4 Steps to Develop Association Member Personas

By: Real Magnet

The term “persona” may sound like highfalutin jargon. But, really, it’s just the latest term for what always has been Marketing 101: Know your audience, and deliver what’s interesting and relevant to it. This is especially true for associations.

By understanding your members’ roles and responsibilities, motivations and drivers, you can create meaningful dialogue with them.

Here are four steps to develop member personas.

Step 1: Define your membership.
Before taking on the task of creating a unique persona, you must define your association. Once this is established, you can begin to segment your membership data.

For example, if you are a:

  • Trade Organization. Demographic groupings can be built based on items like the member organization’s revenue, number of employees or geographic business scope.
  • Professional Association or Society. You can begin to segment those members by particular demographics, such as where they are in their career and by their specialization within the industry.

You can also use member scoring as a tool to group your members. Highly-engaged members are likely further down the sales funnel as potential buyers of value-added member benefits.

In order to create the right personas for your association, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Is it meaningful? (Will this persona make sense to you and others? Will it be recognizable?)
  2. Is it manageable? (Is my persona too specific? Is it too broad?)

Step 2: Uncover data.
Where do you find the information you need to build out your personas? In places like these:

  • Membership applications. Great place to start gathering the “who” and the “what.”
  • Association management software (AMS) or customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Good sources to spot potential persona groups.
  • Rely on subject matter experts (SMEs). Ask your colleagues for input from their respective areas.
  • Go to the source. Ask the members themselves.

Step 3: Document your personas.
Keeping track of your personas is as easy as producing a Word document or an infographic to paint a picture of the types of members comprising the persona.

Don’t forget to ask yourself again those two important questions: Is it meaningful? Is it manageable?

Step 4: Put your personas to work.
Once your member personas are established, you can deliver more useful, relevant content to them. Here’s how.

Marketing automation enables you to take what you know about various personas and then customize your messages. Two advantages to using marketing automation:

  1. Dynamic content. This sophisticated tool enables you to create one campaign. But, with sections of dynamically rendered content to target specific personas.
  2. Segmentation. Marketing automation makes the job of segmenting your campaigns easier. It enables you to look at your audiences and customize your offers, then segment to your various personas.

Bottom line.
A quick recap:

  • Start small.
  • Keep personas simple and manageable.
  • Refine and expand over time.
  • Personas = insight.

By: Real Magnet

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Engaging Your Association's Introverts: 3 Tips

By: Callie Walker

You’ve probably heard and read a lot about introverts. You might even BE an introvert. But are you taking enough action to engage your association’s introverts?

If not, it might be time to offer a few new outlets/opportunities. In fact, here are three specific ways to engage your association’s introverts:

1. Provide them with quiet time/spaces at your meetings and events

It’s a common misconception that introverts don’t like being around people. That’s not true. Rather, introverts just need time alone to recharge. Extroverts get their energy from being around people. Introverts, on the other hand, sometimes feel drained after being around people. They get their energy from spending time alone.

That said, make sure you’re tapping into those needs at your association’s next event. If you have an annual meeting or conference - something that lasts a full day or more - consider having a quiet room where attendees (and your introverted members in particular) can go and relax. This will allow them to engage with your association while still feeling comfortable and true to who they are.

2. Provide them with individual volunteer opportunities

Often, volunteer opportunities are presented in groups. For example, committees. Committees are ongoing and group-oriented - and sometimes, that can be unappealing to your introverted members.

But that’s not to say your introverted members don’t want to volunteer. They do, so just make sure you're providing them with individual opportunities. These could be things like writing*, planning, handling administrative tasks, etc. The more opportunities you provide, the more opportunities they’ll have to get involved.

(*Note: Introverts are often great writers. They’re deliberate communicators and like to put time and thought into what they’re saying. That said, take advantage of that at your association. Encourage your members to write copy for your newsletter, your blog, your online social community, etc. We bet you’ll see some traction.)

3. Provide them with online outlets and platforms to speak out

We all know it’s easier - and less intimidating, for sure - to talk online than it is to talk in front of a big group of people, especially if those are people you don’t really know. Again, turn that into an opportunity for your association. Set up social media accounts and an online social community where your introverted members can go and speak out/meet others. This can be a starting point for them to meet people and engage. Then, when they’re at events, they can more comfortably chat with others, particularly if they’ve interacted with those people a few times prior.  

At the end of the day, engaging your introverted members is all about respecting their likes and personal preferences. The more opportunities you provide that are in line with those preferences, the more engagement you’re likely to see all around.

Want more tips for engaging your members, regardless of whether they’re introverts or extroverts? Check out our free guide, Membership Engagement for Small-Staff Associations, below!

Author: Callie Walker

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10 Tips for Choosing a Magazine Printer

By: D. Eadward Tree

The United States has more than 20,000 printing businesses. When it comes to producing magazines, you can probably ignore at least 98% of those.

Lots of printers can print magazines. (“Sure, we print magazines. We print everything,” says Vinny, that fast-talking friend of a friend who sells for a local printing company. “We gotta lot of open press time, so I can give you a great deal.”) But most magazine publishers need a printer that can do more than print.

Magazine publishers usually ask their printers to receive, process, and store page files from a variety of sources, including ad agencies that increasingly don’t know how to create a print-ready PDF. We need them to bind a variety of cards, cover wraps, and inserts that are supplied by other printers, then to print addresses onto some copies but not onto others.

Printers presort our subscriber files, keep us in compliance with postal regulations, manage the shipment of some copies to far-flung places, and put others into storage for future use. (See Tip #1).

Read on for 10 tips for selecting a printer.

Tip #1: Choose a publication printer, not a printer that happens to produce publications.

Unless you publish the simplest of magazines—with no externally produced ads, no mailed copies, no versions, and only local distribution—you probably need a printer with real expertise and deep experience with our industry.

Some publication printers specialize in producing magazines and catalogs. Others serve a more diversified set of industries, but have plants, employees, and equipment dedicated to and optimized for publications. In any case, you don’t want a printer who has to learn the magazine business from you; you want one that has worked with enough publishers to understand your needs and to offer new ideas.

Tip #2: Review—and reconsider—your magazine’s major specifications.

The time to think about changing trim size, page counts, circulation, frequency, or binding type is before you start talking to potential printers.

Tip #3: List your gotta-haves.

If your advertisers love the unusual gatefolds you offer, make sure the new printer can produce something similar. Newsstand shipments, polybagging, blow-in cards, regional and demographic versions, international distribution, and significant back-issue storage (and retrieval) are among the needs that some printing plants may not be able to handle.

Tip #4: List your pain points.

Write down your publication’s operational challenges, even if they aren’t directly related to printing. Where have things gone wrong? Where are you lacking expertise or spinning your wheels? What are your advertisers requesting or your competitors offering that you can’t? You’d be surprised what some publication printers can do for you, including the creation of digital editions, email campaigns, websites, and other products that have nothing to do with putting ink on paper.

Tip #5: Avoid doing in-plant color approvals.

Sending a staff member or contractor to the printing plant for “color OK’s” is a red flag for prospective printers: It indicates something is wrong with your page files, and it means extra press time and waste while press operators respond to vague feedback like, “This needs to be a bit warmer.” With today’s file specifications, preflight programs, and on-press color-management systems, printers can achieve the best color reproduction when they print “to the numbers” across all pages rather than trying to match proofs or a person’s preferences on specific pages.

Tip #6: Think beyond local.

Savvy publishers don’t fall for the myth that their printing plant needs to be located near the publisher’s offices. Even for regional publications, an out-of-town printer with a good logistics operation might not be at a disadvantage and may offer strengths that the locals don’t have.

Tip #7: Look for sweet spots.

Magazines are printed on a wide variety of presses, ranging from the size of a dinner table to larger than a mansion. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. A plant where the equipment and crews are dialed in to doing press runs in the hundreds of thousands is likely to struggle with print orders of 5,000. Likewise, a printing plant that has only sheet-fed presses might say it can handle a print order of 100,000, but don’t waste your time: A printer with offset presses should be far more efficient. Your best bet is to be in a printing plant that produces products that are physically similar to yours.

Tip #8: Consider paper.

Ask printers not just for their prices but also for their paper allowances—the amount of paper they will be allowed to use for a print job. There can be significant differences in allowances from printer to printer for the same job—sometimes because one printer would use a press that isn’t the best fit for your publication. It’s also worth asking prospective printers about paper alternatives; a printer that can use a lighter weight or lower grade of paper might be able to gain you substantial savings. If the printer supplies the paper, you’ll need to address pricing—not just today but after market prices rise or fall. And if you supply your own paper, expect to pay handling and/or storage fees.

Tip #9: Factor in postage.

The ability to garner postage savings is often the key differentiator between one printer and another. Choosing the right printer can reduce your postal bill by 20% or more. No matter how much open press time Vinny’s company has, he can’t cut his prices enough to make up for the lack of co-mailing or dropshipping capabilities.

Tip #10: Compare costs, not prices.

Even the simplest printing contract may have a price list with scores of items. Printer A may charge more for printing but less for binding than Printer B. One may use paper more efficiently, while the other may offer less expensive paper. And then there’s postage, which costs many publishers more than printing or paper.

The best way to make sense of it all is to total up all the costs of publishing an issue using each printer, from receiving page files, to producing the copies, and then to the mailing, storage, and shipping of the copies. Don’t forget to factor in the value of services and capabilities that some other printers don’t offer.

But don’t necessarily pick the lowest-cost option. The choice of a printer is too important to be decided solely on cost. The intangibles, like responsiveness and innovative solutions, go a long way.

Author: D. Eadward Tree

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