Marketers have long created buyer personas to help them pinpoint their ideal customer. It helps them target their message when they know who their audience is. As a membership organization have you given thought to your member persona? Membership organizations, especially professional or trade organizations, may think that if someone is in a particular profession that is enough of a qualifier, and while I’m not suggesting turning folks away who are interested in your organization, you should take a look at your data and decide who is the ideal.
How to establish your ideal member:
1. Name. Think about your most loyal members, the ones who have been through it all with your organization. The ones who sing your praises and constantly tell you how much your organization means to them. Make a list of these special people and if you do nothing more write them a thank you card today.
2. Add. Now you have a list of members you’ve established to be your strongest, most dedicated. Now double-check your thoughts against the data. Use your membership management software reporting feature to isolate your top event goers, your top online community contributors, your top referrers, any activity that you assign value to and helps grow your organization. Are these the same people you deemed your strongest supporters? If not, add this new list to your existing list.
3. Socialize. Take a look at your public social media profiles. Who’s sharing what? Are the sharers in your ideal member list? If not, why not? Decide whether you want these social members to be part of your ideal member persona. You may want to consider having two groups as your Internet-savvy members may be very different than your tried-and-true event attendees. Both contribute in different ways. Do what works for your organization.
4. Analyze. Take this list and look over it. What do these people have in common? Play scientist here. Have they all been members for similar lengths of time? If so, are they long-time members or newbies? Maybe members are very dedicated in the beginning and lackadaisical as their membership ages. Do they all have similar backgrounds? How active are they on your community? Just as in science, create a few actions you would expect most of your dedicated members to perform. Look at your list. Is your hypothesis true? Do they all attend a particular event? Do they all have updated profiles? Now look outside of their actions and isolate characteristics. What is their age group? Their gender? Their professional level? This sounds a lot like stereotyping but what you’re after is commonalities.
5. Create. Use your information from the analysis you performed and come up with a description of your ideal member. Caution: this ideal member profile should never be used to exclude people from your membership organization. It’s just something that may help you during recruitment knowing who (in a statistical sense) tends to thrive in your community. You can’t be all thing to all people so knowing who benefits most from your organization and community helps you create programs targeted toward your most successful members.
Creating a thriving online community is not easy especially when you have not taken the time to analyze the audience. We talk of tailoring your offerings to your members needs all the time but if you are trying to do it for every member you have, you’d be exhausted and disconnected. Concentrating on your ideal member will give you a target audience but you have to establish one first.