This is a two-part series that came out of a conversation with Shannan Reid from the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and how she transformed her chamber by instituting member marketing personas. In this first post, we’ll cover what marketing personas are, why they’re important, and how to begin crafting them. In part two, we’ll discover how she used the exercise to transform her chamber’s offerings.
Chambers often want to help every business. That’s a lot of content creation and many marketing messages. In trying to meet the needs of everyone, you run the risk of appealing to no one. Personalization is key to successful marketing and that’s where member marketing personas come in.
Member marketing personas help you better understand each type of member and what they need to reach their goals. In this article, we'll explore why marketing personas are so crucial for chambers of commerce and how they can make a substantial impact on engagement, recruitment, and member retention. Plus, as a bonus, we talked to the member persona guru--Shannan Reid from the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. She walked us through how she created member personas for her chamber.
Before delving into their importance, let's define what member marketing personas are. They are fictional representations of your ideal members or stakeholders, based on market research and data.
Creating personas is not something you guess at. You look at your current successful members and derive who they are. Examine demographic information, behaviors, goals, and pain points. These personas help you better understand your audience and tailor your outreach and services to meet their specific needs. When you can speak to someone as if you know them, it has a large impact on retention and recruitment. Plus, it will make your marketing efforts seem less like marketing and more like problem-solving and providing value
Marketing personas offer a lot of benefits to your chamber marketing strategy and organization including:
To effectively engage with your audience, you must first understand who they are and what motivates them. Member marketing personas provide a clear picture of your target audience, enabling you to craft messages, initiatives, and programs that resonate with them. For instance, if your research indicates that small business owners in your community value networking opportunities, you can create events and resources that cater to this need. You might draft a blog post on “How to Be a Great Networker” or host a monthly Business After Hours. By speaking directly to their interests and pain points, you're more likely to capture their attention and keep them engaged. They will feel like you “get” them.
Attracting new members is critical. Member marketing personas help streamline your recruitment efforts by focusing on the individuals or businesses most likely to benefit from chamber membership. With well-defined personas, you can target your marketing campaigns and outreach to focus on potential members who align with your chamber’s mission and values. This not only saves time and resources but also increases the likelihood of attracting committed, long-term members.
Conversely, it can help you understand who is not worth as much of your time. Time is one of your greatest resources, so you want to make sure you spend it wisely. For instance, if you only have time to talk to two potential members, wouldn’t you want to focus your efforts on the person who was most likely to join and thrive with the chamber?
Member retention is the other side of recruitment, and you probably spend a lot of time on it. You don’t want members leaving after only a year. Member marketing personas are valuable here too, as they allow you to continuously cater to the needs and preferences of your existing members. By staying attuned to their evolving interests and challenges, you can develop programs, events, and services that keep them engaged and satisfied. Personalized communications and offerings can make members feel valued and more likely to renew their memberships. Plus, they can help isolate things you can do for the members that they need and aren’t able to do for themselves.
We sat down with Shannan Reid to discuss how she worked with her board to create effective marketing personas at her chamber. These personas have changed how they recruit and retain members. Here are the steps she suggested:
Phase 1: Preliminary Research
Here’s some of the feedback Shannan’s board shared:
As Shannan described it, “Light bulbs were going off everywhere and great ideas for solutions were already stirring. After dismissal, most hung around for another 30 minutes discussing things in pockets. I had to run them out! I love seeing them energized.”
Phase 3: Matching Needs with Benefits
Additional things to consider:
Phase 4: Meeting Member Needs
Finally, after all the research and assessment, it’s time to take those identified gaps in what they need and what you offer and determine what benefits, activities, and value offerings should be developed going forward.
When it comes to retention and recruitment, understanding and connecting with your audience is paramount. Marketing personas provide a roadmap for effective engagement, recruitment, and member retention. By tailoring your efforts to the needs and preferences of your ideal members, you can create a stronger, more vibrant chamber that benefits both your organization and the local business community you serve. Invest the time and effort into creating and using marketing personas, and you'll undoubtedly reap the rewards of a more engaged and committed membership base.
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