This morning I got a personalized email telling me how much the email’s author loved one of my posts. They cited the post, provided a link to the post, and explained how my post related to their business. The email’s author is a blogger for a popular fishing company. The email was spam disguised as a personal connection. I get one of these emails a day.
Local advertisers put brochures in my mailbox with offers that are too good to be true — more spam.
Are you looking for some information on the internet? Websites and blogs are littered with junky ads which are mostly spam.
Little signs pop up at all the intersections promising to buy houses in any condition or jobs where you can work from home for $20 an hour. Spam and litter.
My phone rings at least five times a day displaying numbers I don’t know from cities I have never been to, or more insidiously from cities surrounding mine. These calls are spam, and if I answered scams.
Every once in a while, I get a voicemail claiming to be from the IRS, or my credit card company, or a bank. That’s not spam; it’s a scam.
Amazon is now clogged with junk. Cheap stuff at low prices that are not at all like their descriptions or pictures. All this off-brand stuff is a scam too.
We are back in the wild west fending off snake oil salesmen, and the snake oil salesmen have access to our data. They know our names, our emails, our phone numbers, and where we shop. They work hard to make their messages seem legitimate. Because the spammers and scammers are getting better at what they do, we are always on high alert and trust is low.
This gap in trust creates an opportunity for associations. Many associations have competitors who engage in spam or even scam-like practices. We may see websites that deliver erroneous content because advertising is the priority, organizations that use low prices to attract customers but provide poorly crafted resources, and predatory conferences. Members don’t want to be scammed. They want to engage with organizations they can trust. Professionals can trust associations, and sometimes we just need to remind members and potential members that we are the trusted source for the profession or industry.
When it come to trust, I favor showing members rather than telling members. When we say “the largest association in the industry for 75 years,”, they hear, “blah, blah, blah.” Focus instead, on showing members that the organization is trustworthy. Develop a clean, friendly, reliable look, and use it consistently. Refrain from too much advertising. Showcase valuable, well thought out, content. Stay knowledgable about the latest industry trends. Refrain from too much upselling. Consider personalization carefully, will members feel tricked if they find out that the email or letter was a mass mailing? Evaluate your membership pricing; what does it signal?
If you have a competitor, who is offering low prices and poor value, double down on exceptional value and higher prices, let these competitors run their race.