You Have a Great Story: Tell it Like a Pro!

I attended a great session recently on storytelling conducted by Brian Harrison, SEMA and Kate Sigety, American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at an ASAE Annual Meeting.

The following are my notes taken from their presentation.

They started by telling the history, the process and the different perspectives of telling a great story for your members, associations and your career.

Here we go!


  • 8.7 million species in the world, only 1 can tell a story, us!  Cave scrolls to books, to TV to Facebook walls.
  • Purpose has not changed in storytelling.
  • What has changed is the delivery (Think social media, instant communications).

The Process

  • Three steps (connect, create, communicate)
  • Connect - with your audience, what are their values, what are their needs and how can you reach them?
  • Create - remember the basics, keep it simple, show, don't tell, build from your mission (think child stories that we remember).
  • Communicate - pick your platforms, produce a dialogue, get feedback, analyze results.

Storytelling Perspectives

For your members - make them care.

  • Stories vs messaging.
  • Messaging without stories equals cold and inauthentic.
  • Stories in support of messaging equals connection and motivation.
  • The best story is one that doesn't require you to tell it.
  • Your stories need to be: engaging, emotional, entertaining and scalable.

For your association - stories will always be told by your members, make sure they are the stories you want told.  Attach emotion to your association's:

  • Member benefits;
  • Annual meeting;
  • Research; and
  • Education opportunities.

For your career - you are responsible for your story, own it!

  • Do you believe in your story?  If you don't, no one else will.  Think passion!
  • What is the "Why" in your story?  The "How" will not survive without a strong "Why."
  • Your story doesn't have to be perfect!
  • Attitude - your attitude affects your story, which is your prophecy.  Create your own narrative.  Integrate into your resume and LinkedIn and be persuasive.

At the end of the day, create stickiness with your stories.  It was a great presentation and their final words - Lead with a story!

Revitalizing Member Onboarding

We’ve all heard the terms, right?

Recruitment, Engagement, Renewal (Retention).

When reviewing your membership application process and onboarding of new members, start with the basics.

Ask yourself these three questions?

  • Is the application easy to fill out?  Do you make it easy for your members to renew?
  • Do you have ambassadors to help you sell memberships?  Think member-get-a-member campaign.
  • Do you send a welcome kit?

Once the initial transaction has taken place with the welcome kit.  Are you connecting with these new members in 30, 60, 90 day communications?

That is an example of drip marketing and an effective way of making sure you keep your new members focused on their membership. These communications should be personal and come from the CEO.  Think segmentation.

How do you personalize? Think segmentation.  Are you listening to them in the recruitment process? It’s important to understand their challenges and be ready to solve their problems.

Differentiation - tell your chambers story at the 30,000 foot level and then drill down to how you can help them with their needs.  At the end of the day, it’s about them, the member, not you.

Always remember to connect, listen and engage with your new members.  Don’t forget to communicate your culture!  What do you stand for in addition to what you are doing?

Think about how Amazon communicates with you if you’re a Prime Member - when you join Prime they don't send you one communication with all the benefits.  They send you three different communications, first is the free shipping benefit, then the movie TV option, and then the Prime Music station, etc.  Again, it’s called drip marketing and it's very effective.

Are you making phone calls to that new member six months in?  Old technology still works and should not be discounted.  Everyone likes a check-in call.

Create a script for your staff team or ambassadors who will be making the calls.  Most calls will go to voice mail, but you've made the contact.  At the very least, end the call with thanking them for being a member and a call back number should they need anything.

And at renewal time, prove your worth - are you doing a year in review document with your invoice?  Are you using video to show value by having your members give testimonials - show the value of ethics, connections, advocacy?

Communicating with your membership on a regular basis should be top of mind for all chambers and your members' lifecycle.

Finally, membership is a team sport - Membership Is Everybody's Business!  Go here for a blog post on that HERE.

Good luck in your revitalized onboarding process!