New Year, New You: Member Announcements to Start the New Year Off With a Bang
We all know the saying “Actions speak louder than words.” The start a new year gives your association the chance to start out on the right foot by showing your members that your association is truly passionate about the industry it serves.
It’s about time to start thinking about that annual report you have to write that recaps your organization’s accomplishments from last year. How do you think your association performed last year? Did you get the participation you wanted? Were your members satisfied? Did they benefit from something in some way, shape or form?
If you didn’t succeed in the areas of importance, perhaps it’s time to change up how to share announcements with your members to ensure they’re relevant and valuable. But, what does that mean exactly? Look, your members want to know that you care about them and what they’re doing within the association is truly making a difference in his/her life, as well as others.
It starts with recon work. To understand what really motivates your members and why they’re a part of your association, you’ll have to dig deep. Why are they a member? What are their goals for being a member? What do they truly care about? You’ll get the answers you’re looking for by simply surveying your members, or hosting a Q&A session during your annual meeting or convention. Once you’ve collected all of your data, you’ll be able to create a custom profile to know how to tailor your announcements to each and every member within the industry.
But wait, how do you tailor the announcements?
Each member is different and each likes to be communicated in different ways. You may be thinking, “There’s no way I can tailor each announcement to fit all the different personalities in my group.” And you’re right. Unless you’re utilizing every bell and whistle within your CRM system, that would take way too much time and effort. That said, there are some easy ways to ensure you’re grabbing your members attention without having to identify with each and every personality.
Know your audience: Use the data from your recon work and put yourself in your members’ shoes. If you are writing to inform members of a new policy, don’t use the corporate, legislative lingo when discussing – no one will read it. Instead, describe the policy and how it relates to your industry.
Here’s an example of corporate vs. industry-related verbiage from a nursing/healthcare perspective:
- Corporate: “With congressional Republicans poised to take their first step in a bid to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, leaders both for and against the healthcare reform law are gearing up for a high-stakes battle. Republicans are expected to use the budget reconciliation process—as they did in a measure Obama vetoed in 2015 — to defund key parts of the law.” – FierceHealthcare
- Industry related: “The Affordable Care Act will be challenged soon in Washington, D.C. anticipating that challenge, representatives from AzNA and other healthcare stakeholder groups have formed a “Healthcare Coalition for Replacement Before Repeal of the Affordable Care Act”. They have been meeting for several weeks to develop guidance principles for meeting the challenges ahead. HERE is the letter sent by ANA to President-Elect Trump listing ANA’s Principles for Health System Transformation.” – Arizona Nurses Association
Choose the right title/tease your readers: No matter what medium you’re using to make your announcements, it’s key to grab your readers’ attention. Those first few words can be the difference between your content being shared and completely ignored. Teasers are especially useful in social media platforms.
Here are a few of the must haves:
- How-to’s communicate that you’re getting useful information to them and that it’s attainable.
- Lists show your members what to expect when clicking through an article.
- Contests/Rewards show enthusiasm for an announcement. Plus, who doesn’t love free stuff?
- Topical references will allow you to use humor, drama, and timely references to your announcements.
Break up huge chunks of text: Some say that the average attention span of an adult is about eight seconds, so there’s no doubt that having a large amount of text can be foolish. If you have a lot to say, limit it to one thought per sentence leading to one theme per paragraph. Break up your paragraphs so they’re not getting lost in one giant one.
Put most important info up front: If your announcement has a lot of information within it, put the most important information at the top. For example, when announcing a webinar, you want to put the date, time and registration link at the top. Below that, you can share the summary and speaker.
Now that you know how to grab your member’s attention, it’s time to know which announcements give your members the most value:
New member announcements: Your members joined your organization to be a part of something larger and to meet individuals with the same goals and careers. But they’re also like recognition. Create a weekly announcement to list your new members and a little information about them will show that your organization is constantly growing and making an impact on the community. Plus, it will show your new members that you are grateful for them joining and make them feel special along the way.
Advocacy and legislation: There is consistent legislation brewing in your industry – on local, regional and national levels. Share with your members the policies that will affect them and their industry. Take the Affordable Care Act example from above. Any healthcare organization is affected by the ACA, so it’s pertinent that they know what will happen if it’s repealed or not.
What’s going on around your convention: You obviously want to announce your annual convention and the perks of registering early, but you also want to share the excitement of the host city. Get members excited to come and convene with showing them tourist attractions close to the convention site. Knowing that there is plenty to do outside of the convention will make it seem like a mini-vacation for your members.
How to get the most bang for your buck in CEUs: Every member is looking for ways to continue their education, but not everyone may have the money to do everything listed in a year. Talk to your board and see if you can give discounted rates for education classes and webinars. Perhaps you can make it a contest and mention that you’ll offer a reward if X amount of people sign up.
While most of this information may seem a little daunting at first, it’s easy to accomplish within your organization. With proper planning, you’ll be able to create the benefits that your members won’t be able to live without today, tomorrow, and five years down the road. It’s a new year. There’s never a better time to make some changes within your communication plan.