What do people get when they sign up for an association, a union, a club, or any kind of membership organization? We know the benefits, the actual services they'll get for being a member, but what do they receive?
In other words, how is a group tangible?
Here's why this is important: when meeting another person, humans make eleven judgments about them in the first seven seconds, according to a study at NYU. Before you've even finished saying hello, the person opposite you has already judged your education level, trustworthiness, professional desirability, perceived credibility and more.
Customers are doing the same thing every time they make a purchase or join a group. When they commit to an association, they're looking for validation, some sort of return on the "What's in it for you" they were promised when being recruited.
This is why member fulfillment materials are so important. Done properly, they can make a member feel confident about their decision and give them a jumpstart to organizational engagement. When they're done wrong - when membership cards have misspelled names, or the welcome letter paper is cheap and flimsy - then the member is going to question their decision. And bad first impressions can last a long time.
It's not your association's "product," but to your members, fulfillment materials are as much of a product - or a representation of what they're paying for - as they'll ever have. What are the secrets to great fulfillment? How do you get new members off to a positive start?
Great fulfillment materials have these five characteristics in common:
- It's personalized - This one is obvious, but adding a "Dear Jane," line from a welcome letter is a simple way to make a new member feel welcome.
- It's quick - Time is of the essence with a new member - chances are they're excited to join your group, and the quicker you can officially "welcome" them in, the quicker they will be to start engaging.
- It's durable - That's a nice way of saying to make sure it isn't cheap. New members won't feel like their investment was light, but sending them paper cards and poorly written letters will make them wonder exactly where their dues are going.
- It's online as well as offline - Ideally your new members will receive an email along with their printed materials, assuming you have an email address. (If you need some ideas for collecting your member email addresses, click here)
- It calls for immediate action - Ask the new member to take a simple action right off the bat, to get them engaging. In Access' world, we find that the best way to do this is activation stickers on the member cards. It's simple and takes just minutes, but it pulls the new member into the benefits and incentivizes them to offer up that email address.