I've been working for and with chambers of commerce, associations and membership organizations for nearly 20 years. I've never seen anyone hug their computer, let alone hug their member database. Oh sure, there have been some who've said they LOVE their database (WebLink clients, of course!), but mostly it's viewed as a necessary evil. Let's change that!
First, why do you have a database? Or member management software? Or a customer relationship management system?
What do you do with it? Do you:
- Create mailing labels to send your members a newsletter?
- Look up members' phone numbers when you need to call them?
- Enter event dates and committee meeting minutes?
- Send invoices to your members?
If you're just doing basic things and not gaining valuable insight from your membership data, you're missing tremendous opportunities to truly connect with your members - and future members - and expand your organization's influence.
Sure, your association will be able to survive by tracking basic information, sending out email and newsletters and running monthly board reports. But do you want to survive or do you want to thrive and enrich the community of businesses you serve?
Why not shoot for more? Why not use your database to:
- Extract member intelligence to help you better KNOW your members?
- Use this member intelligence to make better decisions for managing and marketing your chamber?
- Directly integrate member information with your website for real-time updates?
- Learn which members are the most (at least) valuable?
- Segment your members for more personal communications to them?
- Predict how certain members may act based on past behavior?
- Build relationships with your members in such a way that they become raving fans?
- Communicate the value your members receive so well that your retention rate soars?
You may have heard something like, "you don't have a database to put information in to, you have a database to get information out of." So, what kind of data, information and business intelligence are you extracting from your membership management software? Are you using that information to do work or to grow and improve?
Can you find ways your membership management software can help you become a critical partner in your members' success?
What would it take for you to do this? Some features that help make this easier are:
- A web-based member management system. Access the system from anywhere. Save money and remove risks by no longer housing a database server in your office.
- Seamless integration with your general ledger accounting software. Integration saves you time and potential mistakes during duplicate entries.
- Robust reporting capabilities. As you find ways to better use your data, you're going to want to see it in different ways too. A reporting tool that give you maximum flexibility will also give you maximum opportunities.
- Multi-user logins. If each of your staff can log in as themselves, you can track their interactions with your data and the relationships they have with your members.
- Direct website integration. Make it easy for your members to access and update their information, register for events or connect with other members.
- Dashboards. Quick-glance information centers that help you quickly understand your data and take action on it.
- Social media integration. Today, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds are as important as phone numbers and websites for potential customers to connect with your members.
- Advanced member segmentation. Slicing and dicing your membership data into chunks can help you see which type of members are most valuable. And you can communicate with each segment to deliver more personal, relevant information.
What if you were able to do all these things and more? You could change the culture of your organization to be data-centric and use your membership management system to create a high-touch environment for your members.
- Show them that you're listening.
- Provide them the information they want and need.
- Communicate your value to them.
All of this requires good data, a good system and good people to manage it. (Don't forget about the people aspect).
You can make your membership database SO valuable that you actually wanted to hug it! And, in turn, probably make some members want to hug YOU!