We had the meeting to see if they would like some thinking done for them on the ways that various Web2.0 technologies might help their organisations from two perspectives:
- how the organisation communicated with and supplied services to its members
- what usages of social media, social networking or other online tools might be worth documenting and sharing for its members to help them with their marketing and operations
Our chat began with my two guests sitting defensively, with arms folded and an air of weariness about this Southerner who was ‘here to help’.
And they were right to be suspicious. I have heard some horror stories of people blowing in, promising the world, then blowing out.
I noticed the ice beginning to melt when I shared stories about my regular visits to the Top End since 2007 and, importantly, how at least half of them have been during the Wet and outside Darwin.
Anyway, we didn’t reach the a-ha moment until the ‘C’ word got used.
Communication: The bane of every organisation, association and business
After I gave an overview of the various online marketing channels open to us these days, from Facebook and Twitter to YouTube and Blogging, and after we had the usual round of protestations that they will take up too much time and how most members are older (a topic for the Keynote address in October), we got onto Communication.
In particular, it got mentioned that one of the most frustrating things that obstructs the health of their memberships was that their newsletter emailing systems were slow and laborious and they often had the sense that things were not being read.
Finally, there was a crack in their armour and because both associations had less than 2,000 members, I had one word for them; Mailchimp.
Mailchimp is an online eNewsletter service in which you:
- upload you contacts
- compose your emails
- choose which members you wish to send each particular newsletter to
- see which members actually opened your newsletter
Did I mention it was free? It is for accounts with less than 2,000 subscribers.
I was struck by the dramatic change in the body language of my guests. I was now engaged with two people furiously taking notes and asking more questions.
We were able to discuss some of the quirks of the system and the benefits of segmenting your email lists so that wherever possible the information you send only goes to the members who might be interested, not to everyone.
In fact, if you can find any method for making your emails to clients, prospects or members more targeted, you will preserve the value of you communication.
If you think about it, as a member of an association with a wide range of members, how many newsletters would it take before you started ignoring and deleting them if all the information being sent was irrelevant to your particular business? Being able to be smarter with who you ‘bombard’ with information is the key to savvy and effective communication.
What I saw again in this exchange is how vital it is when you are promoting new ways of doing things (online marketing, social marketing, take up of the National Broadband Network, new operational guidelines) to listen to your audience and find ways to highlight how your ‘changes’ or ‘innovations’ actually solve problems they have or help them reap bigger benefits.
It is human nature to stick with what we know. But it is also human nature to adopt new things if we ‘get it’, if we can grasp the new concept.