Helpful Tips for an Association Membership Manager

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A membership manager has multiple tasks and wears a variety of hats, but the essence of their job is to drive engagement with the association and grow membership. They need to use their knowledge of the industry including trends, member needs and tendencies, and available opportunities–to create interest in their association. For obvious reasons, these primary duties make a membership manager one of the most important people in any association.

The specifics of a membership manager’s job depend largely on their industry, the resources they have available to them, and their association’s values. There are, however, some common requirements and challenges to the job that managers face. Therefore, it can be beneficial and excellent practice for membership managers to put some good habits in place, including strategies that will help keep them on track with their service to members.

Create a Member Roadmap

There’s a progression for a member and consumer, flowing from the initial contact all the way to the point of being a long-term member. While every member has their own unique experience, the path has some standard checkpoints along the way. The more accurately a manager can map these out, the better they can understand their members. To accomplish this, think about every touchpoint an association has with a member, every contact point that could be made. After identifying every potential engagement step along a member’s journey, it’s time to fine-tune the associational responses that they receive.

How will a potential member first hear about your association? What promotional material will they likely get? Think about what type of information you want to provide to entice interest and Imagine you’re a prospective member doing an internet search. Test out some possible searches and see what the rankings indicate. Depending on your industry and your market, you may consider targeting more niche areas and keywords to rank in. Go through every step and try to give members what they would want at every stage. New members, first-time event attendees, prospective renewals, potential mentors, all require a unique approach.

Finally, connect this into one cohesive roadmap; if all goes right, a single member could touch every stage along the way. This will help you to create a continuous and evolving experience for members.

Set Your Targets and Track Them

As a membership manager, it’s important that you break down your overall goal into smaller, measurable targets. For instance, every manager is looking to drive growth, but growth is a collection of a variety of factors, including increased revenues, memberships, renewals, event registrations, and engagement. While some will ultimately be related and overlap, try to isolate your goals by zeroing in on known problems or shortcomings in the association. It might help to go through your entire member roadmap and look at each contact point, evaluating and assessing their individual effectiveness in serving your goals.

When divided into more manageable targets, managers can better focus their attention on a specific goal and measure the results. Take a look at where expectations are falling short and think of ways to improve your outcome. Once a plan has been devised, operationalize it for a set period of time, track the response, and compare it to your previous attempts. You want to commit to the new plan for long enough to get a solid data set, but don’t be afraid to acknowledge when the plan has failed. The ability to admit defeat and move on is important in any situation—know when to cut your losses and get started on the next solution.

Try Something New

When trying to arrive at a solution or improvement, membership managers should not be afraid to try something new. Now, this is typically easy when a fresh attempt doesn’t work, but when members and staff get used to a process or application–even if it doesn’t work particularly well–it can be difficult to make a change. Don’t be shy about making adjustments. Research all of the available tools and resources; consider how they might improve your current setup.

Most of the time, sticking with flawed processes is grounded in budgetary concerns. For example, an association may continue to use underperforming software because they extensively customized it, and making a change would cost money. While understandable, budgetary concerns should be weighed against possible production improvements. Will a change improve your efficiency, member engagement, or member satisfaction enough to warrant the cost? In the odd case, a change can help improve a situation even when something appears to be successful! Rather than changing a working process outright, however, try your alternative out on a test audience or for a short period first. Experimentation is the key to saving both time and money!

Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open

One of the most important habits for a membership manager is to listen to and watch what’s going on around them. First, pay attention to your members. Reach out to them and ask them what they want as members and what aspects of their membership are falling short of expectation. Listen to what they tell you and make sure to actually use the information! When testing out new processes, request user reviews to see how they respond. Conduct surveys and give members as many opportunities to be heard as possible. The more say members have in their membership, the more invested they will become!

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