Lunchtime Links: Take Your Conversations Back-Channel

Why private conversations can prove just as useful as the ones you have in public. Also: Why asking softly may get you further than going full-pitch.

When you’re off-the-record, you’re way more likely to speak up about what’s really on your mind than you might if you’re out in public.

(As a journalist, I know a thing or two about this.)

How can you leverage this among your members? That and more in today’s Lunchtime Links:

Keep the back-channel in mind: Don’t just think in terms of public conversation—private chats are extremely important too, says NTEN Membership Director Amy Sample Ward. Among the benefits? The ability to gather real-time feedback: “Offering a back-channel to talk to you means when those situations arise, you don’t have to watch the comments and guess about what’s happening—people can email, direct message, or even call you to let you know that things aren’t as they should be. That’s not to say that sometimes people don’t voice that opinion publicly, but there are always going to be topics where the voices or the subject matter are such that those that don’t agree actually feel like they shouldn’t pipe up, and you’ll want to know when a conversation in your community gets to that point.” What efforts have you made to encourage the back-channel?

Don’t be afraid to ask … softly: Recently, SCD Group’s Steve Drake caught wind of musician Amanda Palmer’s great TED talk on asking about something just the right way. That same day, he saw it in action, via a letter from his chiropractor, who offered advice so to help prevent a trip to the office … but softly suggested that (just in case you needed it) to stop by the office. “The chiropractor gives suggestions to avoid an office visit but closes with the ask to visit the office if your pain continues,” he notes. He extends this thinking to the way we talk to association members: “Perhaps it’s time for you to review the timing and character of your membership recruitment and retention materials,” he notes. How are you mastering the soft ask in your membership materials?

Work on generating those leads: On his Membership Marketing Blog, Marketing General’s senior vice president, Tony Rossell, notes that search engine marketing can do wonders as far as targeting just the people you want as your members. Using a product such as a whitepaper, an e-newsletter, or a webinar, you can help target someone who’s interested in your product and use the process to help cultivate the membership. And you can track each moment, too. “From the initial click to the final join each step the prospect takes can be tracked through the process,” he explains. “Effectively the fingerprints of the prospect are left each step along the way from the ad that was initially clicked, to the follow up emails, to the submission of a member application.”

What’s on your reading radar today? Tell us about it in the comments.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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