A successful association is built on an active community of interested members. So, it goes without saying that effective communication is critical. Publications need to be read by members and emails must be opened otherwise the association fails to engage its members.
A key objective of the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) is to provide its 10,000-plus members with practical information and advice to support their professional development. The more the members know, the better the outcomes for their own customers.
However, sometimes the medium can get in the way of the message.
The MFAA was sending out three enewsletters a week, but members were either too time-poor or uninspired to open them. Overhauling the association’s communication strategy became a priority.
Broadly speaking, the goal was to improve content for members, and then help them develop the skills to use that content to educate and engage their own customers.
Some of the details of the strategy are instructive to show that success can come from relatively simple measures. Importantly though, the initiatives were underpinned by a considered plan.
The cross-platform solution
To boost member click rates, the MFAA revamped enews templates, adding better headlines and more links for easier access. Delivery was reduced to once every two weeks, and the marketing team improved its news gathering to ensure members no longer received several versions of the same story.
It then introduced MFAA On Air – a fortnightly three-minute video that’s been "such a massive success" it will probably go weekly, says MFAA’s Head of Marketing and Communications Stephen Hale.
There’s also been a concerted effort to encourage members to communicate with each other via online tools like LinkedIn.
"That’s been very popular for B2B posts," says Hale. "Around a third of our members now use it, which we’re told is very high for an association."
On the house
Another significant element of MFAA’s strategy is to offer members a complimentary marketing service to help them repurpose MFAA content or create new content for their own websites and customer newsletters.
"If we can’t tweak it or make it better, we’ll get in a provider who meets their budget," says Hale. "That lifts a burden from them, because professionalism isn’t just about education."
It’s too early to have hard data on the strategy, launched in April, but Hale says the results are encouraging. Email click rates are up, along with LinkedIn conversations and the PR participation rate.
"A few years ago, if we’d asked 10,000 members to participate in a PR story, we would have been very largely ignored. But since we started giving them the support and training they need to write better content there’s been a 50 per cent increase," says Hale.
"It sounds almost too simple, but most marketers are so busy looking for the big ideas, they don’t get the small things right. And that’s what it’s about."
In other words...
- Listen to your stakeholders. If they’re not getting your message, find a better way to reach them./li>
- Provide incentives. Provide information that's easy to digest and share.
- Take a load off. Offer support and training so they can focus on their corestrengths.
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