And ineffective communication is one of the big reasons that members feel disenfranchised from their association.
That’s because good communication is such an important part of any relationship, be it with your partner at home, or between members and their association.
Here are five sure-fire ways you can improve your communications to members, and enhance their relationship with you.
Associations assume that all members want the same information all the time. They don’t. Members are individuals and will have differing content requirements. Content must be targeted. Yes, it takes a bit more time and effort but the alternative is to broadcast information that can be seen as unimportant, irrelevant or inconsequential and if that happens members will switch off. And nothing will spoil a relationship faster than poor communication.
Fix the ‘newsletter problem’
Some associations publish newsletters that are almost impenetrable. Some fill the space with whatever is to hand come publication time. Often the business of producing the newsletter is so all-consuming that little thought goes into it anymore. However, it’s imperative that real care and attention is paid to newsletter content. Think about your newsletter and your social media platforms as a subscriber-based media. Ask yourself “would I pay to read this?” Because, effectively, your members are paying to read it and they may not always want to pay for it. This mindset might influence your choice of content. It might also enhance your member communications and engagement.
Give ‘em news they can use
In line with the above, keep this thought in mind when casting about for content: Give them ‘news they can use’. This is how a journalist thinks. Most members don’t care about the administrivia of their association. They want content they will find interesting on a personal level or that impacts their business or other aspects of their life. So ask yourself – is it useful information, is it entertaining, is it meaningful to members in some way? Or is it space-filler?
Use the RACSS formula
When you construct content, use the RACSS formula. Write in such a way that your content is:
- Relevant to your audience
- Actionable in that the material motivates action or thought
- Compelling – it is difficult to ignore, forget, overlook
- Sticky – it is memorable
- Simple to understand
Use the media whenever you can. Nearly 80% of NZers get their news from the 6pm news. Stuff is the most widely read site in NZ, closely followed by the Herald. Newstalk ZB 7am news rates off the scale. Your members are listening to, watching and reading those news outlets, among others. If your message is in the media, your members will get it. There are three key benefits to using the media to communicate with members.
- The media is distilling messages so they are accessible and digestible. Not all association newsletters do that. So using the media to deliver messages means members get relevant information in easy-to-understand chunks.
- You are being seen to be abreast topical issues. Members like the fact their association is on top of things and is respected enough by the media to have a voice. They take pride in that. It’s also important for stakeholders to see you in the media, for the same reasons. Being in the media gives you a cachet, some kudos.
- Members just want to feel that their association ‘matters’. They are paying you good money for an intangible service and part of keeping members happy is to make them feel they are paying their money to a worthwhile entity. Being quoted in the media reinforces that perception.
So there you have it. Five simple ideas to engage more effectively with your members. Why do you need to engage them as opposed to just communicate with them? Watch this space.