Part Three. Content and Design.
In our last blog, we looked at data and ways in which to segment this to personalise content for your members. In this instalment, yep, you’ve guessed it, we’re looking at the content and design aspects of a membership pack.
The content is the packs your members receive, the written and visual communications across your sites, and emblazoned across your team t-shirt. Content needs careful planning throughout your membership cycles to keep your members engaged. Referring to your data, you can spot trends and marry them to your communication releases to measure responses.
We all like to receive post. It’s a refreshing change from an email – it’s exciting! Tearing open a beautifully presented pack crammed full of membership goodies and benefits is like a second birthday. It's tailored especially for you (from all that lovely data!).
Pen to Paper
Written communications need careful consideration. They will travel across many platforms, so your message needs to be consistent. Engaging copy that is to the point, with the right tone and not too wordy is the goal. People have become ‘speed readers’ and will flit across long paragraphs, missing out the juicy details.
Your content can be generic or personalised. Generic can be used as a blanket send out to the masses such as social postings, or a mass flyer send out to all members. It doesn’t need to be personalised and can be used as a net to attract new members. Personalised content is just that – for the member. It is more polished. It isn’t just their name on a card; it is measured and targeted to ensure the recipient has the relevant information that interests them. Each piece must have up to date information and be relevant to your member – it’s no good sending out comms for a beginners training course when the member is advanced. Always start with your data!
When writing for renewals, forward plan and stagger the releases. These will also act as reminders on the run-up to the renewal date.
Don’t forget to proofread, proofread, proofread! Nothing screams unprofessional like a pack that arrives with typos. Check text throughout the design phase and remember to include a call to action where necessary – you want your members to interact with you.
Pack Contents and Benefits
Most of the packs we process at Synergy include:
A welcome letter – always! This is the first thing on your list to add to a pack. It is personal, a handshake, the warm hello. Most packs have a written letter. Some have a generic layout with fields to be personalised and others have the letter written on a card.
Membership card – these can be plastic, Eco or digital. With the highlight on reducing single use plastics, some clients have given new members the option of not receiving a card or have moved to Eco-friendly cards and digital options. Digital membership cards have risen in popularity recently. Members can download the ‘cards’ to their digital device.
Certificates – half of the packs we process contain certificates.
Incentive like a pin badge or novelty item. Gifts tend to be in the packs for new joiners. Renewal packs tend to lean towards the benefits of the membership.
Speaking of incentives, we all love a good freebie in a membership pack. The gift only makes up a small part of this, but the incentive needs to be relevant and useful. Is there something special you could offer that is relevant to the membership type? The promotions market is brimming with gifts that could be branded in your company logos: from pop up coffee cups to keyrings, air fresheners, and mints. It's easy to get carried away with all the goodies but don’t forget, you are confined to the size of a letterbox and you need to keep within budget.
Benefits are what you offer your members to support them in their careers or interests such as a specialised knowledge hub, helplines, and resources. Benefits can help professional credibility and connect your members to a wider community. Events, discounts, and insurances all count as benefits. Stay abreast of developments your members are interested in to keep your benefits relevant.
A few questions to ask yourself when thinking about benefits:
What attracts new members to you?
What makes you special?
Why should they sign up with you?
What can you do to make your members' life easier?
What can you do to make it easier to renew? For example, include a renewal form and direct debit form in their packs or offer online renewal by using their mobile phone to scan a code on their letters that takes them to a renewal page.
Can the members connect with the benefits offered?
If sign-ups and renewals have dropped, the members are no longer engaged, and this could be a result of the benefits you offer. Step back and listen to what your members want. They will be very vocal if they are unhappy and some will head to social media to vent frustrations.
Did they miss your comms? Find out why they haven’t renewed with gentle reminders. Consider changing your tone if the membership is required for their job, for example, Managers, Officials, etc. Highlight what they may be missing out on, such as exclusive benefits and reasons for membership. It is beneficial to include a questionnaire to establish why they haven’t renewed. This data can be key to discovering gaps and what you can change to retain members in the future.
People engage with visual content because it’s easier to remember and understand. Our brains process images faster than text. An image is more likely to be liked and shared online too. Visuals are incredibly effective when teamed with an appropriate message.
The design offers endless possibilities to “wow” your members. Rethink the drab, white rectangular envelope – fill those letterboxes with shapes and colour! If you are bored of looking at the same images, chances are your members might be feeling the same. Give your pack an overhaul. Keep it fresh, on-brand and in keeping with your values. Your membership pack needs to have a strong, clear style to communicate your benefits and project a belonging to your organisation.
You can go to town with your design. It doesn’t stop with images; it extends to how the pack is presented. You don’t have to stick to a stuffed envelope – postal boxes, bags, tubes, foldouts all make for a unique pack. Anything is possible in print!
But there is too much to choose from!
Your welcome packs are your big opportunity to show value to your member once a year - yes, you do this regularly, but this is the big one. The member knows what they paid to join, and they want to be reminded why they should continue. Membership organisations have no right to this revenue but nor can they cannot rest on their laurels either. Even professional membership organisations (where members need to stay a member because of the need for professional accreditation) need to act as if they have no right to that money – it must be earned! It's all about what you can do for them over the next 12 months.
Welcome and renewal packs are so important - they need to convince or re-convince the member that they did the right thing joining/renewing and with so many options available it can be difficult to find the right fit. That’s where we come in. With over 20 years’ experience working with membership organisations, we know what will work for you, while keeping bang on the budget. Get in touch with us to discuss your pack and we’ll get to work – from the data to the design, the content to the mailing. We’ll have it all wrapped up in a jiffy.