Triggers and Targets

How to Inspire your Members to Act

How to Inspire your Members to Act

A practical guide to manifesting inspiration through triggers and targets

A cartoon from the New Yorker a few years back shows two cavemen. One is drawing on the cave walls. The other is holding a bow. The caption reads, “Enough storyboarding. Let’s shoot something.”

Now that you know you need inspired members (and the clarity, energy, and spark that inspiration must have), it’s time to see what inspiration looks like in practice. Luckily for you, all these big ideas can be executed using two things: a trigger object and a target object.

In essence, your brand is the trigger that inspires people to take action. More specifically, your products, events, and special offers trigger inspiration. The target object is whatever you want your members to do—whether it’s register for an event, make a purchase, tell a friend, etc. For example, you might offer an early bird discount and encourage people to register for your event. The discount is the trigger. Registration is the target.

You can’t have an effective trigger if you don’t know what you want your audience to do. Similarly, a target object is useless without a trigger to direct your members towards it. It might go without saying that in order to have effective triggers and targets you must know what your audience wants and needs.

You might find it’s easier to start with the target and work backwards. If you want more Millennials to register for your event, what inspiring triggers might make that happen? Next, you can decide which tactics—email, social media, direct mail, print ads, etc.—might be most effective at communicating the trigger and target objects to your base. (More on tactics next time.)


Three Triggers, Six Targets

Identifying triggers and targets gets even easier when you break them down into categories. There are three common types of triggers: product-driven triggers, networking triggers, and unique triggers. Your targets will typically fall into one of six categories: make a purchase, register for an event, sign-up for membership, tell someone else, visit the web, or make an inbound inquiry.

Product-driven triggers include concrete items, such as your downloadable information; certifications; pre-conference events; and the educational sessions, workshops, and tracks available at your annual conference. The target of product-driven triggers is often asking your members to make a purchase or register.

Networking triggers revolve around planned/forced networking events and organic networking events (i.e. the unscripted variety that happens as a result of being present at your event). Your goal is to trigger your base to register for your event and, by extension, to connect with others, become inspired to work towards a goal, attend your event yearly, or become more engaged throughout the year.

Unique triggers include a range of offers specific to your organization, events, and audience. For example, you might promote a special discount for members who attended a past conference but have been absent in recent years. Other unique triggers might be keynote speakers, opening sessions, luncheons, outings, or fun activities like game nights. The target objects of these triggers might be making a purchase, registering for your event, or attending a special session or activity.


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How to Interrupt the Babble

A concise, minimalist approach to triggers and targets will be most effective. Yes, your event has a lot of potential triggers, but each promotion should focus on only one. Maybe it’s free continuing education credits or an early registration discount. Your trigger is the big idea. Everything else should support this idea or be eliminated to avoid distracting your audience. Identify one target object. What is it you want people to do? State this clearly and concisely as a call to action. For example, “Register by November 1 to receive your early bird discount.”

Don’t forget about clarity, energy, and spark. Your message will need all three elements of inspiration to cut through the babble and avoid becoming noise. After all, your goal is to INSPIRE people, not bore them to death or overwhelm them with useless “stuff.” Complementary visuals can help you here, too.

Lastly, make it easy for your audience to take action. Include an obvious link to your registration form, enclose a response device in your direct mail, and state your contact info repeatedly on all promotions. Don’t make your inspired members search for what to do next. You might lose them along the way.

Triggers and targets are the “clubs” you need to go after inspiration and make action happen. Happy hunting!

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