You are in charge of an amazing organization, complete with a compelling mission statement, an advisory board of talented and influential community leaders, and a platform that offers a gazillion perks. Your reputation is stellar (Awards! Positive press! Glowing referrals!) and your membership base is growing steadily through word-of-mouth. You are respected. You are an industry leader. Through hard work and dedication you have achieved your membership goals!
Now comes the tough part — keeping your members active, engaged, happy.
Here are some tips to help make that happen:
Communication is vital. Here at LocalShops1.com we have a monthly e-newsletter, and we also maintain a private members-only group on Facebook, in addition to our main Facebook page. Recently we started “office hours,” in which once a week for two hours we are available in person or via instant messaging for whatever our members might need, from help setting up their profiles on the website or for brainstorming marketing ideas with them. It’s important to be approachable, real and available.
Make it easy. Make sure your website is user-friendly, and that includes making it easy to register and to log in. Include an FAQ page with detailed information on how members can make the most out of their membership: what features are available, when/where are meetings, how can they connect with other members, etc. Keep meeting days and times consistent, and stick to the budgeted time.
Balance work and fun. Members might join your organization because of the educational opportunities you offer, but it’s the social aspects that will keep them coming back. If you’re hosting a workshop or featuring a guest speaker, for example, try to built in some time for networking, too. Consider scheduling some activities that are purely for fun/networking. Be creative. It’s OK to occasionally schedule something that’s off-the-wall, as long as you also offer enough substance elsewhere.
Empower your members. When members are encouraged to take the initiative, they’ll be your biggest cheerleaders. They’ll also be more likely to support other members, and that makes your organization stronger. High-profile project coming up? Ask for team leaders and other volunteers, and make sure they are all properly acknowledged. At the very least, survey your members to see what they like and what they’d want to change. Member-led initiatives have resulted in some of our most successful campaigns, including Cash Mobs, Top Local Chef competition, $8,000 wedding package giveaway, marketing webinar series, video blasts and new blogs on our website.
Reward active members. Consider giving points (redeemable for prizes, of course) for attending events, helping promote seminars, taking the time to help a fellow members. Highlight the most active members in your e-newsletters or social media posts. Depending on your budget, consider a big-ticket item for the Member of the Year (or quarter/month/etc.)
What are your ideas for keeping members active and engaged? We’d love your input!
Ester Venouziou is founder of LocalShops1.com, Tampa Bay’s most active advocate for locally owned, independent businesses. The grassroots movement was founded in 2008 and, in addition to advocacy, offers networking meetings, co-op advertising, store promotions, educational workshops and community events. Memberships are available for shoppers and businesses.