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3 Types of Association Members and How to Engage Them

Written by Christina Green | on July 1, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Different types of association members and how to engage them.

Novelists, marketers, and psychologists like to lump people into groups. It's not because they like to stereotype, or don't recognize that every individual is unique, it's because they want to provide the best experience possible. Grouping together people who have the same characteristics, enjoy the same things, and have the same motivations makes it easier to help them.

Experts from many industries build profiles of characteristics that people have, such as being an extrovert and wanting professional learning opportunities, and then put people into each profile. These aggregate groupings are often called personas.

For instance, if people enjoy learning by reading, they could fit in a book learner profile, while those who learn by performing tasks might go into an action learner†profile. Professionals can then predict that the book learner group will like reading, and better serve them by creating and distributing written material to people in that group. The action learner group might receive interactive puzzles or tasks instead.

Novelists, psychologists, marketers, membership professionals, executives, and many other professionals all use these types of profiles to make people's actions and reactions more predictable.

A well-researched persona can be very effective for understanding what your members want and how you can best help them by uncovering motivations. You can then use those motivations and preferences to develop offers and solutions that your members find valuable.

How to Use Member Profiles

Profiling your members based on personality and interest helps you get a better idea of what members want. It gives you valuable insight into their preferences, motivations, preferred type of recognition, and other positives. The Meyers-Brigg personality assessment, for example, profiles people based on how they make decisions and view the world. It's used primarily to help people understand themselves and one another in order to build stronger, more productive relationships.

Profiling your members works in much the same way. Not only will it help you predict what your members will like and how they will respond, it will also give you insight into what activities and offers appeal to and engage them. With that information, you can build stronger, lasting relationships with members by providing them with the content and benefits they want most.

Before you use profiles to make general assumptions about your members, however, you should make sure there is data to support your profiles. Online activity data from your online community and website is a good place to start. Look for data on what blogs, benefits, and educational content members consumed, and use those to determine both the subjects and content forms your members prefer.

3 Common Types of Association Members

There are many ways to create profiles of your association members. You can do it along generational lines, personality assessments, professional status, and more, but one of the easiest is by membership goals. Creating profiles around membership goals will help you increase engagement by understanding why members are interested in your association.

While membership goals and their resulting profiles will always vary from association to association, the following types of members are fairly common. Keep in mind that people are complex, and each individual will likely be a combination of these, but understanding who your members are, what motivates them, and what they're good at will help you reach them more effectively.

Member Type #1) Spotlight Seekers

Who they are: These are people looking to make a big impression in your association. They have blog posts and articles they want to share, keynotes they want to give, and expert information for their peers.

Motivations and engagement tips: Spotlight seekers are motivated by public recognition. Any time you feature them or place them in the limelight, you can be assured they will share it with everyone from their mother to their fur baby's vet.

What they're good at: While they can sometimes be a lot to handle all at once, their desire to create and share content makes them a valuable part of your online community and content strategy (hello, guest blog posts).

Member Type #2) The Do-Gooder

Who they are: These people are drawn to your mission. They joined because they believe in your cause and want to be a part of something greater than themselves. Depending on your field, some associations will have more of these than others.

Motivations and engagement tips: Service. Do-gooders want to be of service and help. They're are wonderful volunteers who care less about what they are doing and more about how they are helping make a difference. You need to make them feel valued and show them that they are making an impact.

What they're good at: Do-gooders are tireless advocates for your cause and will use their own social streams to promote your mission. Give them the tools they need to help, such as connecting your online community to their social networks, and they'll use that connection to take your mission to their family and friends.

Member Type #3) Networkers

Who they are: These gregarious people are always mingling; they've never met a stranger. They love meeting new people and are the first ones to introduce themselves, but the most valuable out of this group do more than just grab business cards. They're out there looking for ways to make introductions to others to build a network of valuable connections.

Motivations and engagement tips: Networkers are highly motivated by the prospect of bringing people together. They are puzzle people. They enjoy making an introduction in order to solve a problem. They know a little bit about everyone and unlike the spotlight seeker, they're looking for opportunities of mutual benefit.

As long as you're bringing on new members and hosting events or providing opportunities for members to interact, networkers will be engaged. They make excellent late-stage onboarding coordinators. Have someone else do the preliminary onboarding and these folks can follow up.

What they're good at: In addition to bringing people together at functions, networkers can also be excellent content curators because they know people, and they know what information is helpful to which person. They also promote valuable name recognition for your association. If they are out there solving problems and providing value, and they're associated with you, their goodwill reflects positively on your association.

Member Profile Takeaway

While you can use these profiles to help better understand your members, they should never color your attitude towards them or cause you to cut down on questions because you have them “figured out.†Member profiles are a guide and jumping off point so you can understand and engage with members in the way that they find most valuable.

Use these three membership motivator profiles to get started, and back them up with your own data. What types of members are in your association? Do your networkers prefer mentoring opportunities in addition to events and conferences? Adapt these profiles for your members, and use them to create relevant, valuable engagement opportunities.

Nine low-cost member engagement strategies for associations.

Topics: Member Engagement, Marketing Automation, Online Community

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