“Mulder…where is the truth?”
A little X-Files reference for all you sci-fi fans out there. In a recent post I shared some thoughts on the annual Black Friday ritual that leads many into both panic buying and shopping nirvana, sometimes at the same time. I shared ideas garnered from the Black Friday experience on how associations can use scarcity and exclusivity to make their organizations remarkable and contagious to member and prospects.
While I was putting those ideas together there was a subtext that came into play that really competed for attention – I was distracted by the unbelievable barrage of messages/advertisement we are all exposed to, not only during the holiday season, but also on a daily basis. Not just ads and commercials, but also by the push technology innocently blasting us by invitation. All of those tech devices we covet so dearly make it all that much easier to market to us either by interruption or by permission, on a virtual unlimited range of subjects.
There is so much noise out there that it is really getting difficult to hear and understand the important stuff. With the never-ending bombardment of information cleverly (at times) disguised as important, need to know info, the question comes to mind, just where is the truth?
Just focusing on the use of the major search engines we can see how daunting the avalanche of information can be at times. According a study by Neilson Company, 92 percent of all computer users use search engines. How many people? When looking at the big three (Google, Yahoo and Bing) there are a total of over 399 million unique visitors each month, spending an average of almost 2 hours each on search engines. Google alone averages one billion search queries per day.
And what about the information we find? Any search you do often turns up pages and pages of results ranked by both relevance and importance. There are literally hundreds of factors that are used to determine these rankings. Are they accurate enough? How often have you done a search and your results are you get back are dated from four, five or 10 years ago. How relevant and useful is that information to you today?
I was recently visiting my mom in the hospital, and during a break I was able to chat with one of her nurses. Tamara has only been out of nursing school for a very short while and was working in her first full time gig as a nurse. Being in the association world I was naturally curious about her relationship with her state nursing association, or if she was even a member.
And while Tamara acknowledged she was a dues paying member, she really hadn’t spent much time getting to know her association and what they are doing on her behalf. Why? The demands on Tamara’s time are enormous – working three 12 hour shifts per week at a Long Term Acute Care hospital, and then working as an in home nurse the remainder of the week to help make ends meet.
I asked her about her knowledge of continuing education opportunities available to her. Tamara commented that she is constantly bombarded with offers via email and snail mail to sign up and attend seminars, webinars and formal training courses. I asked her if any of those offers came from her association. She couldn’t remember. There were too many to go through and not enough time in her life to get it done. Noise…too much noise, to determine what is valuable and what is not.
What Tamara needs is a filter to help her with all of the career information being sent her way or being accessed by her. But filters can be dangerous, because they can omit really important information you need access to. That filter needs to be a trusted resource, someone who has a vested interest in Tamara’s career – like her association.
Associations today need to take on a more active role as the curators or aggregators of information for their profession or industry. With the information overload available to anyone at the touch of a keystroke, having a trusted resource they can turn to for timely, relevant information can help any association connect with both members and prospects and create a deeper engagement.
By providing high value content you can position your organization as THE career resource for your members and industry. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to produce all of the content, but rather provide access to it through links, etc. Taking a page from the retail world, become their personal shopper and provide them with the relevant information they seek in order to help them advance their careers.
And speaking of careers, this concept extends beyond just providing information through articles, blogs, etc. Employment opportunities play an important role, as well. Associations can help employers find the most qualified talent to fill their open positions, while providing members (and prospects) with access to the top employers within their industry or profession. In my next post I will dig deeper into your association’s role in the area of jobs, and how it can drive significant non-dues revenue your way. Stay tuned.
There is no doubt in the highly competitive economy we live in today that the members of your association need every advantage the can get to stay active in the game. Being that filter, that trusted resource, can go along way to help elevate your brand and build member loyalty. The truth is out there. Can you help them find it?