So many associations don’t do enough to toot their own horn. In my mind those that are successful at keeping their members in the loop so that they are crystal clear about the results the association is getting on their behalf is one of the most critical factors that separate the good from the awesome in the association world.
Here are a few rules of thumb to consider when it comes to tooting your own horn:
1. Show members that you are listening and that you actually care about what they have to say.
Example: “The membership survey told us that you think we’re doing a great job providing relevant professional development programming but that we’re falling short in providing you with opportunities to network with your peers. We’re listening and are working on a plan to raise the bar in this critical area.”
2. Demonstrate how you are taking action.
Example: "Based on your input, we’ve updated our education program to include opportunities that are more relevant to your needs. These will be launched this coming January and will include X, Y, Z."
3. Show members the measurable results you have achieved.
Example: "It has now been six months since we asked you to speak your mind in our member satisfaction survey. Since that time we set several ambitious goals designed to address your key concerns. Here’s an update on what we’ve achieved so far.
Government Relations Goal: Get a seat on X regulatory board by 2016 Status: Achieved
Media Relations Goal: Be called on for expert advice at the national media level 12 times per year.
Status: On track for 2015 with the association and its members appearing in national media 8 times.
Education Goal: Develop and fill six new workshops on the impact of the economy on our profession.
Status: First three workshops have been completed and were a great success. All were sold out. The remaining three sessions for this year are already at 75% capacity.
4. Do Your Homework
Make sure you understand what balance of communication works with your members. In other words, not only do you need to know what channels your members want used (email, snail mail, fax etc.), but how often they want to be touched by your association (once a month, week, day). You also need to understand what type of messaging is most effective for the different segments of your membership.
5. Tell Them Often and Tell Them Again
Communication to your members about what is happening in your association cannot be something done once or twice yearly. Depending on what you learned from #4, communication needs to be sent on a regular basis using different channels and with variety in the messaging to make sure the message ‘sticks’ to the different segments of your membership.