Association Today

Association News You Can Use

Association Today is a blog authored by Paul Lundy that talks about the news and insights relevant to the association industry.

Attracting and Keeping Members: 5 Obstacles to Overcome

Attracting and Keeping Members: 5 Obstacles to Overcome

Getting and keeping members is the lifeblood of all associations. And they’re often puzzled when prospects don’t join or members don’t renew. How could they resist being members of such a great organization? Well, the short answer is they can and they do. Of course, there’s much more to the membership value proposition than this.

In a recent post to the MGI Tipster blog, Rick Whelan, president of Marketing General Inc., sheds light on five obstacles associations need to overcome to attract and keep members.

1. Accept that no matter what you offer, most prospects will never join, and every member will leave at some point. There is a percentage of the population who are nonjoiners. In fact, being a nonjoiner is a personality trait of most introverts. And an ever-growing number of prospects (and maybe even members) are also suspicious of groups. They don’t think they need what your association offers, or they believe they can get what you offer for free somewhere else.

2. Your association may have an awareness problem. You send out promotional materials that the prospect or members many times did not request, that are confusing, lack a strong and compelling offer, and make it difficult to join or renew. The harder you make the process to join and renew, no matter what the valid reason, the fewer the people who will join or renew. 

3. You need to address the no-one- I-know-or-have-ever-heard-of-is-a-member syndrome. Unless you can show potential members that others who have made it in their field are members, that their friends and associates are members, and that they will be better in their career and perhaps even richer in knowledge or money for joining, you will never get or keep their interest.

4. You don’t know your competition and what they offer that you do not. When you plan your membership marketing, keep in mind that drawing comparisons (pro or con) between you and your main competitor is a good and valid way to increase your response rates, even if your main competitor is not another association.

5. Your membership offer does not convey any value.You seemingly do not have any indispensable or “must have” benefits or services. You offer the readers nothing that they really need or realize they really need. In their mind, the dues you want do not match the value you offer.

I think Whelan makes some excellent points and would add that to overcome these obstacles, associations may need to utilize their AMS software in different ways than they have in the past that allow them access data more readily and be flexible in their reporting on membership trends.

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Created to Last: Make Your App All That

Created to Last: Make Your App All That

“Here an app, there an app…Old McDonald…” Well, you know how the rest goes. At this point, in addition to the farm, Old McDonald probably has an app. All kidding aside, apps have become a way life for many people, including your association’s members.

In May of last year, Apple announced that customers have downloaded more than 50 billion apps from its App Store. According to the company, customers are downloading more than 800 apps per second at a rate of over two billion apps per month.

That’s the universe you’re up against as you create apps for your association. The most common we’ve seen are annual meeting apps, and some have worked better than others.  In a recent white paper, Nick Black, co-founder and director at Apadmi, shared some key points to consider before you create an app.

    • Be clear about why you are building an app. In today’s app-driven world, there is an ever-growing expectation – your employees and customers expect you to have an app, and quite rightly they expect using it to be a good experience. Think about the end results of the app and what you want it to achieve.
    • Understand your target users. To design and create an app, you need to understand who your end users are. What are the demographics and technical abilities of your audience - savvy or novice? What will their usage patterns be? When do you expect them to use the app? And for how long? Where will they have connectivity and what mobile platforms and devices do you expect them to use?
    • Clearly define what the app will do. The keys to a successful app are simplicity, usability and reliability. An app should be developed to meet a specific need, or perform a specific task. It is better to launch a simple application that does one thing well, rather than one that does lots of things badly.
    • Design an intuitive UI. A good user experience is critical to the success of any app – if the experience isn’t good it will massively impact on your brand. Expectations are high; users are accustomed to well-designed, functional applications. An app that is not intuitively designed only serves to put up barriers to adoption.

All of these strategic issues were considered when we created Fonteva For Associations, and we continue to communicate with our users to find out how it’s working for them. We want to be sure that our app is all that and more.

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Bank On Collaboration

Bank On Collaboration

TAKEAWAY TUESDAY

Take it away! This is the ninth in a series of posts that will be featured on Fonteva’s blog highlighting important strategies associations can take away from other industries. In today’s sixth-degrees-of-separation world, your members are assessing your association not just in comparison to similar organizations but in relation to the totality of their experiences as consumers. As such, we want to help you stay abreast of key trends and best practices, those takeaways that may benefit your association.

Are all the right people in the room? It’s a question well worth asking, especially when it comes to creating new technologies.

For example, these days compliance employees at Bank of America are literally invited to sit at the table while programmers/developers create new technology for the bank. The goal is to create apps and banking software that is both secure and useful.

As Sean Sposito reported in Bank Technology News, published by American Banker, “the ubiquity of smartphones, along with banks’ need to iterate responsibly (read: regulation) necessitates a high level of collaboration between innovation and legal needs whereas in the past there would have been none.”

In addition, Sposito writes that “the growing partnership between departments has ramped up gradually over the past several years as the bank perfected its technology.”

The lesson here is that it’s important for associations to foster collaboration around creating technology. Even if progress is incremental, getting all the right people in the room will make the difference between innovation and stagnation.

 

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Let The Sunshine In

Let The Sunshine In

With the launch of X.com and PayPal in 1999–2000, Elon Musk revolutionized the online banking and payments transfer industries. I have always been impressed by his entrepreneurial spirit. His ability to think strategically and anticipate the future is incomparable as evidenced by his latest venture SolarCity.

Solar City is a public solar energy company. Recently, Washington Post Blogger Dominic Basulto shared his take on Musk’s approach to marketing/promoting solar energy to consumers as a utility. He attributes five insights to Musk:

    1. Solar energy is inherently an exponential technology. If there’s one thing Wall Street loves, it’s a good growth story, and that’s something that SolarCity has been careful to cultivate. The company already has 80,000 paying customers and expects to sign up one million customers within the next four years.
    2. Solar is a brand, not a utility. Elon Musk thinks about solar energy the same way he thinks about electric cars — it’s easier to sell if it’s backed by a highly-recognizable brand such as Tesla. As a result, SolarCity feels more like a traditional consumer brand, less like a faceless utility. The company has 30,000 fans on Facebook. That doesn’t sound like a utility.
    3. Solar is the rare business that can profit from cheap Chinese imports. Most companies are running scared of China these days, thanks to the ability of the Chinese to out-compete on price on just about everything. Elon Musk figured out a way to make the Chinese threat work for him, not against him. He got SolarCity out of the business of just selling and installing solar panels, and into the business of selling long-term lease contracts.
    4. Solar energy companies can tap into the power of the crowd. Perhaps the single greatest change in the solar business that can really propel the business ahead is its ability to tap into the power of the crowd. Shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy requires a massive change in preferences, habits and attitudes, and this is where the power of the crowd matters.
    5. You won’t hear about “peak sun” for another 5 billion years. Unlike a conventional fossil fuel utility, SolarCity doesn’t have to worry about running out of resources. We’ll never hear about “peak sun” the way we hear about “peak oil” because the sun isn’t scheduled to burn out for another five billion years.

Of these, two in particular resonated with me:

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App of the Month: KnowWho - CRM for Congress

App of the Month: KnowWho - CRM for Congress

Yes, there probably is an app for that, for just about anything you want to accomplish professionally and personally. But how do you know which apps are the best ones for your association? With so many of them being available, it can be hard to know which ones will be most effective for your organization. Just because there’s app for that, it doesn’t mean that you need it.

One of the biggest benefits Fonteva For Associations users are able to take advantage of is access to the more than 2,000 business apps available through the Salesforce AppExchange. You may already be familiar with some of them like MailChimp and Eventbrite.

All of the apps featured can be downloaded and used to extend the functionality of both Fonteva For Associations and Salesforce, and I’ll be highlighting one app from exchange the every month so that you’ll have a better idea of what’s available and may be most useful to you in your work.

The third app that I would like to highlight is Congress KnowWho developed by KnowWho Inc., a company based in Alexandria, Va., providing the only comprehensive Congressional directory for Salesforce. Built with a native platform and updated daily, this app puts detailed information about the members of Congress, their committees and caucuses, and all their staffers into Salesforce.

Users get detailed, automatically updated, account and contact CRM records for all these groups in easy-to-use, custom page templates. They can also leverage all the tools within their CRM to create campaigns, direct mail lists, e-mail lists, document audit trails and more.

Further, organizations also get one-click access to six different web applets from appropriate account and contact records to information including current news headlines, research services, bills and legislation, roll call votes,  and interactive district map and a printable “Briefing Report” in PDF format.

One user’s review emphasizes “having information about legislators in Salesforce makes it easy to go to one place to get contact information, send emails, and prep for meetings using all the bio information available.”

Given this functionality, think of the time and efficiencies your association’s GR or legislative affairs team could gain using Congress KnowWho. Read more online to see if this app might be right for your association.

 

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