More Join Buttons, and Other Lessons From MMCC 2016

Amazon's persistence in driving users to "Try Prime" is a lead associations ought to follow and just one of many highlights from this week's ASAE Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference.

No one wants to create a wave, but everyone wants to ride one.

Drawing business lessons from is, to say the least, not new. But, as a constantly growing and innovating company, Amazon warrants continuing attention.

In other words, if you haven’t looked lately at what Amazon is doing, now is a good time to look again. Particularly at its membership program, Amazon Prime.

In a Learning Lab Monday at ASAE’s 2016 Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference (MMCC) in Washington, DC, presenters Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE, president of Avenue M Group, and consultant Lowell Aplebaum, CAE, showed attendees a variety of ways in which Amazon is perfecting the membership model (for retail, at least). Here are just a few examples:

  • One killer benefit. Free two-day shipping is the top reason customers join Prime, and Amazon doesn’t pretend otherwise. Its full list of 17 member benefits for Prime (yeah, I didn’t know there were that many, either) are listed way down at the bottom of the page about Prime membership. At the top is info about free shipping and Prime’s access to streaming television and movies.
  • Constant refer-a-friend offers. Amazon doesn’t run periodic “member get a member” campaigns. Instead, it has two standing offers: Refer a friend to Prime membership and earn $5, and “give the gift of Prime,” which comes with no incentives but which Amazon makes very easy.
  • Join buttons galore. Visit Amazon as a nonmember and “Try Prime” buttons and links show up at every turn. And they’re presented in different ways, with different appeals. Mouse over one, and a pop-up bubble touts free shipping. Mouse over another, and an ad for Prime streaming TV and movies appears. And on every product page, the user sees “Yes, I want FREE two-day shipping with Amazon Prime” right above the Add to Cart button.

Elsewhere at #MMCCon:

Multiply your content marketing. For associations that feel overwhelmed with the prospect of generating the volume of content necessary for successful inbound membership marketing, Callie Walker at Memberclicks shared her strategy in a Tuesday Learning Lab. The trick is to start with a big content resource, she says—an in-depth article, white paper, e-book, etc.—and then break it into multiple related pieces, such as short blog posts, infographics, videos, tweets, and so on. These can then be spread out over time and across multiple channels.

Link your membership to-do list with strategy. Part of the reason ASAE hosts a conference for marketing, membership, and communications professionals simultaneously is that those roles so often intersect and overlap, and in many small-staff associations they’re all wrapped up in one person. For MMC pros who serve as a department of one, Kesha Willis, CAE, marketing and communications manager at the Society of Breast Imaging, says there’s always more to do than can realistically be done. Willis’ advice in a Monday Learning Lab was to take direction specifically from the association’s stated mission and strategy. That way, she says, you’ll have a clear set of criteria for prioritizing your membership goals and operations.

Work toward both membership breadth and depth. Natalie Sherry, membership manager at the Credit Union National Association, told the story of CUNA’s recent Gold Circle Award-winning “All In” membership campaign to attendees at her Learning Lab on Monday. The campaign leveraged CUNA’s data on participation rates in its six professional councils and encouraged member credit unions to enroll at least one staff member in all six councils. The goals at the outset for the campaign were two-fold, Sherry says: both expanding the number of credit unions participating in any council (breadth) and growing the number of councils that existing members were engaged in (depth). The results were positive for both, she says.

Bag the elephant. Finally, closing keynote speaker Brian Bordainick, CEO of Dinner Lab, told attendees the lessons he learned through founding 9th Ward Field of Dreams in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He led a successful effort to build a high school football stadium in the area, which was initially considered impossible. Through persistence and luck, however, he landed a $100,000 donation from Nike, which changed everything. Donations and attention then began pouring in, and Bordainick says the lesson stuck that “bagging the elephant” (i.e., earning an initial large contribution) is crucial to getting any kind of collaborative effort off the ground. “No one wants to create a wave, but everyone wants to ride one,” he says. That’s great advice for any association looking to build member engagement from the ground up.

The conference wrapped up Tuesday afternoon, but you can explore the attendee conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, or check out conference handouts at the MMCC website. If you were there, what membership, marketing, and communications lessons stood out to you? What will you be most excited put into action back at the office? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Joe Rominiecki

By Joe Rominiecki

Joe Rominiecki, manager of communications at the Entomological Society of America, is a former senior editor at Associations Now. MORE

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