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Success Vector – The ONE indicator of Member Success-driven Growth

Investing in Member Success-driven Growth is an efficient way to drive revenue and organization valuation, and a metric is needed to measure that growth. That metric is the Success Vector.

We’ve mentioned previously that the NPS (Net Promoter Score) is the ONE metric that can facilitate quickly and efficiently the overall health of your member’s satisfaction with their relationship with your organization, but it can be seen as a moment-in-time snapshot; an ever-changing indicator.

Something else is needed to “pair” with that, something more forward-looking – more of a Key Success Indicator – KSI – than a simple performance indicator (KPI).

In looking at Member Success as the growth engine it is, we need a KSI that we can use to ensure we’re on track to meet the growth potential that Member Success will unlock within our existing member base.

The Key to Real Predictable Revenue

Every organization wants predictable revenue, but most turn to new business sales to get it. They create a goal they want to hit – essentially a made-up number the CEO or Board wants to see – and then they try to figure out how to hit that number.

The “predictable” part of all of this comes down to ensuring your pipeline is loaded with (at least) 5x more leads than your target goal so you can hit it with a 20% close rate.

While that may be “predictable” in a spreadsheet, in reality, hitting that goal requires a lot of work, coordination, effort, hustle, incentives, and – quite frankly – right-place-at-the-right-time timing. Yet, historically, this is where organizations look for new revenue by default.

That’s changing as organizations realize it doesn’t get more predictable than being able to look at your existing members, say these 100 members will reach this Success Milestone in the next month, that milestone has a logical upsell associated with it, the value of that upsell is $1000/ARR, and the percentage of members that should take the upsell based on their Success Vector is 90%.

That means, for that particular upsell, you’ll add $90k/ARR next month. Then, by combining the expansion value of all of the milestone upsells, you can give an accurate prediction of the revenue you’ll generate from your existing members.

That’s actual, real predictable revenue.

Historically, Member Health Score was a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for Member Success, but it doesn’t give you what you need in this new world of Member Success-driven Growth.

Success Vector gives you a real way to see not just what’s happening with our members today, but where do you think they’re going in the future.

Vector is defined, according to a quick Google search, as “a quantity having direction as well as magnitude, especially as determining the position of one point in space relative to another”. That’s exactly what we’re looking for.

 

Direction + Magnitude. It All Starts with the Member

One of the biggest mistakes I see in Member Success is when the CEO of an organization hires or appoints a Member Success Manager (MSM), declaring the organization is now member-centric and then telling the MSM to “figure it out” without giving budget or resources. Though sometimes, if any resources are given, it’s to buy software.

People are a huge part of  Member Success Management. If we want our members to grow with us over 3, 5, or even 10 years, ensuring the member is engaged and continues to achieve their evolving Desired Outcome is critical. In fact, it’s why your organization actually exists in their world. It takes people, not software to do that.

Before you can Orchestrate, Operationalize,  Instrument, and Intervene – or develop a Success Vector – you need to be clear about the Desired Outcome for each of your discrete member segments.

Now, let’s get back to Success Vector:

Key Success Vector Inputs

The inputs that are 100% required for Success Vector to be meaningful are:

  1. Success Potential
  2. Success Milestones
  3. Joint Accountabilities

Success Potential

If your member doesn’t have Success Potential, that’s something you need to address (by actively segmenting them from those bad-fit members).

When it comes to Success Potential, there are several things we need to look at:

  • Technical Fit – Do they have, or can they acquire a key piece of technology to reach the Desired Outcome they are seeking?
  • Functional Fit – Does your product or resource have a key piece of functionality for them?
  • Resource Fit – Can they invest – beyond simply paying your dues fee – in what’s required to be successful as our member?
  • Competence Fit – Do they have – or will they acquire – the expertise internally required to be successful?
  • Experience Fit – Do they have – or will they acquire, source, or train resources that have or can have the necessary experience to be successful with your product?
  • Cultural Fit – They have beliefs, morals, attitudes, etc. that you know will align with the way you work.

If you can’t check all of the Success Potential boxes, then you can be absolutely sure that those members are not going to achieve their Desired Outcome – both their Required Outcome and the Appropriate Experience – so you’re setting everyone up for failure if you keep them around. They are what we call a bad fit. Do not consider this lightly – these types of members are better off – for you and them – not being members, rather than suffering the financial, emotional, and resource drain they will place on your organization.

Success Milestones & Joint Accountabilities

The biggest problem with Member Health Scores is they rarely include whether or not the member is actually doing the things necessary – inside the use of the product or resource and beyond – that would indicate they’re on the right path toward achieving their Desired Outcome.

For Success Vector, knowing where the member is on their path toward success – including whether they’re holding up their end of the bargain on the joint accountabilities you’ve agreed to – is the main input.

In fact, if you don’t pull in any other contextual data and only looked at Success Milestones and Joint Accountabilities, you’d be better off than most organizations that pull together complex Member Health Scores.

When the member does have Success Potential, but they aren’t doing what needs to be done to achieve success, that’s a problem and we need to intervene.

If those things aren’t included in the Success Vector, then what purpose does it really serve? It’s like creating a Member Success strategy without starting with the member (which, sadly, is pretty common still).

When it comes to predictable revenue, this is where there is really good news.

Some Success Milestones will have a logical upsell or advocacy opportunity associated with them. Based on which Success Milestone our members will hit in the next month – and your confidence in both hitting that mark and taking the upsell or advocacy opportunity associated with the milestone – you should be able to accurately predict the revenue expansion from your existing member base.

Additional Success Vector Inputs

Organizations with more robust Success Vectors also have inputs like:

  • Ascension Velocity – Are they taking upsells when they’re logical?
  • Meaningful Product Activity – Also known as product usage data. It has to be meaningful activity, though.
  • Adoption – Did they meet initial adoption goals? Are they meeting ongoing adoption goals?
  • Advocacy – Are they advocating for your organization in appropriate ways where logical?
  • Usability Issues – Are there problems or missing features keeping them from achieving success; missing features would indicate a lack of Success Potential and should be noted as such
  • Member Organization (Account) – Are negative things happening with their organization? External triggers, bills not being paid, M&A, etc.
  • Support – Support tickets aren’t bad unless they’re not being closed in a positive way quickly; also if support tickets slow or stop.
  • Satisfaction & Confidence – NPS

 

Success Vector Status Definitions

The Success Vector of a member will change from time to time, but you ultimately want all of your members on a Positive Success Vector. Stagnant members on a Neutral Success Vector simply renewing at the same level is no longer considered good enough.

The new measure of success is members that are engaging, evolving, and expanding.

Positive Success Vector

  • They’re on the right track – they aren’t just static, but are expanding or on-track to do so

Neutral Success Vector

  • Stalled or Stagnated
  • Does not fit with the new measure of success
  • Member needs to be gotten back on track to achieving their Desired Outcome and on a logical Ascension Path

Negative Success Vector

  • They’re not on the right track and intervention is needed

Ghosts

  • Your key contact at the member has stopped engaging or responding – This member is about to non-renew

Situational Awareness and Member Triage

If you’re just starting out integrating the Member Success operating philosophy into your organization, there’s a really good chance you’ll have some members that have gone dark. For the members that are a good fit and should be saved, you need to go into an intervention procedure with them which will require issue resolution through cooperation of both parties. However, know that just getting them back is not Member Success.  It will take extra work to get them on a Positive Success Vector.

To pull them from darkness back into the light or otherwise save them from churning has nothing to do with actually helping them achieve their Desired Outcome. They’ve given you another chance, but they should be considered to still be on a Negative Success Vector.

Member Success would have been ensuring they didn’t get to this point, to begin with!

You now have to work to take that member, plus any other member that’s on a Negative Success Vector and move them to Neutral and then Positive.

At first, you’ll have members in each category, but eventually, as you Orchestrate and Operationalize your Member Success Management processes, you’ll get to a point where you only have Neutral and Positive Success Vector members.

 

“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 www.associationprojectmanagement.com

Who’s your Ideal Member?

Memberships Matter – Make the most of Your Membership Program.

Over the last many months, APM® has helped many organizations from around the country rapidly accelerate member acquisition and reduce member churn rates.

And in just about every instance We’ve found ourselves asking them the same questions.

The fact that these questions were not easily answered or – if they were – that the answers were ignored, often shed light on the underlying cause of several different problems our association and organization clients faced.

From stagnating growth to unacceptable churn, it became clear to us that most similar organizations have a problem.

And this problem isn’t a small one nor is it to be ignored.

To the contrary, it is resulting in executives – just like you – going back to their Leadership and Board with less-than-stellar results, and for Members, clients and CEOs of these organizations who know they have the best products and resources out there constantly struggling to survive healthily for the lack of new members or the challenge of super-high churn rates.

And for the Membership and Marketing teams who have implemented fantastic member marketing campaigns that are consistent and focused but not resulting in statistically significant member or client lift, the crisis is mounting.

What is going on here?!

Simple… you’re attracting the wrong audience and here’s why.

Attracting Your Ideal Member Is not an Accomplished by Accident

We know that attracting the right members is critical to growing your organization, and this includes reducing your churn rate.

The reality is, you’re not attracting your Ideal Members, at least in the numbers you’d like, because you either haven’t identified your Ideal Members or you have but choose to ignore that fact and continue trying to be all things to everyone so you “don’t miss any opportunities.”

But you also know that’s wrong and goes against everything we know to be true in marketing, correct?

So, to ensure that you’re attracting the right members, take some time with your team and answer these questions.

  1. Who’s your ideal member?
  2. Would they know they’re your ideal member if they looked at your marketing site?
  3. Of your current member base, what percentage does your ideal member represent?

Question #3 is a super-interesting metric that few associations actually monitor (but should).

In fact, when we go through this exercise with an association that is struggling to achieve the results they’re looking for, the answer is generally less than 10%, indicating that 90% of their member base is made up of members outside the “ideal” spectrum.

Look… when you don’t know who your ideal member is, you can’t talk to them using their language.

Whether on your marketing site, your ad campaigns, inside your app, through your email follow-up, or even your membership conversations, if you don’t know who you’re talking to you’re in trouble.

When you don’t know who your ideal member is – or aren’t willing to focus on just them to, you know, avoid missing all those other opportunities – you can’t speak the language of that particular audience.

We can agree that HR Pros use different words than Chefs, who use different words than Attorneys and so on, right?

When you try to speak to everyone, you can’t use the words of just one segment of the membership types you are trying to attract. Instead, you have to drop to the lowest common denominator among every potential member and speak to them in their language, otherwise, you aren’t saying anything of value to anyone!

 

People don’t buy from you because they understand what you do… they buy from you because you understand what they do.

Because most SaaS companies don’t see themselves as “services” and instead hold on tightly to their technology pedigree, you often won’t stop at “lowest common denominator” language…

The mistake that many organizations make when courting potential clients or members is that they forget what they are about, what their mission is, their value proposition is -their “Why”, or the reason they exist.

Most membership pitches stop talking about the member at all and instead focus 100% on the organization’s products, features, technology and all the other stuff that doesn’t matter when they’re trying to connect with their potential members.

And as you move your ‘Business Development’ (which is what you’re doing by adding new members) to extend your marketing/sales funnel, knowing who you’re attracting will help you create an experience congruent with their Desired Outcome.

It’s fairly easy for us to spot when an association hasn’t identified (or chooses to ignore) their ideal member before we ever talk to them because their marketing is all about their product.

This means we’re not surprised when we talk to those same organizations and hear that their membership is stagnating, their churn is high, etc.

Just because you draw a line in the sand and actively try to resonate with your ideal members, doesn’t mean you won’t get members from outside that ideal spectrum… it just means you’ll definitely get members within that spectrum – predictably – which is probably different than what you’re experiencing now.

 

“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 www.associationprojectmanagement.com

Instrumentation and Operationalization – The 8 Elements of Member Success Management

Elements 1 – 6 ( Segmentation, Orchestration, Measurement, Intervention, Expansion, and Communication) really don’t require much technology or engineering work. Certainly, everything we’ve mentioned can be greatly enhanced by leveraging technology, but it really doesn’t require it.

But the final two elements of Member Success are where we start bringing technology into the mix.

Far too many companies jump to buying a purpose-built Member Success Management software product assuming it’ll fix any problems they have, give them the structure they need, etc.

But just like any other part of your business, if you select a piece of software without knowing what it is you’re trying to operationalize, you’ll end up building your strategy around the capabilities of that software.

Figure out what you need first, then find the solution that you think fits that model. Sure, you may not be 100% right out of the gate, but you’ll be a lot closer to where you need to be if you work in that direction.

Instrumentation is the process of collecting data on the member’s interactions with your company, across their lifecycles.

From gathering usage data from your product to interaction records with the client, to
Integration with other systems, Instrumentation is a critical step in leveraging technology to guide your members along the path toward success.

Context is everything when it comes to Member Success Management, so the more visibility you have into whether your member is moving toward their Desired Outcome, the higher the value your intervention will be.

What you collect all of this data in – Excel, a Business Intelligence tool – like Microsoft Azure, a purpose-built Member Success Management product, is something you’ll need to figure out.

And the last element on this list will help you figure out what that should be.

Operationalization is what takes Member Success Management in your company from a lovely thought experiment and turns it into the Growth Machine that it can be.

Operationalization is simply the process of taking the data from Instrumentation and acting on it. Whether the system acts on it without human interaction or the system notifies a human within your organization to take a certain action should depend on the Appropriate Experience of the member.

That’s why it’s so critical to have a clear idea of what the Appropriate Experience is for your various member segments. If you try to operationalize across a normalized view of all members, you’ll likely create a mix of technology and humans that is inappropriate for most of your members.

Best case, you’ll over-deliver to members that don’t need such high-touch and lower your profit margins. Worst case, you’ll provide an experience that is so incongruent with that the members actually need, you’ll drive them away. The latter is really bad, but don’t assume the former is okay; one of the biggest barriers to scaling that we’ve experienced with clients is when companies over-deliver for their members; don’t over-deliver, or just deliver an experience that is appropriate.

Member Success Management is not a technology-centric initiative; it requires you to understand what Member Success is, how Member Success Management is the orchestration of Member Success, and what all of that means in the context of your members.

From there, you can – and probably should – leverage technology to enable you to perform Member Success Management activities in a predictable, operationalized manner, which is absolutely required at scale. After that, the technology decisions will be easier as those that fit into your well-defined Member Success Management needs will be few.

Most organizations already have a Member Success Management software product that either works well for them or doesn’t. Member Success Management software was originally designed to help businesses build and maintain relationships with new and existing customers. Since then, Member Success Management software has evolved from a simple contact management system into a robust tool that helps users manage sales, marketing, point-of-sale (POS) transactions, accounting, vendors and other types of operational data all in one easily accessible solution.

From a growth standpoint, Member Success Management helps you find leads, follow up with prospects and nurture them through the sales pipeline. Member Success Management is also used to maintain customer loyalty by storing key information to boost sales – for instance, by personalizing the experience and providing excellent customer support.

Here is our 2020 guide on how to choose the right Member Success Management software for your business. If you already know what you need and just want to see our recommendations for the best Member Success Management software, visit Business News Daily’s best picks page.

Here at APM, we’ve fallen in LOVE with HubSpot. HubSpot offers businesses an easy entry into the world of MSM solutions. The free version of HubSpot may offer enough functionality to improve processes and organization at zero cost. It offers users a wealth of training resources in its online library, including learning guides, invoice template generators, email signature generators, and marketing plan template generators. Motivated users have a great DIY buffet of options – without the need to spend money on development and training.

Of all the companies we reviewed, HubSpot has the best free option. This is ideal for very small businesses or other companies that have limited experience using MSM systems. Further, HubSpot has one of the most extensive online training libraries to pull from.

 

How much does Member Success Management software cost?

The cost of Member Success Management software varies greatly. Vendors typically use a subscription-based pricing model. Pricing depends on several factors, such as the number of users and the types of features available.

Generally, you pay a set per-user, per-month fee. Some vendors charge a flat monthly fee for a set number of users, but you may find that in order to support the number of users you need (and the features you want), you need to buy a more expensive plan, or there can be additional fees for things like additional users. Pricing can range from $10 per user, per month to thousands of dollars per month, depending on your business’s needs.

Don’t have a budget for Member Success Management software? Or maybe you’re not sure that Member Success Management software is right for your business, but you’re curious to see what it has to offer. Many vendors offer free trials of their software. There are also free versions of popular Member Success Management software; some are full-featured but limit the number of users or records, while others offer only the bare minimum capabilities.

What features should you look for in Member Success Management software?

Member Success Management doesn’t just keep your contacts organized – it offers a bevy of tools to help you boost sales and execute more effective marketing campaigns. Here’s more about the features Member Success Management software offers small businesses.

Lead management and sales. Find new customers by automatically generating leads from various sources like social media, website visitors, inbound calls, newsletter sign-ups and more. Follow up with leads automatically with preset emails and tasks or contact them directly yourself. Member Success Management can nurture prospects all the way through the sales pipeline, from lead generation to closing the sale. Additionally, many Member Success Management allows users to create and store sales quotes and track invoices.

Marketing. Many Member Success Management solutions have built-in marketing tools, including email templates, email marketing pipelines, SMS messaging and lightweight project management tools. Some even offer competition tracking and sales forecasting capabilities.

E-commerce. Some high-level Member Success Management software has built-in e-commerce functionality, while other products allow for easy e-commerce integration, either by accessing the API or by using a third-party service.

Reports/dashboards. Most Member Success Management software includes some reporting functionality, and many of the higher-end products sport live dynamic dashboards. Make sure any exporting or importing needs you have (for instance, transferring information to and from Excel or QuickBooks) are compatible with a system you choose.

Call center. Most low-cost Member Success Management products do not have call center capabilities, but there are third-party integrations available to link call center software with Member Success Management software. However, if a call center is central to your business, it may be worthwhile to adopt a Member Success Management with full call center features. (See Related Story: Best Call Centers and Answering Services for Businesses)

Workflows/approvals. Project management is an important aspect of any Member Success Management. Most high-quality Member Success Management systems have built-in workflows and checkmark-style approvals that help with task management and organization. However, the extent to which these project management tools are customizable varies from product to product, so if you require a specific workflow step or approval process, make sure it is achievable with the application you choose.

Questions to ask when considering Member Success Management software

There are many different types of Member Success Management software available, so choosing the right one is key to making it work for your business. Here’s what small business owners advise asking potential vendors:

  • Is it built for small businesses?
  • What is the implementation process like and how much technical assistance is included?
  • How easy is it to use? Can I easily train employees?
  • Are there any user minimums?
  • How easy is it to integrate with other solutions I already use?
  • What is the total cost of the software? Is there any setup or additional fees? What if I need to add more users or integrations?
  • Is the API accessible?
  • What type of security features are built into the application?

 

Organizations use Member Success Management solutions for a variety of reasons. Initially, though, the Member Success Management industry was geared primarily toward sales and PR professionals, offering a convenient way to store information and track communication with customers. Today, Member Success Management solutions straddle several areas of business customer relationship management, marketing, analytics, communication, and even lightweight project management. Some Member Success Management systems even have built-in chatbot and calling capabilities, so reps can communicate with clients directly from the system.

Even small businesses can afford powerful Member Success Management software, thanks in large part to the proliferation of affordable SaaS solutions, which deliver a lot of functionality without the fuss (or headaches) that come with a major software implementation project. Tiered pricing structures and lots of competition mean organizations have their pick of easy-to-use MSMs that optimize the customer relationship management process.

“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 www.associationprojectmanagement.com

Communication – The 8 Elements of Member Success Management

Memberships Matter – Make the most of Your Membership Program.

Communication

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 www.associationprojectmanagement.com

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