Every Small Staff Association (and many with larger staffs) runs into communication problems every so often. For some, communication can be a fairly constant stumbling block.
Here are four of the most common communication issues for any association and tips on how to handle them:
1) Wrong medium
It’s 2014, which means everyone has email, but that might not be the best way to communicate. For some it probably is, but for others social media is better. Some members are dedicated to logging onto your AMS, but some respond better to text message reminders and notes. Occasionally “old fashioned” methods work best: fax, direct mail, or fliers posted in workplaces. There are dozens of ways to communicate, and between your members they’re probably using them all. It can be frustrating and time consuming, but try to get your message out on as many channels as possible. You increase your odds with every medium used, and even when someone sees it more than once, maybe after the third or fourth time it’ll actually stick!
2) Wrong message
You have a lot of information to share, but sometimes no matter how relevant it is, it’s just not a priority to all of your members. Be selective in your audience. It’ll save you some time and effort as far as sending multiple messages (after all, if you have a smaller number of people they’re easier to reach) and it will save your reputation as a communicator by spreading only information that needs to be known to the people who need to know it.
Let me pause for a moment and say that #1 and #2 are the “easy” communication problems for association leaders. #3 and #4 are the ones that make them want to pull their hair out, and there really isn’t much you can do besides “keep on keepin’ on.” Book a massage and try again tomorrow!
3) Heard it before
Ironically, sometimes saturation of communication creates a tune-out effect; your messages become white noise. Hopefully not spam, but along the same lines in that it's easy to ignore. When this happens, it’s nobody’s fault but the members for losing the information. Unfortunately, you’ll probably get blamed once or twice for members not knowing what’s going on, but stick with solution #1 (sharing your message everywhere) and you’ll have done all you can do. Also try to work some word of mouth in there. Where members may be able to tune you out, they’re less likely to stop listening to their friends and colleagues. Simply adding a “share this event on Facebook” encouragement to your registration could go a long way!
4) “Can you repeat that?”
Sometimes the message just doesn’t stick. First, examine the message and make sure it’s a good one and second, try again. Different mediums, more reminders... somewhere out there is the perfect combination for your membership. It may take some trial and error but you’ll get there.
Perhaps some engagement would help your members perk up their listening ears? Check out our free guide to membership engagement!