Melissa Wiggins, Head of Client Strategy
With increasing member engagement still being one of the top three challenges faced by the sector, those working in corporate membership have further obstacles to overcome in connecting with their audience.
Organisations providing corporate memberships are commonly faced with more complex communication challenges, which often fall at the first hurdle with dependency upon a primary contact. This dependency presents significant risk, as when that person moves on, they take the knowledge and value of your relationship with them. We’ve detailed a few strategic methods for engaging corporate members for consideration.
1. The value of values
Alignment between your organisation and member businesses is critical and can only be achieved through successfully articulating and demonstrating shared vision, values and a mutually beneficial synergy.
Understanding the value that you bring to their organisation is key. Whether they are proud members using their membership as a ‘badge of honour’ or you regulate the industry therefore registration is mandatory, this positioning can influence their appetite for engagement and the perceived value of membership. Realising the areas in which membership of your organisation can add value to theirs is the cornerstone of any corporate membership engagement strategy.
2. Communicating impact
Wherever possible, mitigate the risk of the single point of contact by weaving into corporate membership, the necessity for having multiple contacts. You will likely need to justify why key stakeholders need to be connected with and will need to earn and maintain their connection through providing valuable touchpoints, relevant content and benefits. It will be worth it and will deepen the relationship.
3. Maintain and nurture
Maintaining the connection with members is critical. Having a communications strategy that plans the delivery of segmented and tailored content to the stakeholders you have access to will reinforce the value of membership whether its explicitly about the benefits of being a member, or implicit in the richness of the content.
Regularly communicating a Member Benefit Statement and an annual report on what you’ve achieved on behalf of members, and/or how you’ve responded to member feedback can help to maintain a positive feeling towards your organisation.
4. Empower and deliver
One of the challenges faced by your corporate members is likely to be employee engagement and internal buy-in. What is a challenge to them is an opportunity to you. If you get the majority of the company engaged, you’re all positioned for success! Be proactive in assisting your corporate members to achieve this.
5. Continuity in the face of uncertainty
Sometimes it simply isn’t feasible to grow the connection base within your corporate member beyond your primary contact. In instances such as these where that contact leaves, having an ‘outgoing stakeholder strategy’ will help to achieve continuity in the face of uncertainty.
In an ideal scenario your primary contact will connect with you, and where possible connect you with their replacement, but often you don’t feature in their exit planning. This being the case, look for ways to potentially mitigate this risk such as requesting 2 or 3 alternative contacts for in case of emergency, billing etc so that when you get a bounce from an email campaign you have another course of action.
Considering adding any or all of these things into your strategy can help to safeguard your organisation against losing the all-important member connection.
We will be exploring these strategies and associated techniques in further detail at our seminar on ‘Making corporate membership personal’ at the MemberWise Digital Excellence 2019 conference. If you’d like to find out more please join us at 11:50 in the session track ‘Partner Showcase A’.
NetXtra are a team of strategic, creative and digital experts who partner with organisations in the not for profit sector.