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Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees

Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees: 4 Tactics to Try

Of course you want to provide an exceptional experience for ALL of your conference attendees, but ensuring that happens for your first-time attendees is particularly important. Their decision to attend future events (and possibly even renew their membership) depends heavily on that first experience, so going the extra mile for those folks, in particular, is certainly worth it.

What does “going the extra mile” for your first-time attendees look like? Here are a few tactics worth trying:

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Brushing up on the Basics: A Refresher on Membership Essentials

Posted by Callie Walker


If you’re an association professional, you know every day is a whirlwind. One minute you’re drafting your monthly newsletter, then the next you’re planning for your annual conference. And two minutes later, you’re meeting with your board! Like we said: whirlwind.

Because of that, it’s easy to lose sight of the basics. Which is why I particularly enjoyed Lowell Aplebaum, Melody Jordan-Carr, and Miriam Wolk’s session as ASAE Annual titled, “A Refresher on Membership Essentials.”

It’s important to have a refresher every once in awhile, and while they covered a LOT in their session, I wanted to bring a few points (and key questions) back to you:

  • Definition of a member - When it comes to defining your members, don’t just limit yourself to “a member is someone who pays dues.” Think beyond that. A member could be someone who’s bought two books and attended your annual conference. Maybe you have several different “types” of members - and you should be marketing to them all. Are you? It’s worth a little thought.
  • Strategic planning - Be brave enough to ask yourself the hard questions. Here’s one: If your organization were to disappear tomorrow, would anyone start it again and why? Based on what you come up with, then ask yourself: Are we solving that problem? If the answer is “yes,” then you’re on the right track to a solid strategic plan.  
  • Revenue - If you’re like most organizations, your primary source of revenue is membership dues. You may offer individual memberships, organizational memberships, and perhaps e-memberships - but are you going beyond that? What about premium memberships? Are there any services you can elevate? For example, if you added two dinners a year with your board, would people pay for that top-tier membership? It’s worth some consideration.
  • Digital engagement - Your members’ expectations for the way they engage digitally with your association are shaped by the experiences they have with other companies. For example, Amazon Prime - everything is quick and personalized! Because of that, your communications should be quick and personalized as well. Are you using an association management system? Is your AMS synced to your online social community so that content can be personalized? Last but not least, do you have a strategy behind your organization’s online social community? If not, it will likely just become a dumping ground for all kinds of unrelated information.

Now these were just a few of the MANY topics covered during the session, but if you’d like to know more, I highly recommend checking out the book, Membership Essentials, which inspired the content for this session. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s definitely on my list!

And for more tips on managing your organization (from recruitment and engagement to revenue and retention), check out our free Guide to Membership Management below!

The Ultimate Guide to Membership Management  Everything you need to know about managing your membership online, from  acquisition to engagement to retention. Download this guide

Topics: association management, association leadership, membership management, Small Staff Chatter

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