Imagine that you decide to join an association today. You fill out the application and press “JOIN.” Nearly immediately, you hear the familiar email ding, click into the email app, and find a message from the association. Eager to learn more, you click the email open. “Welcome!” it says. “Thank you for joining. For 75 years, we have been providing 28,500 members like you a remarkably long list of benefits. You are now entitled to over 22,000 articles on our website, the member rate for our two annual conferences, access to our online community, five annual research studies (at the member rate of course)….” And the bulleted list goes on and on below the fold. You can tell by the long list of links that this email will take more time than you have right now. You close it hoping to get back to it when you have more time.
As the day goes on, you get three more emails that are similar. “Here are 46 articles we have carefully curated for you,” and “did you know we have an online learning library with over 100 courses?” they say. You start a file folder to save all of these emails. You hope to get back to them when you have more time.
The next day a few more emails arrive. You don’t have time to open them, so you file them right away. The day after that, a few more emails arrive. By the end of the week, the folder is full of messages. You know you will never have time to read them all, so you mentally decide that when you have time, you will carve out an hour to peruse the association’s website to see how it can help you.
By the end of the month, you still have not found that hour of free time. Now when emails from the association arrive, you delete them immediately. When you joined, you thought it would be easier to jump in with both feet. You are getting a little irritated that you may have made the wrong choice by joining this organization.
The above story is a common experience for many new members. In a recent virtual conference, Reggie Henry, Chief Information and Engagement Officer at ASAE, recounted a conversation, where a member explained that it seemed like the association backed their dump truck up to them and unloaded. I have been calling this phenomenon the Dump Truck Effect.
Is your association inflicting The Dump Truck Effect on new members?
A large volume of emails doesn’t necessarily indicate that The Dump Truck Effect is taking place. Instead, it is the nature of those emails. Long letters, extensive lists, and requests for more money tend to make new members feel dumped on. While emails containing quick solutions to the problems they are struggling with right now, do a much better job of onboarding.
With each launch of the New Member Engagement Study, we learn more about the best in class onboarding methods being used in the association industry. We also learn more about activities to steer clear of, like the Dump Truck Effect.