Ideas for Your Association’s Next Send Out

Within your association, just like most every organization, great communication is key. Actually, it’s not just key, it’s imperative. The worth of your association is weighed by the amount of value you can offer. There are a lot of ways to provide value to your members. Events, e-learning courses and live seminars are a few of the beneficial assets in an association’s arsenal. However, these offerings can’t be produced and provided at a high level of frequency. Once quarterly or even twice in a calendar year can sometimes be all that is feasible.

Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, that just won’t do. Your association is going to need to provide a valuable resource in a format that can be pumped out at a higher rate and will allow you to bridge the gap between the larger, more comprehensive value propositions. This is where how you communicate with your members becomes integral to the health of your association.

The ways you keep your members engaged in your community when there isn’t an event or seminar scheduled for the near future can be make or break stuff. What’s more, it’s not hard to fall into a routine of repetition with your content – always sounding and looking the same. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of methods to communicate content. There’s an endless amount of content formats that, if employed strategically, empower your association to prevent becoming boring. To keep members bright eyed and bushy tailed, you have to mix things up and keep them guessing. When providing value through your send outs, members shouldn’t know what’s coming and should always be interested to find out what you’ve provided. That’s when you know your content has them engaged.

Below are a few examples of content formats you can implement when crafting send outs for your membership. This list provides just a handful of ideas. There are obviously many more formats you can apply. Just remember, the order of the day is variety. As long as your content isn’t predictable, your readership will stay on their toes.

Tutorial Brief
Think tutorial, except an abridged version. When sending out a resource, there’s sometimes room for the provision of a lengthier piece of content (such as a white paper our e-book). However, while you may get more mileage out of long-form resources from some members, you’ll get considerably more uptake on brief content pieces. As for what topic your tutorial brief should be tutoring on? It could be most anything really. From industry hacks to how best to sign-up for a course via your AMS. All that matters is that the content stays high level. You don’t want to get too detailed in an abbreviated tutorial. Ensure the language is easy to understand and the reader can clearly decipher what is being described. These brief step-by-step guides can be so valuable that readers may even save it for reference later.
Frequently Asked Questions content may be one of the best bespoke formats out there. Why? Well, because you can make FAQs so pertinent to your association readership. Always take stock of what questions your members have and when you feel that you’ve accumulated enough queries, incorporate them into a one-pager and provide the answers to those questions. There’s huge value for both the members and your association in offering FAQs every so often. The members will become informed on recurring questions and association administrators will no longer need to continually repeat their answers to those queries.
Top Five
For whatever reason, top fives are extremely impactful pieces of content. Something about them taps into most people’s interest. Maybe it’s that people enjoy the ranking of things. Maybe it’s that the way the content is presented seems tidy. Maybe it’s that, because of the content’s progressive nature, it’s more enjoyable to read. Whatever the case may be, top fives are highly consumable pieces of content. As for the topics you could integrate into this format – the possibilities are endless. For example, ahead of an association event that you are hosting, you could send out a piece titled, “Top Five Most Exciting Things to See at Our Upcoming Conference”. Top fives are versatile and easy to adapt to your benefit. What’s more, since they are so popular, you can rest assured that they will get read.
Info Sheet
Info sheets are a great way to provide very topically focused information in a brief package. The intention of these pieces is to get into the details but avoid being longwinded. In order to accomplish this, you need to be precise in what you want to address and not stray from it. You don’t want this type of content to become a long-form piece. If you feel there is a need for the topic in question to be more fleshed out, save that content for a lengthier format. An info sheet should be no more than 2 pages, so make sure your content is without filler. Capitalize on every word so the piece can be as concise as possible while still offering valuable and complete insight.
Industry News
This type of content doesn’t really need much explanation. As its title suggests, you’re looking to keep your member readership up to date on all things applicable to their industry. This can be a valuable asset to members, as they will be able to get a quick hit of the goings on – so they can stay informed on what’s happening around them. The layout for this type of content is extremely important as you’ll want to give the top news stories the greatest and most visually evident play. Not all industry information is going to be interesting to every reader. You’ll need to identify what you believe will be most interesting to your member audience so you can highlight it accordingly.
5-Minutes or Less
Some readers (especially executives) just don’t have a lot of time to devote to consciously sit down and read a piece of content. That’s why, every once and a while, you should provide a “5-minutes of less” piece. Always ensure the words “5-minutes or less” are in the title, as this will help some readers decide that they can commit themselves to reading the article. As for the content for this format, you need to be incredibly ruthless to stay within the time limit. You have very few words to work with, so you definitely can’t get into the weeds. Keep the topic conversational and high-level. This type of content isn’t necessarily going to provide answers. The goal is actually to stimulate questions.
This might be the simplest and quickest type of content that you can produce. What’s interesting is that, even though it takes the least amount of effort on the association side, it might get the most uptake of any type of content from your membership. Polls are interactive, which people enjoy, and everyone likes to weigh in on things. What’s more, a lot of value can be derived by your association from the feedback received from polls. Member insight can inform your association on what move they should make next, that will match the expectations of your membership. Besides the value, polls are just plain fun and entertaining. It’s always interesting to see what the overarching feeling is regarding this or that.
After an event, conference or lunch & learn that was particularly successful and enjoyable, it’s nice for attendees to relive their time there. An “in-review” article allows your member readership to quickly reminisce on how fun the event was. Within this type of article, you should summarize some things that happened during the event that you can’t find on the itinerary – as those are the things that will be most memorable for attendees and most interesting for those who were not able to make an appearance. There is not a lot gained from an in-review article’s content itself. However, since your readership will enjoy rehashing an event they were a part of, engagement of the content will be high. Whenever one of your pieces of content has strong engagement, it has a cascading impact on content that follows, as it will reinforce among your member readers that they feel good when consuming your send outs.
This is a fantastic one. Everyone likes checklists – especially if they help the reader accomplish a task or initiative more efficiently. Rules of thumb when crafting an impactful checklist – keep it to one page, ensure the questions the checklist is asking the user are clear and concise, and try to consolidate any line items that could be in reference to the same task. Too often, checklists become cumbersome and complex, which is the exact opposite of their worth. To make a checklist a valuable resource for your member readership, make the content as clean-cut as is possible.
Case Study
A great case study can be incredibly impactful in making a point. This is a great resource to share with your member readership to follow-up on a blog or event that centres around the same topic the case study speaks to. As an association, you’re looking to be an influencer in your industry. That means, you not only have to present forward-thinking concepts, but you must also provide resources that support those concepts. By presenting ideas and backing them with real-world evidence, your members will be empowered to introduce these concepts within their own organizations.
Everyone loves infographics because they are visually stimulating while getting a whole bunch of useful information in a condensed package. What’s more, they are extremely reusable. Infographics are the type of content resource that can become viral. When crafting an infographic piece, ensure there is great emphasis placed on how best to incorporate the information into the visual elements. Your design team will be key here. The entire package (which should be no more than 2 pages) should be very visual heavy, so actual content has to be kept to a minimum.
Nothing like old faithful – the blog post. The content for your blog should live on your website, so traffic will be drawn in. However, you can craft a tiny bit of short-form content and pair it with an excerpt from the actual blog, to include in the body of your send out – when directing readers back to your blog post. Since you’ll want to schedule the release of blog posts more frequently than any other form of content you provide, you can go ahead and get really creative with topics. Make sure you think outside the box, as it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate your content from everyone else’s.

Whatever format you choose to send out to your membership, make sure the release schedule is frequent enough to keep them engaged and the content is varied enough to keep them inspired. To accomplish this with greatest efficiency, you can setup an automated send out scheduler via your association management system that will make it easier on administrators – so they don’t need to do it manually.

If you’d like to find out how an AMS can support your member engagement efforts, a representative of the Guild team would be happy to show you how our solution is the right fit for your association management needs. To find out more, or to schedule a live demo of Guild, click here.