In today’s fast-paced environment, it is becoming increasingly more difficult for trade associations to effectively and efficiently communicate their value to their members. Retaining trade association membership is just as important as attracting new members. It is a delicate balance of sharing the important work you are doing on their behalf while not flooding their email inbox or voicemail.
Relationships with members should be an ongoing initiative. Through annual in-person visits and phone calls, initiating and encouraging dialogue with your members not only provides an opportunity to communicate recent work by the association but also listen and provide professional insights to member strategies, developments and problems. Maintaining these relationships will be time consuming, but the more members know you, the greater the likelihood they will support your initiatives and continue to be a member of the association.
Keep members in the loop. Members will likely not intervene with the association’s daily operations, but they will want to stay informed. Email updates are the easiest way to continually communicate with members. Emails should be succinct and visual. Get to the point quickly and include numbers, charts, and links when appropriate.
Emails provide the opportunity to:
- Highlight achievements and milestones – KPIs, media mentions, new hires, etc.
- Share relevant news or trends that potentially affect the industry
- Detail challenges and ask for member support to brainstorm resolutions
- Develop toolkits detailing research findings or campaign results that can be promoted through member platforms (newsletters, social, etc.). Toolkits could include key messages, Q&A, sample blog post, pre-written social posts, and supporting graphics.
Additionally, it is important to know when to increase communication with trade association membership. These could be times of unexpected challenges that affect the industry. In these instances, it is important to keep members in the loop about the severity of the problem and offer strategies to alleviate the situation.
Consider bi-annual and/or annual reporting. Though this level of reporting isn’t required because you’re already sending out regular email updates, it provides an opportunity to summarize key developments, achievements, past and future research and programming, and spending plans.
These reports can be executed in a printed annual report or perhaps a conference call where members are invited to participate in a presentation by the association.
In summary, get in the habit of regular communications with your trade association membership. Once you’ve established a structure, it won’t take long to draft and push out updates.
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