Membership Pro Tip: An Easy Way to Spur Innovation

Need some help coming up with different ways to engage members? Create a swipe file for inspiration to help you think outside the box.

Generating new ideas quickly became a necessity last spring. It was not enough to rely on standard methods of engaging members, like creating a better marketing strategy, to manage tough times. “Marketing’s not a fix if you don’t have value,” said Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO of Avenue M Group.

To go beyond marketing, organizations need to analyze the channels they use to engage members. “You have to think about it and brainstorm,” she said. Jacobs recommends a “swipe file” exercise to encourage finding solutions beyond the usual strategies.

How Does It Work?

A swipe file is a place to store great ideas that catch your eye, inspire you, and motivate you to think about things differently. If you see something that grabs your attention, like an exciting ad campaign for a new product, then add it to the swipe file.

She suggests choosing “awesome products” you would actually buy and that you need. “The same as members coming to your association,” she said. After creating a swipe file, then meet and talk with your team about why those items stood out.

Why Is It Effective?

Discussing great ideas from the swipe file motivates staff to look at different ways to engage with members. Even if you don’t have the resources to implement the great ideas, talking about them and thinking about them spurs more ways to expand beyond existing markets. “Put away all resource constraints, and once you come up with the big ideas, then come back and assess what’s realistic to implement,” she said.

What’s the Benefit?

 A swipe file spurs more innovation and encourages people to look for new solutions and ways to do things that will provide more value to members. “That’s how organizations need to expand,” Jacobs said. “You have to step away from what you’ve done traditionally.”

Do you have a membership pro tip? Please share in the comments or send me an email.


(DNY59/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Lisa Boylan

By Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!