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News & Views

News and views from the team at SMS. If you have anything you would like posted here please let us know.

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  • 26 Oct 2016 8:12 AM | Anonymous

    There is a distinct difference in the "tone" of communications between associations who are successfully engaging their members and those who are performing poorly. 


    Those doing poorly have a very transactional communications style. It is geared only to convey information in a bland and unengaging manner. Eg: Welcome to the association. Your membership number is #. Your password is #. 


    Those engaging well have a very warm, friendly and engaging communication style. Eg: Welcome to the association. We are looking forward to meeting you face to face and helping you to make the most of your membership. Speaking of which, there is an event coming up in your area next week. Would you like to come along so I can introduce you around to some of the other members? 


    When writing communications to members I picture a specific member in my head and then pretend I am writing the communication specifically to them. 


    I Also keep in mind is the outcome I am trying to achieve. Eg: If the purpose is to get the new member activating a portion of their membership, then my entire communication is geared to achieve that action. 


    What kind  of experience have you have with member communications?

  • 06 Jul 2016 7:59 PM | Anonymous

    This year has been a great one for association sponsorship seekers with some big deals coming through. There seems to be a real appetite from potential sponsors to engage in targeted partnerships designed to deliver specific outcomes for the sponsor, benefits for the member and a significant financial return for the association. Some of the deals coming through have included:


    • $150,000 revenue to a state based association from a financial services company.
    • $150,000 cash to state based association from a salary packaging company.
    • $100,000 cash to a national association from an electric vehicle provider.
    • $75,000 cash to a state based association from an international auditing company.
    • $45,000 to a national association from NASA.
    • $25,000 to a very small national association from educational group travel.
    • $25,000 to a very small national association from a technology company.
      

    The Australian election uncertainty, the UK BREXIT result and the ongoing American election dramas have had an impact. We are now seeing many corporates engaging in partnerships taking longer to make their decisions and often making the decision to move ahead at the last moment. Anecdotal feedback suggests this trend is as a direct result of the global uncertainty in the political sphere at the current time.

     

    Those who have been successful in securing sponsorship, whether large or small organisations, have had a few common success factors: 


    • Understanding the outcome the sponsor is seeking to achieve - A willingness to understand the sponsors needs and target a package appropriately (often just asking the question “What outcome do you want achieve with this partnership” can open up a very fruitful conversation),
    • An innovative approach - An innovative approach that avoids offering dull and generally worthless “opportunities” such as “we will put your logo on our website”.
    • An engaging person selling the sponsorship - An engaging, personable person selling the sponsorship who is genuinely interested in building a good relationship with the sponsor (rather than then just making the sale) and generating positive outcomes for all parties – members, the association, and the sponsor.
      

    Julian Moore, Australasia’s top not-for-profit sponsorship practitioner, specialises in charities, associations and other non-profits. He draws on his extensive experience in both Australia and Europe to deliver exceptional sponsorship outcomes for his clients. His work includes in-house coaching and training; Board briefings, keynote speaking and ad hoc consultancy. Julian is an accomplished and entertaining speaker who presents regularly at events. Whether through his presentations or consultancy, Julian focuses on providing practical and useful ideas that can be implemented immediately to start benefiting your organisation.

  • 06 Jul 2016 7:55 PM | Anonymous

    The most successful membership organisations are those who clearly demonstrate their passion for their cause, industry, profession, and/or trade in both word and action. They are committed to their purpose and work hard to provide tangible benefits and positive outcomes to the members they serve. Over the next couple of months, I will be showcasing the member engagement strategies used by different types of member-based organisations including - Unions, Industry Bodies, Professional Associations and Charities.


    This month we start our series with a look at the Electrical Trades Union Victoria’s highly successful member engagement strategy …


    Electrical Trades Union Victoria


    The Electrical Trades Union Victoria, led by State Secretary Troy Gray, are unusual because they have experienced a consistently high retention (mid-high 90s) for well over 10 years and have over 94% penetration into their core member segment at a time where many other unions are suffering from declining participation rates.


    While there are undoubtedly a number of reasons for this, a significant factor would be the high level of personal engagement they have with their members. The degrees to which they become personally involved in their member’s lives is something rarely seen in professional and industry associations. A member of the union is seen as part of the family and the support of the union goes well beyond the industrial action they are most well-known for in the public forum. Some of their member engagement strategies include: 


    • Showing empathy at important times for a member – For example, when a member has a baby they send a congratulatory basket to the family (with an ETU branded jumpsuit).
    • Showing direct support for the families of members – For example, if a member’s children are members of a sporting club, they can access up to $1,000 via the ETU grants program to support that club.
    • Being tangibly “there” to support a member during tough times – For example, if a member dies, or if a member falls on hard times, then the union will often step in the provide financial support to the partner.
    • Showing appreciation and recognition to members for their support and length of that service – After 10 years of membership, members are given a badge and certificate of appreciation signed by the State Secretary, showing their years of membership.  Members continue to receive these badges and certificates for every additional five years of service.
    • Rewarding members who pay their membership in full prior to year end – Each year members who pay their membership in full prior to year end receive a 10% discount. While discounting is not always appropriate it is quite effective for this market. Especially combined with the opportunity to win a Nissan Qashqai (this year the winner was a 39 year member of the ETU).
    • Clear, decisive advocacy campaigns that create tangible positive outcomes for members - Perhaps the most compelling engagement strategy used by the ETU Victoria is the passion that the leadership of the union shows for the members – and the way that passion is demonstrated in clear, decisive campaigns designed to achieve a positive outcome for members.

     

    Belinda Moore is Australasia’s leading membership specialists and has worked with a large number of associations, charities and other non-profit organisations to assist them with their membership challenges. She specialises in training, motivating and up-skilling boards, staff and volunteers to improve membership performance. She is the author of two books including "The Membership Machine" and "Membership Fundamentals". More recently she authored the popular paper "Membership is Dead?". Belinda is an experienced presenter and arrives on the platform armed with an array of topics relating to membership. Revealing insights from her personal and professional experiences, she ensures that participants walk away with practical ideas and insights that can immediately be applied.


  • 06 Jul 2016 7:54 PM | Anonymous

    You are not alone if you say, "great..." (with much sarcasm), when faced with another strategic planning session. You know it’s going to be another Saturday never recovered.  Kids sports missed, silly get to know each other games and often some attendees will feel that the strategy has been mapped out with a smaller group some time before, making the formal session, lip service.  So, off you head....

     

    The word "strategy" is pretty simple.  It means an action plan designed to achieve a particular result.   We use it in business, politics, sport and school (I regularly ask during my parent teacher interviews - so, do you have some strategies we can adopt to help them focus more ... ahhhh, boys!).  We all want our teams engaged and enthusiastic about our strategic plan, so it needs to be kept pretty simple and be achievable, practical and measurable.  Otherwise all that eye rolling is absolutely justifiable.

     

    Your strategic plan must be a living document.  Not one from which the dust is blown off when a potential new board member is doing their due diligence.  This requires a commitment from your planning team that the plan will be practical, understandable, achievable and will inspire your team to get in and make it happen. Additionally, it's important that the plan makes sense to both your internal and external stakeholders. 

     

    A three-year plan is generally a term that most associations are comfortable with.   The projects which drive the plan need to be assigned timeframes, a responsible person/team and able to be tracked and reported against with ease. 

     

    This approach is practical and engages your team in the plan's implementation structure. 

     

    Jane Schmitt is a lawyer by professional with significant experience in executive management and has been CEO and Company Secretary of the Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMA Queensland) since 2009. Jane is available to provide direct assistance to organisations seeking to develop and implement their strategic plans. For more information, please contact Jane on jeschmitt166@gmail.com or +61 417 799 235.


  • 05 Jul 2016 8:21 PM | Anonymous

    Data collection is underway for the Annual Member Communications Survey. This survey provides a comprehensive snapshot of their profession. With valuable benchmarking stats and a plethora of data-driven insights, it is a useful tool to help spark internal conversations about bigger budgets, bolder creative ideas and more powerful marketing and communications strategies. Respondents to the survey will receive a first-look at the exclusive report. Please click here to participate in the survey. https://surveymatters.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_a5AaQjKJzvfCzs1

  • 18 May 2016 11:27 AM | Anonymous

    By Julian Moore.


    Potential sponsors don't sit at their desks all day waiting for your proposal to arrive. For many, sponsorship is one part of a larger role which keeps them very busy. This means your proposal isn’t just competing with other sponsorship proposals (of which there will be many) but also with many other distractions for a share of their attention. Having a well-crafted, compelling partnership document is a critical first step in getting the attention of a potential partner.

     

    A good proposal is a particularly useful step where little or no prior relationship exists with the potential partner. A compelling proposal can be an invaluable tool for enticing the other party to the table by making them excited to learn more about you. Once it has completed that task, it is up to you to build a strong personal relationship with the prospective sponsor and turn that interest into a long term, mutually successful partnership.

     

    The focus of your proposal will change depending on the value of the money you are seeking. 

     

    High-value partnership proposal – When seeking a high value partnership, there will generally be a significant amount of tailoring required. The purpose of a high-value proposal is to get the prospective sponsor excited about the prospect of meeting with you to speak further. To achieve this, you should outline the potential benefits of working with you without being overly prescriptive regarding the opportunities. These specifics will be worked out in collaboration with the partner once they have determined they are interested and then documented in a formal agreement. This kind of proposal typically includes: a covering letter, a cover page, a positioning statement, an overview of opportunities, a list of key contacts, testimonials, and some indication of pricing.

     

    Low-value partnership proposal -  When seeking a lower value sponsorship (roughly up to $35,000 but will vary between organisations) you can shorten the sales cycle by being more prescriptive about what the partner receives (as long as it is tangible and nothing as naff as just putting their logo somewhere). This kind of proposal is often used in Annual Partner programs where an association may have a number of partners they manage. This kind of proposal includes everything outlined above, with more detail on the benefits to the partner (rather than just an overview of opportunities), as well as an application form containing terms and conditions. Once the signed application form and payment is returned this becomes the contract for the arrangement.

     

    If you would like a sample copy of a high-value and low-value partnership proposal (including the terms and conditions) please let us know.


  • 18 May 2016 11:18 AM | Anonymous

    By Belinda Moore


    When email first became popular, we were all excited about this new communication medium. It was cheap and you could send millions of emails with the click of a button. It was a big bandwagon that everyone jumped on.

     

    And that’s the problem. People are now so inundated with email that response rates for all but the most innovative communicators are dropping - and response rates from well-crafted direct mail increasing.

     

    The cost savings and potential reach are so attractive that we’ve seen many associations leap with both feet into entirely electronic communications to members without first testing to concept. Please note that “testing” doesn’t mean “asking your members if they’d prefer electronic communications”. That kind of approach doesn’t account for the subtleties of membership engagement as evidenced by the following example:

     

    A client was interested in moving to electronic communication. We recommended they first test the impact. They asked members who would prefer electronic communications.  100 of the members who opted for no hard copy communications were sent only electronic communications – including an e-magazine. 100 of the members who opted for no hard copy communications continued to receive all hard copy communications.

     

    At the end of two full renewal cycles the control group who had continued to receive hard copy communications had been retained at the same rate as previous years. The retention rate of the group who had received only electronic communications was zero. Not a single member from that group had been retained. This was a truly shocking result. While I believe there were multiple factors that led to this startling outcome, we concluded that a significant factor was that the process of receiving a magazine (even one likely not to be read) was still powerful enough to reinforce the value of membership enough to encourage renewal for that association.

     

    Electronic communications are just a single tool in your communications toolbox. Consider how you can most effectively, and economically, use all the tools at your disposal. Some associations have become quite clever at integrating their hard copy and electronic communications. One client has a process where the initial communication is sent via email. A hard copy communication is only sent to those recipients who didn’t click through from the initial email. This is a clever way to ensure your message has been received.

     

    The focus of your communications should be on delivering information that is useful, interesting, or compelling for your members (not something you consider interesting about yourselves). As you are competing with a myriad of other formats and content, you need to utilise a variety of communication channels and formats to ensure your communications reach the recipient.


  • 30 Mar 2016 11:41 PM | Anonymous

    The Certificate in Governance for Not-for-Profits is Australia’s only course for governance professionals with a focus on the not-for-profit sector. Six courses that fulfil the requirements of the Certificate in Governance for Not-for-Profits will be offered over three days as part of an intensive study course. Details of the Certificate are as follows: Date/s: Tuesday 19th April – Thursday 21st April. (9:00am – 5:00pm). For more information, please contact Mary Jarratt at the Governance Institute of Australia on 03 9620 2488 or mary.jarratt@governanceinstitute.com.au

  • 30 Mar 2016 10:42 PM | Anonymous

    By Julian Moore


    Securing new, high-value partnerships is NOT about selling your organisation.

     

    When you send your proposal, the purpose of your proposal is not to tell the potential sponsor everything about your organisation. The proposal is a teaser whose role is to excite the reader into wanting to learn more. 

     

    When you follow up your proposal on the phone, the purpose of the call is not to tell the potential sponsor everything about your organisation. The purpose of that call is to secure a face to face meeting to discuss things further.

     

    And when you do get that meeting, the purpose of the meeting is not to tell the potential sponsor everything about your organisation. The purpose of the meeting is to ask questions to learn more about what the sponsor is trying to achieve, what marketing channels work most comfortably for them, and what their idea of a “successful” partnership looks like. It is your opportunity to build a genuine relationship with the individuals in the other organisation and seriously evaluate whether they are the right partner for your organisation.

     

    With the information you have gathered, you can tailor your sponsorship package to effectively achieve the outcomes your potential sponsor is seeking in a manner both organisations are comfortable with. Now is your opportunity to make a compelling, high value, offer with measurable, tangible outcomes for all parties. 


  • 30 Mar 2016 10:42 PM | Anonymous

    By Belinda Moore

    I have worked with a number of associations recently who have wonderfully high retention rates but very low growth rates. After investigating further, it became apparent that all these associations have a wonderful range of services, many very happy members, and absolutely no sales function whatsoever. To fix this situation, and to effectively recruit new members, you need the have the following processes in place:

    A process for generating leads into your organisation. To create new members, you need prospective members. This means developing strategies for generating leads. This can include attending trade fairs, viral campaigns, and strong internal policies around the collection of opt-ins from prospective members with whom staff and volunteers come in contact with.

    A process for building a relationship with prospective members. Recruiting and retaining members is a bit like dating. Just because you are ready for them to join doesn’t mean they are ready to make that commitment. Having some regular non-member engagement is a great way to enable prospective members to get a feel for the organisation. This can include issuing free e-newsletter and enabling non-members to register to attend your events (at a much higher fee). 

    A process for converting someone from a non-member to a member. There are many great sales channels for membership including direct mail, e-mail, outbound telephone calls, and/or an on-the-ground sales team. Associations who are growing the most strongly use a mix of all of these. After a heavy swing to email over the past 7 years, we are now seeing associations generating an excellent return from sending a well-crafted direct mail piece followed up by a phone call.

    It is vitally important that every prospective member enquiry or outbound campaign is followed up with a phone call. This is an absolutely critical element to member recruitment success. With the advent of cost-effective, outbound call centres specialising in associations (such as Optimum Contact) there is no excuse for these calls not being made.  

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