Industry associations and other voluntary membership bodies rely heavily on two things to sustain membership:
• An emotional value proposition and connection – members ‘feel proud’ of their organisation and ‘feel’ it does good things for them.
• A tangible connection – members can access specific and tangible benefits in terms of member-only products and services.
While both benefit packages are important, the more rewarding is the emotional ‘feeling’ connection. Members who feel proud of their organisation, who ‘feel it does good things on their behalf’ are more likely to:
• Remain members.
• Refer new members.
• Be inclined to accept higher subscription rates.
Making that connection: The importance of engagement
A large part of generating that connection with members is planned, managed, sustained and targeted engagement with them; engagement that is deigned to build awareness, enhance credibility, generate respect and trust and … as a result, provide influence.
This is the process of public relations. And it’s more than just what some people refer to as ‘comms’.
The basic business of a membership body is to engage effectively and efficiently with members as a priority audience.
Using the Three Ps approach
At The PR Company, we rely heavily on the Three Ps approach to devising and achieving effective public relations and engagement programmes. We focus on:
• Appropriate Positioning for the organisation. The association or membership body must prioritise services, products and initiatives that provide a perceived benefit to members, usually linked to an emotional response. Even if not all members benefit directly and all the time from what the association does, they must see a value – even an indirect one.
• Effective and efficient Promotion of the organisation. This requires the planned, managed, sustained and targeted delivery of RACS messages and incentives – messages that are Relevant to the audience, Actionable (strong call to action/benefit), Compelling (what’s in it for me), and Simple (the message gains cut-through quickly in a very cluttered space.
• Robust brand Protection to ensure the product/service/brand can sustain its positive positioning in the minds of the audience.