Do They Know What You Offer?

I recently received an email from a past client (and current colleague!) of mine, asking me if I could help her and her organization with some data management issues they are having. She outlined her needs and ended the email by asking, “Are these even services that you offer?”

I was pleased to hear from her and glad she asked, but was very dismayed that she had to ask this question. After all, she’s twice been a client of mine, and I’ve known her professionally for over a decade. Yet somehow, in all that time, I had never clearly communicated to her the kinds of services I provide.

Which made me wonder: How many of you, as association executives, simply assume that your members know, and understand, about all the services your organization offers (whether free of for-fee)? And more to the point, what should you be doing to make sure your members and customers know? Here are three suggestions:

  1. Talk about what you do. Incessantly. But make sure you do it in such a way that you’re providing value. So for associations, this means telling success stories about how you’ve helped your members accomplish something, save money, have a positive impact on lives, and so on. You should be telling these stories in your newsletters, your magazines, your website, from the dais at your annual meeting, and anywhere else it makes sense to tell these kinds of stories.
  2. Get your members to talk about you. And how do you do this? By asking them to talk about you. Ask for testimonials. Print them in your membership propaganda. But make sure there are success stories on your website, in both print and video format. Set up a simple video booth at your meetings and have your members talk about how the association has helped them, in big or small ways.
  3. Get the press talking about you. No matter what industry or profession you serve, there are multiple media outlets (e.g., magazines, newsletters, blogs) covering your area. Do you have relationships with these folks? The kinds of relationships where you can call them up and say “I’ve got a story I’m working on that I think your readers would like to hear.”? Editors are always looking for valuable content. You’ve got it; are you giving it to them?

My consulting mentor, Alan Weiss, frequently says “If you don’t blow your own horn, there is no music.” What are you doing about making your own music?


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