Call us crazy, but there’s not much we’d rather do than spend a week learning and sharing all things membership-related. April’s American Museum Membership Conference in Pittsburgh provided the perfect opportunity. The S&W team came away with many great ideas for our clients’ programs, inspired by new strategies, trends, and success stories from the world of membership.

Here are our five top takeaways from the conference—insights we hope will prove useful as you work to strengthen the membership program at your organization.

  1. Mission matters. Sure, members love a great deal and the value of their benefits, but they’re also invested in your mission. Your members want to feel like they belong to a community that stands for something meaningful and important. So take every opportunity to remind them that they do.
  2. Reputation matters too. What other people say about your organization is more influential in driving positive member behavior than anything you can tell people about yourself. A good reputation boosts member acquisition, visitation, retention, and philanthropic support. So how do you fuel that kind of positive word-of-mouth? Make sure your members have a positive experience at all points of engagement with your organization. With every visit they make, every event they attend, and every email, mailing, or phone call they receive—remember that each impression counts.
  3. Tell members what they want to hear—when they want to hear it. Members are your organization’s number-one built-in audience for information about programs, events, benefits, and news. But managing member communications effectively takes careful attention—and there’s definitely such a thing as too much information. Be thoughtful about member communications, keeping in mind the goal to provide information that is timely and relevant to your members. Successful membership programs work closely with marketing/PR teams to develop a communication strategy that aligns with a shared goal to engage and retain members.
  4. Mail is the new (old) black. Email and digital communications offer a cost-effective way to reach members, but your message may be getting lost in the barrage of subject lines and status updates that clog people’s inboxes and news feeds. Mail is still the number-one driver of revenue sector-wide, and it gets attention. It’s also a great way to say thanks, remind members to visit, or share a great story about the impact of member support for your mission.