The projects I like best and which light my fire are the open-ended variety – you know the type:
- we need to increase income without touching membership fees
- how can we engage with stakeholders
- what can we do to add more value with limited resources
- how can we support members in their career progression
- we need to deliver our new five-year plan
- how can we promote the capabilities of our members
Defined projects get thrown my way too, such as:
- develop a CPD programme
- create or revamp an awards programme
- build a new website to increase recruitment
- write articles and member communications
As a result of the variety and scope of the many projects I have worked on and delivered over the years, the services I provide are eclectic and complementary. Take your pick from the list below or get in touch if you have a specific project in mind you feel my knowledge and experience will be of value for.
Providing what members are looking for in order to convince them to join … and just as importantly, renew their membership … is the lifeblood of membership organisations. I audit member offerings and advise on and recommend solutions, e.g. CPD programmes, training and qualification provision, benefits of post-nominal use.
Membership marketing is about putting members front and centre of what you do and remembering the three cornerstones of effective membership organisations: the 3Rs – Recruitment, Retention ans Relationships. Membership marketing is how you keep the membership pot full with as little leakage as possible. I formulate strategies to help you achieve the delicate balance of providing and communicating the services members need with generating a commercial return.
There is a tendency for membership organisations to rely on companies / individuals wanting to be ‘in the club. This frame of mind relegates members to almost an afterthought, with products / services / benefits provided because they can be, with the expectation that the membership will value them. A Member Value Proposition (MVP) offers members a clear reason to join, remain or contribute to the member organisation in terms of what they think is valuable. An MVP is why a member chooses one organisation or none at all. An MVP is not a list of member benefits.
What a member needs from their membership with you is likely to change depending on where they are in terms of their career stage or company size. If you are a trade body, smaller companies may highly value the access you provide to the bigger players with the view of winning contracts, and larger company members may highly value the opportunities you provide in terms of access to politicians and civil servants. If you are a professional body, a member who is new to the profession may highly value the CPD opportunities, whereas someone with more experience may value the ability to network with other senior professionals at your events. Establishing the stages of a member’s journey, and mapping this against the products / services you provide, will identify gaps or surpluses which link to income streams.
The art of effective member communication is to speak to each member as though they are an individual – not one of many. This equally applies to when your membership is companies – you need to communicate with your contacts as though they are individuals. Establishing your touchpoints, i.e. the connection points with your membership, and making the communication relevant to their needs through messaging and the medium used can, and does, make the difference between a member staying or leaving to join a different organisation.
Competencies are the skills, knowledge and behaviours required for individuals to perform certain activities well. They provide clarity on what is expected of an individual and establish a clear link between individual and organisational performance. A competency framework describes what is expected across a range of competencies of those working in a profession and empower individuals by letting them know what to do; how to do it; why to do it; and when to seek help and advice. They are valuable in terms of appraisals and planning professional development.
My definition of a stakeholder map is: “A visualisation and analysis of who an organisation needs to persuade to ‘do’ something. This can be direct persuasion or via others who influence those you need to persuade.” A stakeholder mapping exercise will make your engagement strategy easier to write, and … dare I say it … more effective, because of the legwork you have put in to understand who you need to communicate with. Creating a map makes you examine your stakeholders to understand their motivations, concerns, interest and level of influence … all the factors you need for your PR / communications strategy to be successful. I will advise and develop an appropriate stakeholder engagement strategy and implement it if required.
A website is the shop window for your organisation and also enables you to deliver a multitude of services. From online joining to event registration, and the curation of expert opinion to online CPD provision. I work with membership organisations on their website architecture ensuring visitors can easily navigate and find the information they need, plus write the content with top level SEO techniques.
Whether you are a non-profit, have charitable status, or need to make a profit, commercialisation of your products and services will fund future activity for members. Your members should not be seen as cash-cows, and importantly if you want them to stay as members, should not feel that you are bleeding them dry whilst deriving little from their membership. Establishing what you do which generates an income, what are loss-leaders and what is a drain on your bottom line needs to go hand-in-hand with identifying gaps to fill with new products / services and amending an offering to make it more appealing.
Social Media has well and truly arrived as a bone fide communication tool. Platforms come and go, but to dismiss social media out of hand will be at your peril. Conversely, social media is not right for all organisations and should not be used just for the sake of it, but should at least be considered. I have created and implemented strategies, as well as trained staff to create content and manage updates, as part of integrated campaigns.
Many membership organisations hold award programmes, do you? They can be a highly effective way to reward and promote best practice in your industry/profession … but need to be done right. You need to position them as THE awards to win and not be one of the me-too award programmes who jump on the bandwagon as they can see pound signs. If you are the pre-eminent trade association or professional body then you should seriously consider holding an award programme to provide examples of great work for others in your industry/profession to aspire to and be inspired by.
To revitalise your membership activity, have the benefit of a PR specialist on your board, understand the ramifications of the decisions you want to make on your membership, or for a fresh approach to your membership offering, let’s have a chat.