Jill is a sole proprietor. Every business expense directly reduces her take-home pay. Jill thinks about business purchases very carefully.
Some industry friends of Jill’s encouraged her to join their professional association. When Jill looked into it, she liked the monthly meeting topics. Her friends said it was of value to them but, between the national dues, state dues, and meeting fees the financial outlay would be about $1,000. For Jill, this was a lot of money, especially since some weeks she doesn’t even make $1,000.
Finally, she decides to try a one-year experiment and join. Jill bravely fills out the online membership application, clicks join, and mentally hears the money flow out of her bank account.
Jill allocated an hour out of her crazy busy schedule to join and get to know the association, but her login credentials never come. In fact, she doesn’t get an email from the association that day, or the next, or even the next day.
Five days later Jill receives a nice welcome email with her login credentials, but by that point, she is so busy she cannot take the time to explore the association’s website. One-month later Jill receives a second email from the association; this one is a promotion for the upcoming annual conference which is an additional $850 fee for members plus travel expenses which Jill calculates to be roughly another $1,000. She won’t be attending that.
During the next few months, Jill receives precisely three more emails all promotions to go to events. Her interest in the association has dulled, and because of the busyness of her schedule, Jill does not end up attending one. Nine months into Jill’s membership a seeming flood of renew notices arrive in Jill’s inbox and each one makes her mad. She committed all that money and never found any value in the association.
She never found any value because the association was too passive about engaging her. When she was most interested in learning about the association, she was prevented from diving in. Early in her membership, there was almost no outreach from the association and the second email she received asked for even more money. Even if your members do not pay for their membership themselves, research says, they are annoyed by asks for more money early on.
If you see many new members join and then ignore the association the association’s new member communications might be too passive. Consider adding a new member onboarding program or revising your existing program. Here is a how-to engage new members guide backed by extensive research (this research was co-conducted by my firm, Kaiser Insights LLC, and Dynamic Benchmarking).