Once upon a time, there was a member association…
In the magical realm of content marketing, storytelling wins as a powerful technique for capturing attention, creating emotional connections, and fostering engagement. It’s about going beyond simply conveying information about your benefits and instead crafting narratives that evoke specific emotions in your audience.
Member associations that can leverage the art of storytelling, are able to forge deeper and more meaningful connections with their members. More meaningful connections that result in sustainable loyalty and members renewing year after year.
Why? Because storytelling taps into our human desire for narrative and connection. By weaving stories into their content, member associations can evoke emotions, such as pride, aspiration, or even motivation, that resonate with their audience. Tapping into emotional resonance creates a sense of shared experience, making members feel understood and fostering a deeper connection.
Start from a place of authenticity and be genuine
Remember, authenticity and transparency should be at the core of your storytelling efforts. When creating content, it’s important to be genuine and true to your brand’s values and identity. Being transparent means openly sharing information about your association, particularly its values and mission, to build trust and credibility with your members.
To help with this, be sure you’ve developed these other key items:
- Association mission document along with key values. The values may require a new document run by the Board if they are not within your Bylaws.
- Member personas: Research and understand your target member’s needs, desires, and pain points. This understanding will help you tailor your storytelling to resonate with their emotions.
- Arsenal of relatable stories: Highlight real-life experiences, challenges, or successes that your association, industry or members have faced. Genuine testimonials and case studies create emotional connections and provide social proof of the benefit of membership. Plan into your content strategy to request and these stories from members at live and virtual events.
- Member journey: For most associations, I believe there are two actual member journeys to develop and maintain as resource. First, the typical journey they take from learning about the association to becoming a member and then becoming a renewing member that volunteers. The second journey I find helpful is the standard journey a member takes from a career in the industry. For example, engineering student to intern to professional to manager to retiree.
Powerful Components for Your Storytelling
Convey Association Values and Mission:
Storytelling offers a powerful vehicle for communicating the values and mission of member associations. Through compelling narratives, associations can illustrate how they have made a positive impact on their members’ lives or within their industry. Sharing stories of members’ successes, challenges overcome, or community initiatives helps reinforce the association’s purpose and values, further engaging members in its mission.
Personalize the Member Experience
Stories have the ability to personalize the member experience and make it more relatable. Member associations can showcase individual stories of their members, highlighting their unique journeys, achievements, or lessons learned. By featuring diverse member experiences, associations can foster inclusivity, demonstrate the value they provide to their members, and inspire others to become part of the community.
Share stories that demonstrate the expertise of your thought leaders. Association board members provide aspirational messaging and convey the deep value of membership when they share their insights and innovative approaches taken within working groups and committees. For more, I discuss this more in my article about showcasing leadership.
Leverage Different Content Formats
Storytelling can be implemented across various content formats to cater to different member preferences. Use written narratives in the form of blog posts, case studies, or newsletters like this sampling from the Association for Women in Science. Explore visual storytelling through videos, infographics, or photo essays like this Chamber of Commerce example. By using a mix of content formats, associations can cater to diverse member preferences and create a multi-dimensional storytelling experience.
Within these placements, plan into their layouts, room to spotlight member feedback and testimonials. For example, within a blog post, incorporate a short-form video of a member testimonial or two. Start including a “Member Spotlight” section to your email newsletter. By amplifying members’ voices, associations demonstrate their commitment to member satisfaction and showcase the tangible benefits of being part of the association. Members’ voices and experiences are invaluable storytelling assets.
Invite Member Contributions
Encouraging members to contribute their own stories can deepen engagement and empower them to be active participants in the association’s narrative. Member associations can create platforms for members to share their experiences, insights, or perspectives. This can be done through guest blogging, interactive discussion forums or creating a video booth at the annual conference to record members. Here’s an example of how the American College Health Association solicits testimonials from members, both individuals and organizations. By amplifying member contributions, you create a stronger sense of ownership among members, which is wonderful for student and first-year members to witness.
By sharing stories that highlight collaboration, support, and shared values, associations can foster a feeling of belonging and a really strong sense that “this is a community.” Feature stories that showcase members helping each other, celebrating milestones, or working together on projects. This sense of community encourages engagement, collaboration, and long-term loyalty.
Storytelling holds immense potential for associations to create a more meaningful connection with their members. By harnessing the power of storytelling, you can personalize the member experience, foster a sense of community, and deepen brand loyalty. Storytelling becomes an effective tool for engaging members and positioning the association as a trusted resource and advocate. Embrace the art of storytelling to transform your content marketing approach and build lasting connections with your members.