I mentioned a few days ago that I'd be sending out responses to "top concerns" submitted by association executives who have recently downloaded resources from our website.
One of the most often mentioned challenges was how difficult it is to maintain consistent communication... some people specifically mentioned staying in touch with members... others took it from the angle of communicating with prospects... one person talked about Board member communication and engagement.
Regardless of WHO you are trying to communicate with, the fundamental problem tends to be the same.
We make the job too big and too difficult to do consistently! We know we *should* send something out, but we have to figure out what we're going to say, how we're going to say it, when we're going to send it, how to load the content into the right dissemination tool, etc. If we have to make all of those decisions every single time we need to send something out rather than having a well planned system that can be easily implemented, it makes the job feel time-consuming and much more difficult than it has to be.
Here's the three step plan that our team takes when we're responsible for a client's communication strategy:
1) MAKE IT EASY TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT!
Start by brainstorming a list of...
- Topics members care about
- Questions members tend to have
- Problems members want to solve
When you've captured all of your ideas, just number the ideas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... etc.
The number of ideas generated equals the number of weeks that you now have covered. So, let's say that 12 ideas come out of the brainstorming, you now have an entire quarter's worth of articles planned. If there are 50+ ideas, you're covered for a full year. You no longer have to think about what to write. You just look at your list and you have the topic for the week. Of course, you can always add in a mention of an upcoming event or something else that is of importance, but you'll never again have to struggle with what to write about. You will be *amazed* at how much relief this simple practice will create.
2. MAKE THE WRITING PROCESS EASY!
If you're the type of person who can spend a whole day agonizing over an article to send to your members or to post to your association's blog, this behavior can be a HUGE barrier to communicating consistently.
Here's what I'd encourage you to do instead... imagine that a member has stopped by your office, poked their head in the door and said, "Hey, what can you tell me about .... insert the topic that you are supposed to be writing about ... ?
Since they've just popped by, you don't have a lot of time to talk, so you'd just want to tell them 2-3 things that you know about the topic. What suggestions would you have for them? Are there association resources that can help? Is there something external to the association that you'd tell them about.
If you *write* what you'd speak if someone just popped by, the words will flow onto paper with greater ease. You'll also sound friendlier and more approachable which is important to establishing engaged relationships. Keep it short and sweet. You don't have to share everything in one article. Just tell them about 2-3 key points. They truly won't read much more than that anyway. (Quick story... years ago, I used to do a more traditional, structured ezine, but the open rates were terrible... typically less than 10% of people would actually read what I spent so much time creating. Now that I've gone to a much simpler format, I frequently get open rates of 60+% and my readers are far more likely to read and reply to my messages.)
3. THEMES MAKE EVERYTHING ELSE EASIER, TOO!
If you treat your brainstormed idea list like a theme for the week, there's a synergy that emerges that makes all of your other communications easier (and more powerful). Suddenly, you're able to not only send an article to your list, but you can post that same article to your blog... or do a quick google search and find some other resources on that topic so that you can add to a members-only page as a "Recommended Resources" list... or create a quick video... or schedule a webinar on the topic if it seems to pique strong response from your members.
I hope you find this helpful! Again, pre-planning makes a HUGE difference. You'll have to spend no time whatsoever agonizing over what to write. You'll always be addressing a topic that's of relevance. And you'll be able to multi-purpose what you produce over-and-over again.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I'd love to hear your feedback on these ideas. Drop a quick reply and let me know your thoughts.
Please also remember that if you need help setting up easy communication systems for your association, my team is AWESOME at implementing websites, online portals, member databases and communication software.
An initial consultation is always complimentary. You can instantly pick a day/time online that suits your schedule.