Strategies for Driving Member & Event Engagement

The following are my notes that I thought were worth sharing from a great session on the title of this blog post I attended presented by Results Direct and their team.

First, they started out with suggesting you need to create an engagement strategy.

Understanding the needs of your members and meet them where they are is a great place to start.

Here are their 10 strategies:

Engagement Strategy 1

Multi-channel communications – email has been the main way your members have gotten information from you.  Now it’s time to think of multi platforms (think social media) where you can connect with your members or prospective members.  A large number are engaging on mobile.

Engagement Strategy 2

Personalization – get to know your members and communicate with them directly where they are (think the different generations) and how they want to receive your organizations information.  

Engagement Strategy 3

Year-round networking and community – staying connected is key in keeping your members engaged and will help your retention.  Mobile communications is a great way to keep them engaged.  Create forums where they communicate with each other (think listservs).

Engagement Strategy 4

The medium is the message – meet the member where they are.  Manage your message and how you are distributing that information.

Engagement Strategy 5

Deliver content in the format members want – is it written, video, audio?  Do you use different digital formats to reach your members and prospects?

Engagement Strategy 6

Create experiences – shared experiences with your members.  Your role is to facilitate this process.  When in person, this is where you need to take full advantage of creating an experience your members will tell their peers (think memories).

Engagement Strategy 7

Incentivize engagement – reward behavior you want your members to do on a regular basis.  You have to decide what reward you want to give out (free meeting registration, gift card, etc).

Engagement Strategy 8

Engage members before, during and after events – think about continuing to push relevant content to your members through a mobile channel.  That is the easiest way to stay connected to your member throughout the year.  Have you thought about creating an app for your meeting

Engagement Strategy 9

Capture moments of time – use technology to get you content to your members.  People’s attention spans has shrunk.  So, think about less is more in your communications.  Another way to think of it, how can your members consume your information on the go!

Engagement Strategy 10

Create an integrated engagement strategy – create a dashboard on where you are creating your content and events and make sure they are integrated.  Decide what is successful for you. Some people may call it the member journey and you’re creating the road map for them to engage.

They ended with the comment that the goal of all these strategies is to engage your members which translates into higher retention numbers.

For more information from Results Direct go HERE.

Membership Marketing Plans

What is the goal of your membership marketing plan?

As we all know, our organizations provide benefits and services to our members, such as networking, advocacy, education, and promotion.

Your goal with your membership marketing plan should be to increase your membership base and retention rate by implementing effective marketing strategies that address the needs and interests of your target audience.

Our target audience consists of small and medium-sized businesses in various industries and sectors, as well as professionals and entrepreneurs who seek to grow their businesses and careers.

Your primary products are your membership packages, which offer different levels of benefits and access to the Chamber’s resources and events.

As you’re creating your annual marketing plan, are you focusing on the market trends and opportunities in your community?  You may want to consider the following in serving your members and prospective members:
  • The demand for business support and guidance in the post-pandemic economy.
  • The increased use of digital and social media platforms for business communication and promotion.
  • The need for local and regional collaboration and advocacy among businesses and stakeholders.
  • The desire for personal and professional development and learning opportunities.

In addition, does your membership marketing plan include the following objectives:
  • To increase the awareness and visibility of the Chamber and its benefits among potential and existing members, using various marketing venues, such as the Chamber’s website, social media, community events, and print advertising.
  • To create and deliver value-added content and programs that showcase the Chamber’s expertise and thought leadership, such as webinars, podcasts, newsletters, blogs, and workshops.
  • To engage and nurture relationships with potential and existing members, using personalized and segmented communication and outreach, such as email marketing, surveys, testimonials, and referrals.
  • To incentivize and reward membership acquisition and retention, using discounts, promotions, loyalty programs, and recognition awards.

And make sure to measure your membership marketing plan goals:
  • To increase the membership base by X percent in the next year, resulting in an additional revenue stream of $X.
  • To increase the membership retention rate by X% in the next year, resulting in a reduced attrition rate of X%.
  • To increase member satisfaction and value rate by X%.

Your membership marketing plan should be a comprehensive and strategic approach to achieving your membership goals and enhancing your reputation (think Your Brand – for two previous blog post on branding go HERE and HERE) and value proposition in the market.

Your plan should also be aligned with your mission, vision, and values, and reflects your commitment to serving your members and the community.
For a great resource on membership marketing visit Marketing General HERE

Renewals and Lapsed Campaigns

I recently attended a webinar on the title of this blog.  The following are my notes from what I found as helpful tips.

Early engagement is a key component in your retention efforts.  Start right after they join.  Here are a couple of ideas mentioned.

  • Start a conversation with your initial onboarding communication.
  • Enroll them in the members only part of your website.
  • Conduct quarterly conference calls with the president with these new members.
  • Have a special event for new members/first timers at your annual meeting.

They went on to discuss different ways to engage your members in the renewal process by sending a series of three emails.

  • 60 days prior to due date – do you plan on renewing?
  • 30 days prior to due date – what have you found most valuable?
  • 20 after due date – did you know you're pass due?

Obviously, each of these emails will allow them to renew.

When it came to lapsed members, they suggested:

  • A quick three question survey on why they lapsed.
  • Conduct a “we miss you” campaign six months after they’ve lapsed.
  • Use telemarketing for those lapsed members over a year and bring them back by credit card.
  • If appropriate, use your board members to make lapsed members calls.  They know the value of membership.  They’re your best ambassadors.
  • All your membership renewal communications should come from the President and CEO.

As a final comment, it’s always good to review your renewal and lapsed member campaigns to make sure you’re taking full advantage of best practices.

Good luck!

Staying Relevant in a World of Decreasing Attention Span

I attended a webinar based on the title of this post and took the following notes that I wanted to share on this blog.

Bill Sheehan with Multiview started out with asking the question “what is your pain point with member engagement” and how do you define member engagement.
The new bottle neck is the attention with our members.  Or put a different way, we live in an “Attention Economy.”
After reading multiple sources, on average, people speak at a rate of 150 words per minute, while our brains can process up to 1,000 words per minute.  Now you know why our attention can be diverted.
How do you get through the clutter?  Here are his tips:
Be a trusted source of information.  Think like a media company and focus on 4 main commonalities – your audience, distribution channels, content, and advertising platforms.
Audience – where do your members spend their time?  Collect as many data points as you can on your members.
Distribution channels – social (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.), your website, blogs, videos, influencers, podcasts, newsletters, annual meetings, etc.
Content – what is your expertise?  Focus on what your members want and need.  And don’t forget the quality and consistency of your content.  Stay in your lane (i.e., your mission).
Advertising – working with your members on sponsorships to promote their business and generate revenue for your chamber.  What platforms are you using to get your message out to your members and community while generating non-dues revenue?
Develop a strategy to maintain the attention of your members.  Get all entities within your chamber rowing in the same direction with your program of work and your communication vehicles.  At the end of the day, it’s about communications.  Are you communicating in a direct and consistent way?
You need to be agile and know that you can’t be all things to all people – one size does not fit all.  Remember, there are five different generations out there in today’s workforce and they can consume information through different channels.
My final comment, stay on message and grab your member or prospective member’s attention!
For a great book on effective communications titled Smart Brevity go HERE.

Making Connections: Supercharging Your Networking Activities

I attended a great webinar the other day on how to supercharge your networking activities from the folks at NXUnite.

The following are my notes in no specific order based on a series of questions they asked and answered.

Why is it critical for networking at your events?

  • It’s a top result from surveys and a top benefit.
  • Relevance bringing our members together.
  • It is hard to measure.  Getting with folks just like you who understand the world you live in.  Celebration, collaboration, and share failures with your peers too!
  • Don’t forget to let technology allow for other ways to network during your events.
  • Our job is to create the space to have our member’s network and learn from each other.

How can we help our members authentically engage versus just showing up?

  • Scheduling is key.  Make it a priority!  Plan with intent not just having a reception.  Have a plan to bring your member’s closer together.  Issue based, geographic, etc., are a couple of ways to segment your networking.
  • Remember, this is a big part of the reason your members are attending your events.
  • It can’t be frivolous or just have a “cheese plate.”
  • Maybe have a speaker or sponsor in the room and introduce them with a fun fact!  It’s a great way to get the networking started.
  • “Ask me about (attendee fills out something unique about themselves” on name tags.  It’s a fun networking starter.

Difference between in-person and online networking?

  • You can do both, but you need to be intentional.  You need to build spaces for the networking to take place.
  • It’s not about having an open chat room online.  Be specific on the reason for any rooms you’ve created online.
  • Focus on the experience your members will have online.  You need to figure out what your members want.  Remember, online, you can only have one person talking at any one-time vs in-person where everyone can be interacting.

How should you evaluate your current networking activities?

  • Look at your AMS data, registration data, and folks who may have uploaded their profiles.
  • Ask specific questions in your follow up survey.  Find out which members want the networking and learn from them by digging deeper on who they are.

Advice for upping the Annual Meeting networking?

  • Coffee breaks, be intentional on how you can use this time wisely.
  • Create an experience that your member may not be expecting.  Do you have an element of surprise in your networking events.
  • Promote your networking events but hold back that surprise element.
  • If you have an awards program as part of your event?  Do it on the front end not on the backend so people can react and network with that person in the next day or two.
  • Gift giving networking event?  You have to get someone a drink or they have to get you one as an ice breaker.

Final thoughts:

  • Not all of your attendees want to network, so don’t force it on people, but make sure you do focus on networking for those who want it.
  • If you can survey your folks before your event for what they want, try to respond with what they’ve told you.
  • Involve your sponsors in these networking events and they may also have ideas they’ve experienced somewhere else that you could integrate.
  • Introverts could thrive in your online networking where they may feel overwhelmed at an in-person event, something to think about.
  • Don’t forget to use your name tags as a networking opportunity.

For other ideas on networking go HERE and HERE.

State Legislatures – How Did Your Session Go?

It’s March and most state legislatures are in the middle of their session and will start to wrap up business for the year, in the next month or two, with the exception of special sessions.

We’re you prepared to handle the issues raised and debated at your state Capitol this year?  How do you prepare each year?

First and foremost, do you have a policy committee to address the top issues for your business community and state and do you have positions on those issues?

That’s the role of a public policy committee.  If you don't have one, create one now to address the policy issues for your chamber, ahead of each legislative session, so you’re not scrambling to come up with a plan to address the issue of the day.

As a general rule, you should not be surprised on the issues that will come up or be addressed each year by your state legislature.  Do your homework!  Be ready and communicate where you stand on upcoming issues before the state legislature to your members and your community.

For a great resource on preparing for an upcoming legislative session, in your state, by Muster, go HERE.

For a great resource on the 2023 Legislative Sessions around the country go HERE.

Annual Social Media Review

The new year has started, have you taken a look at your social media presence? 

If not, now is the time to take an intentional look at what you’re doing, determine what’s working and what’s not, and be strategic about moving forward.

In the old days, people thought you had to be everywhere all the time.  Those days have changed.  Find out where your members are sourcing their information and make sure you’re in the sandbox.

For a great resource on conducting a social media audit for your organization go HERE and HERE.


Now that you’ve conducted that audit, use those data points to chart a course going forward!

As stated above, be intentional on what you want to do and spend your resources accordingly.  That means staff time and money.

Lapsed Membership Mailings

It’s that time of the year to jump start your membership with a lapsed member campaign.

I’ve written about this in the past, but it is at least an annual campaign you need to have in your membership marketing plan.

I personally believe you should conduct at least two, and I’ve worked in organizations that did them on a monthly basis.  If done right, they’ll generate members and money.

Two things you need to put in order before you launch your campaign.

  1. Clean-up your member database; and
  2. Decide what your offer is going to be.

As stated in the past, I've done the mailings in two ways:

  1. Invoice only; or
  2. Invoice with a cover letter highlighting the latest activities of the organization and any recent activities they’ll recognize that they benefited from.

If you do a letter, make sure you have a contact person they can reach out to directly and also the ability to pay online.  The key is to make it easy for them to rejoin!

And what's most important is that you don’t delay.  Jump start your year with that lapsed mailing campaign, with updated membership, data today!

For a great resource on tips and templates for lapsed membership campaigns go to MemberClicks HERE.

LEAD-ER-SHIP: No Regrets. No Retreats.

The following post is based on William Canary’s new book titled, LEAD-ER-SHIP: No Regrets. No Retreats.  For a copy of the book go HERE.

After reading the book, I wanted to post a “Leadership Is” list of nuggets that jumped off the pages for me that I want to share.  I hope you enjoy!

Leadership is leading by example.  Trust those you lead as partners, not employees.  Put people in a position to succeed with the resource they need to succeed.

Leadership is not about titles.  Leadership is about being authentic.  Be a teacher, educate and motivate your team members.  Create an atmosphere where people can make a difference.

Leadership is about communication.  It’s also about being a great listener.  And when communicating - be clear, be concise and use words your team can embrace.

Leadership is about optimism.  I personally like to quote a leader in the restaurant business I had the privilege to meet, IHOP Founder Al Lapin, who used to tell me, “Raymond, in business, there are no challenges, only opportunities.”

Leadership is about welcoming dissent based on well informed principles.  Not everyone will align with your goals all the time.  Leaders know how to respond.

Leadership is about failing forward.  Good leaders know their risk tolerance when deciding on a pathway forward.  William quoted Winston Churchill in this chapter, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

Leadership is about thinking outside the box, or as the author states in Chapter 7, “Thinking Ahead of the Box.”

Leadership is about challenging the status quo.

For blogs I follow on leadership, go to the right navigation bar down the page titled LEADERSHIP BLOGS.

Ten Tips to Prepare You When Disaster Strikes Your Community

The following post are my notes from a webinar this past Fall held by Institute for Organization Management faculty member Diane Probst, IOM, CCE on the title of this blog. 

She started out by stating the disaster can be anything from a major storm, their experience, to an active shooter, etc.

She talked about the two stages that come with every disaster:

The Crisis Phase

  • Your community is flooded with people to help.  Government and volunteers from across the country will show up.  It’s all about cleanup, money, and getting the community going again.

The Long-term Recovery Phase

  • You will probably need to hire people who can help you, identify sources of funding, develop a plan and communicate what you’re doing with your community, just to name a few.

She went on to talk about the 10 tips or “Lessons Learned” from their experience.

  1. Leaders stepping up to lead - stay in your lane.  Do what you’re good at.
  2. Unified “one voice” communication – stick to the facts and communicate on a regular basis.
  3. GoFundMe – in their case, they went from $2K to $1.4 million in 60 days in unsolicited funds.  The key is to have a process in place to receive and disburse those funds.  And who will decide where those funds go.
  4. The Chamber – stay laser focused on your role and you will persevere.  They also celebrated business re-openings to build support in the community.
  5. Social Media Whirlwind – the key here is to have a running list of what you’re doing so you can track what you’re saying.  It’s also key to put together a great communications team that can execute your plan.  This is how you will tell you story on how your community is opening up for business.
  6. The Disaster after the Disaster – you need to identify where you will house all the donation items that are sent your way (think truckloads of water, etc.).  Diane talked about how the faith-based organizations are a good resource for you to tap into and help in the phase of your recovery.
  7. Economic Revitalization Must be Quick – identify and promote the economic activity that’s going on in your community.  They focused on back to business activities (concert, TV and radio appearances, etc.).
  8. Failure to plan is a plan for failure – a long-term recovery plan is so important.  This plan needs to identify who will do what when it comes to implementation.
  9. Find Healthy Happiness – take care of yourself, physically, spiritually, and mentally.  Embrace the process of getting your community back to business.  She couldn’t emphasize enough, “Take Care of Yourself.”
  10. Mistakes & Move On – be confident on your work even when others might doubt you, don’t let that affect you, you will weather the storm.

Her final comment: Tell Your Story!

For resources on disaster management click HERE for how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce can help.