It’s after the holidays. We’re all tired of finding little bits of wrapping paper stuffed in between the couch cushions. The kids are already bored with their presents. We just found Uncle Leo’s spare set of dentures behind the toilet. On top of it all, we’re broke.
Like a bad hangover, we’re emerging from the holidays vowing to change our ways and never do that again.
The first step: find more money.
People are cutting costs wherever they can. Nearly 700,000 people cancelled cable in Q4/2013. Pay as you go phones are replacing expensive wireless contracts and seldom-used landlines. Memes like the “52 Week Double Money Challenge” have spread like wildfire through social media. And the public’s demand for deals caused massive waves through the 2013 holiday shopping season.
Basically, if it doesn’t have some sort of return, or isn’t seen as a vital expense, then it’s on the chopping block.
They’re evaluating their membership in your association. Odds are they’re having trouble justifying the expense, because they may not know exactly what it is you do, or how you’re helping their bottom line.
It’s time to get on the offensive about showing your members just how valuable your association is. The best way to get in front of them? Their beloved smartphones and tablets. They begin and end their days with their phones in hand (or at least within five feet at all times). They check them in church and at the theater.
You need to be there. Here are three ways you can get some of that valuable screen time:
- Communicate – This one is obvious, but one of the reasons people don’t know about your value is you simply aren’t telling them. Most people are checking email and social networks on mobile devices, so it behooves your association to get active in both. Ask your members to sign up for a text alert system so they know when important dates are coming. Remember that all content – whether it be emails, blogs, or even web landing pages – needs to be mobile-friendly.
- Get Personal – Whenever possible, add personal elements to your communications. Always begin emails with first names. Use images of members in your marketing materials. Send them a text or email on birthdays. Ask them to tag themselves in your social media photos. Make sure they know you’re available to them at all times (aka, no “DO-NOT-REPLY” email addresses). These are all small ways of electronically showing them that you’re aware of their presence and grateful for their patronage.
- Add Value – Many associations focus on areas such as advocacy that absolutely benefit members, but how those benefits impact members’ bottom lines isn’t always easy to communicate. Sometimes you have to find a more obvious way to communicate how you’re helping them. One way that Access helps our education association partners is our branded mobile coupon app. It’s a simple way to get members interacting with the association brand every day while they’re saving money. Unsurprisingly, this connection has a great impact when members are looking at their dues statement, and the regular positive engagement makes them more receptive to the types of communications discussed in #1.
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to build a custom app for your association. In fact, many of your traditional marketing tactics will be mobile by default (such as email, social). The main thing is to communicate your value in a very real, personal way. Instead of being tossed out with the cable subscription and Uncle Leo’s teeth, your association will actually become a vital part of members’ lives.
Access Development is going to be at the NEA PR Council January 8-12, as well as the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Conference January 12-15. We work with dozens of education associations and farm bureaus across the country, helping them retain and engage members. If you’re planning to attend, please stop by the Access table for a free membership the nation’s largest mobile coupon network, a free “mobile wallet” and enter to win prizes.