The ‘Secret Sauce’ of Member Engagement: Part One

By Bobby Peralta posted 21-05-2023 11:14


In the membership lifecycle framework, member engagement is in between member recruitment and member retention. For me, it’s the most challenging task of an association professional.

If you imagine the work (and challenges) involved in the membership aspect of association management to be that of a diamond-shaped figure, then member engagement will be at the center and the biggest area.

Member engagement actually starts during prospecting and accelerates when a member joins. It must be sustained during membership; otherwise, retaining the member will be difficult. (For more on member engagement, please refer to my column of March 15, 2017

I was excited to learn more on the subject from Amanda Lea Kaiser, member engagement speaker and strategist at U.S.-based Kaiser Insights LLC and author of Elevating Engagement: Uncommon Strategies for Creating Thriving Member Communities. Here are my key takeaways from Amanda’s recent presentation at a session organized by the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE):

1. Engagement is getting harder. People are busy. In fact, they are getting busier and busier than before. In the context of associations, all the members that you are trying to engage with, feel exactly the same way. They are busy at work, at home, and at every slice of life between those two places. This busyness, this universal lack of time, is changing the nature of engagement.

2. There is a new formula for engagement. Given this new time-strapped reality, there is need for a new mindset to engage members. Amanda’s formula is simple: Engagement = Value + Experience. Most associations are incredibly focused on value. They mostly assume that value is synonymous with engagement. But there’s another whole element to leverage on: experience.

Experiences trigger emotions, and emotions start the engagement engine. Members will be more willing to engage when they feel the organization is, among others, friendly, warm, kind, open, and generous. Experiences warm new members up so they can begin to perceive the value the association has to offer them.

I found this quote in the article, “Logic vs. Emotions: Which is Better” by Marc Shulman in the Long Island Philosophy website: “Logic is, by default, a method of making decisions that uses sound and rational decision-making to find the best conclusion. Emotions, on the other hand, are true feeling. If logic is the brain, emotion is the heart, and the heart is where happiness is…love and embrace your emotions, but have a strong sense of logic as well.”

So this is why Amanda’s formula works as it combines both logic (value) and emotion (experience)—the “secret sauce” of member engagement.

This article was published by the Business Mirror on April 28, 2022 and may not be reproduced without prior consent from the writer and Business Mirror.

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