Association staff members are great at getting to know members. Working with members on committees, meeting them at events, and talking to them during the membership onboarding process provide valuable insights into what they want from the association – as individuals.
While these individual expectations and attributes are important, it is a dangerous strategy to base a membership campaign on feedback from specific people. An association’s membership is composed of a wide range of people who represent different ages, experience levels, genders, career goals, and expectations. Identifying and relying on a handful of carefully crafted “personas” to drive campaign messages and media results in more effective membership recruitment and retention.
Five of the steps identified in 9 Steps for Building Member Personas, include:
- Define your purpose. Do you want to focus on recruitment or retention? Personas may differ for recruitment campaigns because you are creating a profile of potential new members for the future compared to existing members.
- Review your data. This is mainly demographic information such as age or generation, gender, educational or income level, business ownership, and location. Combine members into main groups.
- Dig into details. Once you have the main groups identified and have name the persona – Daniel the Dentist – look at social media and your association’s online community to learn more about what they ask about or what they struggle with.
- Bring your team into the discussion. Although member persona research may be driven by the membership manager, include event planners, board members, and long-time executives and staff who spend time with members and can fill in the blanks.
- Find your association’s role. The exercise of creating personas that represent the different groups included within your current membership and in potential members helps direct more effective messaging with personalized communications that show how the association can benefit them specifically.
Creating the personas that will drive membership campaigns takes time and effort to make sure each persona accurately reflects the target audience. Unfortunately, the initial burst of enthusiasm for the personas fades in some organizations, and the personas are “put on the shelf.”
In The Value of Personas in Content Marketing Strategy, the author suggests the following to make sure you get the most out of your personas:
- Design campaigns—from SEO to landing pages, blogs, long-form content, events, etc.—specifically dedicated to one of your audience personas.
- Add a preliminary step before creating a content marketing strategy that addresses which persona the material will be aimed at.
- Regularly update the personas, after events, campaigns, etc. so they are always the most accurate representation of your current target audience.
When done well, personas can provide the framework for effective campaigns that promote retention, recruitment and event registration for the entire association.