Get off the acquisition and retention roller coaster and learn how to inspire your members with effective strategy.
How many times have you seen membership and engagement spike for your annual event only to drop off soon after? The acquisition and retention roller coaster is not a sustainable way to achieve your organization’s mission. You’ve piqued interest and maybe even moved members to take action, but unless you continue to energize and inspire them your organization can’t be sustainable—and no amount of networking, education, and certification can remedy the situation.
We know inspiration starts with CLARITY to raise awareness and reassure the interested. But you also need ENERGY in the form of strategy that articulates your expertise. Energy can help you break the roller coaster cycle, fuel high-quality connections, drive brand attachment, and improve member engagement.
You Need More Than a Mission
Having a clear mission and being excited about it doesn’t guarantee you’ll inspire people to take action. You also need a strategy that communicates your value and expertise. But before you can effectively communicate with your audience, you have to get their attention. You have to speak their language and connect with them emotionally. You must learn their pain points and offer solutions. You must understand their archetypes and what keeps them up at night. No matter how great your strategy is, if you can’t cut through the babble to reach your intended audience, you’re wasting your time.
Here’s a look at how to create a killer strategy AND how to make sure you communicate it effectively:
WHY are you doing what you’re doing? What outcomes do you strive to achieve with your marketing communication? You might have an attendance number in mind or a financial goal you’d like to reach, but set those ideas aside for now. Your objectives should be bigger! First you need to create high-quality connections where members openly express themselves and are also open to new ideas (1). When members forge meaningful connections with other members, engagement and brand attachment increase as a result. By connecting and inspiring people, you move them to action—to work towards your mission—and create a sustainable organization. Aim for high-quality connections and your attendance and financial goals will take care of themselves!
There is simply no substitute for knowing your audience when it comes to good marketing that generates results for your brand. Who exactly are you trying to inspire? You probably have an idea of your organization’s key demographics—age, location, job title, purchase history, etc. While these details can inform your messaging, knowing your audience goes beyond the data. Archetypes are broad categories that help you understand your audience, their concerns, their emotional state, and other key factors on a deep, meaningful level. Chances are your members fit into just one or two archetypes that you can master in order to communicate with them. (Read more on how we examine archetypes for effective marketing).
Brand Voice and Key Messaging
Now that you’re clear on what your objectives are and who you need to reach, it’s time to craft your brand voice and develop key messaging. Your voice is your brand’s personality. It should be human and show some vulnerability to draw people to you in an authentic way. Using the same voice across all marketing platforms assures consistency in your message and helps people get to know the real you—online, offline, or in person. If you don’t maintain a consistent, authentic voice, it’s easy for your messaging to become noise. If that happens, your audience won’t be able to connect with you, no matter how interested they are in your mission.
As we mentioned previously, simplicity is key to clearly stating your mission, and it’s a good bet when it comes to key messaging as well. What is the one thing of most value you want your members to know? (Ok, you can have more than one key message…but let’s not overdo it.) If your key messaging doesn’t tie back to your mission, it’s babble and you’re wasting your efforts.
A Lesson From Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs once said “Marketing is about values… It’s a very noisy world and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us.” The way to cut through the noise, said Jobs, is to focus on core values, not products. Apple’s mission is clear—improve the world through technology. Next comes energy and strategy: “Even a great brand needs investment and caring if it’s going to retain its relevance and vitality,” said Jobs.
Apple’s success comes from deeply knowing its audience and creating products and messaging that offer value. In fact, Apple knows its audience so well it often releases products in anticipation of demand. Jobs once famously quipped, “ People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” You only need to see the line around an Apple Store on the day a new iPhone comes out to know whether this strategy is working.
Get Off the Roller Coaster
It’s time to get off the roller coaster. In terms of the buying cycle, energy is most critical after you’ve raised awareness and inspired the interested. You need energy to move people toward making a purchase and experiencing your brand. You also need energy to maintain momentum once they’ve joined your organization or attended your event—to break the cycle of constant acquisition and retention efforts. No energy, no inspiration…no dice.
(1) Dutton, J. E., & Heaphy, E. D. (2003). The power of high-quality connections. Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline, 3, 263-278.
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