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Fighting the “Busy” Challenge with Year-Round Strategies

Fighting the “Busy” Challenge with Year-Round Strategies

By Mike Norbut, MBA MSJ

When is the last time you walked up to someone you haven’t seen in a while—let’s say a month or more—asked them how they were doing, and received the answer, “Busy”?

You may have heard this answer last week, yesterday, or perhaps even earlier today. “Busy” is a common refrain these days. Whether it’s real or perceived, people simply feel more pressed for time than they have in the past. As professionals who are asking individuals to share some of that precious time and money on association products and services, we are constantly faced with the challenge of members and prospects being “busy.”

So how do we overcome this challenge? By customizing our communications and making them too compelling to ignore.

On October 15, I had the honor of co-presenting an education session at Association Forum titled, “Membership 360: Year-Round Strategies to Improve Member Engagement and Strengthen Your Organization’s Value Proposition.” My colleague, Matt Hessler, CAE, director of membership engagement at the , and I focused on a few key topics that deal specifically with fighting through the clutter and the common feeling of being busy:

  • Retention starts on Day 1: You must continuously justify the value of membership. If you do, your retention message at the end of the year can really be more of a reminder of the many ways in which you helped the member during the last 12 months.
  • Segmentation is critical: Delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time will undoubtedly make your campaigns more successful and will increase the return on your marketing investment.
  • Answer “What’s in it for me?”: Just like it’s important to send the right message to the right person, you have to make your message succinct and compelling. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes; do you have time to scroll to the bottom of a long e-mail to decide if something is worth your time investment?
  • Build relationships: Instead of focusing on transactions, focus on connections. The more connected someone is to your association, the more loyal that person will feel. The trick is that loyalty only comes after you build awareness and compel engagement, so take it one step at a time.
  • Take advantage of your data: If you have extensive demographic information on your members, use it to understand not only what types of products and services certain members seek, but also at what stage in their careers are they most likely to engage in certain products and services.
  • Leverage your promoters: Every association has a group of loyalists who are happy to spread the word about their positive experiences. Though it’s great to measure how many promoters you have by asking a , knowing the characteristics of your promoters—and your detractors—can help you develop a more cohesive strategy to build your foundation and overcome complaints.

This was the third time that I presented these ideas and concepts with Matt to a Forum audience, and it’s great to see an engaged group of attendees share their own experiences and best practices. If there was a common theme among participants, it’s that the market continues to get more sophisticated and individuals continue to become more pressed for time. Taking advantage of our tools and information to make us more efficient and effective—and compelling—can help ensure that we remain top of mind for our key audiences.

Mike Norbut is the vice president of business development on Ϲ’s Leadership Team.

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