concerns for the upcoming year?
What are their professional goals for the upcoming year?
3. Be likeable
Association staff should keep in mind that their personality, attitude and demeanor is a taste of what prospective members expect to see once they commit to membership. All prospective members hope to form new connections and associations definitely want to gain long-lasting relationships. Therefore extending the kinder touch of a velvet hand rather than a rough shove into membership builds a more authentic, sincere and enduring bond between the two parties.
4. Show and tell
Humans are highly visual creatures – 65 percent of the population consists of visual learners. Therefore, associations should boast of any accomplishments or contributions relevant to their audience verbally as well as graphically.
Few tools are more powerful than video testimonials of contented association members. An association’s current members are their best advocates. Consider creating a series of clips featuring how members have benefited from the association. Additionally, a short reel of association facts, figures and contribution highlights is a useful tool for quickly and efficiently delivering need-to-know information in an interesting way. Wideo is a free, useful online video creation tool and Prezi creates animated presentations that are great for illustrating facts and figures.
It is always a best practice to keep in touch with prospects through a phone call or email. If the association staff made a connection on the first meeting, the conversation may lead to an opportunity to offer guidance for some of the prospects discussed professional or business concerns.
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