They are now members. Yes! Time to fire up your new member on-boarding program.
Don’t have one? It’s a little rusty? So what’s next?
Obviously a celebration, right? Or information from a firehose? Or big bear hugs all around? What’s the first step to making them feel a part of your wonderful chamber?
You have to do something. But in what order?
This article will give you some insights on how to get your new member on-boarding program humming so you can welcome new chamber members by:
- making them feel like part of an amazing organization and program
- giving them the information they need in digestible amounts
- introducing them to the people they want to get to know
- helping their business grow by giving them the resources they need
Are you ready? It’s likely your new member is but let’s slow it down for a moment to understand what’s going on behind the scenes.
It may seem that the natural approach to member onboarding is telling them what an awesome organization they joined. After all, I mentioned in the above paragraph that you want new members to feel a part of something much larger than themselves, a group that’s making a difference.
And there’s time for that.
But they already think you’re great. They wrote out a check. It’s better to start by helping them first. This involves understanding their needs and using them to focus how you present your offerings.
Begin at the Beginning: What’s Your New Member Thinking?
As any marketer will tell you, understanding your audience is paramount to success. So let’s take a moment to cover what your member is likely thinking and feeling.
This is the honeymoon stage. They’re really quite enamored of your chamber. Again, they’ve written you a check to prove it. They’re probably excited about all the possibilities and are hoping this investment in their business will help their cash register ring.
If you haven’t done so already, it’s important to ask your new member why they are joining your chamber. Their answer probably comes down to a few things:
- they want more customers
- they desire to make a name for their business in the community
- they want to be part of the community/want to get involved
- they feel the need to meet more people and learn from them
They may mention advocacy and connections but often growing their business is a major objective behind why they joined.
What Are They Really Thinking?
Now that they’ve told you why they joined, you want to figure out what’s keeping them up at night. Often, while these answers may be related, they are different enough that you’ll want to ask. For instance, they may have shared that they joined the chamber to “grow the business.” And that’s because they’re having a hard time keeping up with a large chain that just went in.
Finding out their why and their fear will help you assist them quicker. And thus make them loyal members sooner.
Aside from loyalty, why ask these sometimes uncomfortable questions?
Because you want to get to know the new member, which allows you to tailor your services to their needs.
You don’t want to tell them everything you can do for them at once. The details will get lost in the firehose of information. Instead, you want to give them the things that mean something to them first.
Customize Your Content to What They Need
Again, most people join the chamber for a handful of reasons. It’s also likely that the things they struggle with are issues you’ve heard of (and helped with) before. It doesn’t take much more time to create content involving a few different scenarios. For instance, if someone wanted to grow their business and struggles with networking, send a special email to them inviting them to your speed networking event and a lunch and learn about how to network more efficiently or send them an article you wrote on networking tips for people who hate to network.
Then track their clicks. What did they take a closer look at? Note this in your membership management software. Ideally, you’ll create an entire drip marketing campaign for your new members with multiple email paths based on what’s important to them.
Using Drip Marketing for New Member On-boarding
Drip marketing uses emails to stay in touch with your audience. Instead of crushing them under a deluge of information, you create a campaign and give them spoonfuls of information that’s important to them. You track their interaction with the content and create “if/then” scenarios for them. If they click on this, they will then get this email. If they don’t, they’ll be added to another group for a different email.
Here’s a great example of one I came across recently:
A little while ago, I downloaded Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar budgeting app. There’s a slight learning curve to the app. The company uses a drip marketing campaign to ensure you not only get the most out of the app but also that you understand budgeting. For many using the app, this is probably their first time on a specified budget.
This may be true of new members of yours as well. Their membership may be the first time they’ve joined a chamber and they might not know exactly how to get the most out of membership.
While the app component doesn’t directly apply to your chamber, the value and adoption part does. Here’s what you can take away from what EveryDollar is implementing:
- They are consistent with their message. Every morning I get a 3 sentence blurb on a topic about budgeting with an invitation to read more. I know to expect these tips because of their consistent daily, a.m. delivery.
- Since the topics vary, they can track my interest by what I click on. Am I clicking on savings and retirement? Maybe I’m more interested in tips on slashing my grocery budget. My activity tells them my needs. You can learn the same thing from your members or prospects by tracking the content they interact with and thus learning more about what they want.
- They mix how-to tips with general budgeting tips. It’s not always about them. They give their users tips on general budgeting interests as well. You can do the same at your chamber by providing info on things like the best ways to make the most of your chamber membership as well as general business tips.
- The emails are brief and visual. The daily email features a bold image and provides bite-sized info with the option of learning more. They don’t give me everything in one long email. That way I don’t feel overwhelmed by information.
- At the end, they invited me to be more social. At the end of the drip marketing onboarding campaign, they sent an email encouraging me to connect with them socially and share my “wins” with the community. Inviting your members to do the same can give them a next step. It can even help you gain referrals while the member’s in the honeymoon period.
But what if what your new member wants is a specific introduction or to meet a mentor or other business help?
That’s exactly why you ask them their reason behind joining. If the reason is very specific, do your best to connect them with the type of people (or person) they want to meet by getting them involved. Make them aware of volunteer opportunities and who they can meet outside of events. Stress the importance of being seen with chamber branding and social media participation. Be as specific as possible. People can tell the difference between personal assistance and a blanket suggestion you give everyone.
Put It All Together in a Chamber New Member On-boarding Program Checklist
New member onboarding can be an exhaustive process with lots of moving parts. Successful chambers create a checklist (especially when using drip marketing) so they can ensure every new member receives the same number of reach-outs.
Here’s an example of what your new member on-boarding program checklist might look like:
- Match each of your new members with a loyal member. Bonus if that person is a good fit for the type of business the new member has. This relationship could also be less formal and the chamber “buddy” could be a part of your ambassador’s program.
- Send a welcome packet.
- Suggest pertinent training or networking events based on their business.
- Invite them to the welcome breakfast.
- Pass along interesting stats about membership in infographic form, including the average number of referrals or training costs saved through membership. This can also be part of your onboarding drip campaign.
- Do a social media announcement. Make it interesting. Include more than the business name and “welcome.”
- Keep an eye out for the new member at the first event. When you see them make a meaningful introduction.
- Touch base after two weeks and again every month for the first few of membership. Find out if their needs are being met. Listen for what they might need but aren’t saying.
Build a Team
Finally, it’s important to build on the honeymoon period. Earlier, we talked about how the new member obviously likes what the chamber is doing. But that early interest is not enough. You want them fully “on the bandwagon.” Younger generations have mentioned in surveys they want to work for and buy from organizations that are part of something larger than themselves. They want to feel good about who they’re associating with.
Make sure after you have been a valuable resource to your new members that you also share with them your successes and the successes of other members you have helped. For instance, share with them your economic development information, your past advocacy successes and what those meant for the community, as well as success stories from other members.
Maybe you shared some of these with them during the membership sales process. But don’t stop there. Keep wooing them, not by bragging, but by complimenting them on their wise investment. Make it about them and their decision to join but help them realize the value of what they’ve done. They’ll not only feel good about their decision but also about their affiliation with such an impressive group. Make your new member on-boarding program show them the value of that decision all over again.