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Communication – The 8 Elements of Member Success Management

Memberships Matter – Make the most of Your Membership Program.


It’s obvious that a major part of Member Success Management is to communicate with the member (including users, Brand champions or evangelists, Raving Fans®, and other personas).

Perhaps it’s proactively guiding the users to take the next logical step, giving the champion a status update, or scheduling the next Quarterly Business Review (QBR: if you do those, and maybe you should as a part of your member messaging framework) with the executives or other appropriate personas.

Or maybe it’s intervention with the member – there are several forms of this. There is Passive Intervention – this is support when the member reaches out to the organization or the Member Success team for help with a particular resource, Proactive Intervention – this is identifying and correcting issues before the member has felt any impact from them – before they contact support, Reactive Intervention when the member hasn’t taken the action necessary to reach their next Success Milestone, and Predictive Intervention – this works on the basis that your team can predict where your member is going to run into a problem. This is only possible when you have a system in place that will recognize member behavior with your various resources; it is complex and data-driven, and it takes a lot of insight into client behavior before it works, but it is possible to use this type of communication effectively.

These are the rather obvious times when member communication is critical; but one type of communication with the member that’s not so obvious is Member Marketing, of which there are two types:

Marketing to your existing members to drive adoption and increase the breadth and depth of use (my friend Mo Bunnell refers to this as ‘land and expand’), including upsells, add-ons, etc.

Using your members in your marketing (case studies, testimonials, etc.)… combine 1 & 2 for a Member Marketing power play!

Member Marketing should be the responsibility of – or heavily influenced by – Member Success Management. The former is ideal, but in organizations that also have a communications manager or director, these two should work together for these marketing initiatives.

There is a fourth type of communication that Member Success Management is responsible for and that is Internal Communication.

It is critical that the Member Success Management organization communicate what they’re learning from members, how they’re impacting members, and the value they’re bringing to the organization by getting members to stay longer, buy more, bring our organization into other parts of their company, and advocate for our organization externally.

Not only does that internal communication enrich the rest of the organization staff with member intelligence, but it also lets the rest of the organization know just how valuable Member Success Management really is. You’re Welcome.

Now to quickly recap the four types of Communication:

  • Proactive Guidance
  • Member Intervention
  • Member Marketing
  • Internal Communication

Member Engagement

Let’s talk about Member Engagement, specifically one part of the Communication Model, which is APM’s BEAST Message Framework for creating messages that actually engage members.

It’s really interesting that we communicate all day long – with our friends, with our peers, with our members – but when was the last time you actually thought about what goes into communication?

Most of the time, we simply never stop to consider what needs to go into communication… we just do it.

If we do spend any time at all thinking about communication, we only focus on the message itself. But it’s truly imperative that we spend time thinking about all of the components of the communications we send.

Whenever we try to send an email, have a call with a member, set up a meeting with a member, etc., we need to be thinking about communication and what goes into it.

Quick Communication Model Overview

Briefly, the communication model is made up of six different pieces: Goal, Receiver, Method, Sender, Action, and Message.

Goal. Why are you communicating?

Receiver. The member or entity who’s actually getting the communication – the message – from you. This is the person you’re setting up a meeting with or actually having a meeting with or that individual you’re going to have a phone call with.

Method. This refers to how you’re communicating. Is it in a meeting? Is it through an email? Is it a phone call or an in-app message?

Sender. The source of the message – who’s actually sending the message, setting up or hosting the meeting, etc.

Action. This is most commonly referred to as a Call to Action, the action is what you want them to do because of the communication. So, you have a goal, but then you also have a specific action you actually want them to take.

Message. The contents of the email, the content of the pop-up in the app, the actual content of the meeting or even the meeting request, what you’re going to talk about on the phone call, etc.

Of the six different elements of the Communication Model, the one that we tend to think about the most is the message. We really honestly don’t think about those other things that much, but even then, when we think about the message, we don’t really think about it – at least not in the right way.

Introducing the BEAST Message Framework

We don’t know who came up with the acronym for this message model, but it’s appropriate given that communication with your members can be a beast of a thing to do and succeed at. The BEAST Message Framework is made up of five different elements: Brief, Efficient, Actionable, Simple, and Thoughtful.

BEAST Message Framework: Brief

Be brief.

Something we have a hard time with is being brief. But you do want to make sure that your message is short and to the point.

That’s all relative, of course. The message doesn’t have to be one line, but you want to make sure that you’re being as brief as possible, which means we go back to what the communication framework is all about.

What’s your goal, and what’s the action that you want them to take? If you know those two things, it’s very simple to create a message that is brief.

However, if you don’t have a Goal, and you don’t know what the Action is that you want them to take, it’s very easy to go on rambling and/or just try to get them to do too many things.

Don’t have too many calls to action because then, instead of having one very simple thing that you’re trying to get them to do, there’s a whole bunch of different things, and they’re not going to do any of it.

How many times have you received an email or had a meeting with a whole bunch of takeaways but then nothing gets done? So don’t have too many calls to action. Keep it short and to the point.

BEAST Message Framework: Efficient

Be efficient.

Just because you can write a lot or just because you can talk for a whole hour doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing, right? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Be very careful in the way that you choose what you’re going to talk about. Choose your words carefully. Edit. Always go back and say is this all necessary? In fact, one thing you could do right now is to go audit your meetings – those you have scheduled, those that you have that are part of your checklist, and those like your Quarterly Business Reviews with members.

Look at the emails you’re sending and the calls you’re going to make. How many of these don’t have a goal or one clear call to action associated with them? Maybe they don’t even need to happen, right? So efficiency is also just asking does this need to even happen?

And if it does need to happen – if this message needs to be sent or if this meeting needs to happen – how can we make it as efficient as possible?

BEAST Message Framework: Actionable

Be actionable.

Have your call to action in mind and build everything around that. If you can’t do that because you don’t have a call to action, then why are you attempting to engage with the member? Having members read random, nonsensical emails from you is not engagement.

Member Engagement is all about getting the member to take action. Member Engagement is about moving them in the right direction. That’s it.

So if you don’t have an action that’s associated with what you’re trying to do here, why are you even messaging them? Why are you even having a meeting? Why are you even having a call? Why are you popping something up in front of them in their app?

If you don’t have a call to action for Receiver, and you don’t know what the goal of this communication is, why are you even doing it? If you do know, then you want to build everything around getting them to take that action. Be actionable.

BEAST Message Framework: Simple

Be simple.

Tell them exactly what to do. Don’t make them think. This is not about members being unable to comprehend your messages. Members are busy. They’re distracted. You may not be the center of their universe (we’d all like to think we are), it’s just about getting to the point.

Be simple.

Tell them exactly what you want them to do – what they need to do. Maybe justify it a little bit so they understand the reason why it’s happening. Get to the point and get them to take action.

This idea of being simple is very easy to follow if you do the first thing – be brief – which goes back to having a goal and understanding what the action is that you want them to take.

BEAST Message Framework: Thoughtful

Last, but certainly not least, be thoughtful.

This applies to communication, not only with your members but with your peers, with your family, with your friends.

Where do you fit into their world? Be honest about that.

When you’re asking them to do something, you might be asking them to do something inside of the resource they are working with, but is it really only that? Are there things outside the product, – outside of the scope of your engagement – that they need to do?

So think about that. Be thoughtful. Be thoughtful with your words. Be thoughtful about your requests. Be thoughtful with their time. Be thoughtful in general.

Hopefully, this system of thinking about your messaging and Communicating with your members will help you to better engage with them.

“Memberships are the most important asset in our industry today.  Are you making the most of your membership program? Is it growing your organization? Are you putting enough resources into growing your member base? Do you have a targeted plan for Recruiting, Engaging, and Retaining your members? We can help.” – Andrew McElhannon, CEO – Association Project Management, LLC®.

APM® helps member-based organizations & professional Trade Associations achieve Member Success, stabilize their member retention and guarantee membership growth through Prospect Development and Member Recruitment, as well as Member Engagement and Concierge Onboarding.

Organizations implement APM’s® programs to sustain their current revenue, reduce losses due to Churn (member non-renewal) and generate new revenue by creating Raving Fans® who evangelize new members that over time becomes automatic, organic growth. “Members begetting Members”.

Association Project Management, LLC® also provides a list of other project management and project completion services through a virtual staff member – a committed, trusted expert who helps to reduce costs, lower risks, improve efficiencies, meet deadlines, solve challenging problems, support strategic initiatives and produce better outcomes for your association staff. Visit them today at

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