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News & Views

News and views from the team at SMS. If you have anything you would like posted here please let us know.

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  • 16 May 2017 8:45 PM | Anonymous

    P&Cs face demise as structures alienate younger members. P&Cs need to adapt to the changing nature of membership associations. Those that do will emerge stronger and more powerful than every before. It's time to focus on developing a powerful sense of purpose and developing ad hoc volunteering opportunities that cater to all parents (even those who don't have the time to show up).

  • 26 Apr 2017 10:10 PM | Anonymous

    When I started at AMAQ in 2013 our new members were being sourced through events and various non-member campaigns.  It is quite difficult to answer specifically where they were coming from as no detailed records tracking new member sources were kept at the time. 

    I had used the Member get Member concept in my previous roles and it had been very successful, so I brought it into my new role.

    To promote the campaign I developed these postcards (image 1) to give out to all new members and have them at all events.  They we so cheap to produce!

    The campaign was very simple.  We had banner advertising on our online news (image 2) and placed banner advertising on our non-member email campaigns.  The message was simple and the advertising matched this.  The visual is very easy to understand with a clear task and reward so the member knows exactly what they will receive when they refer another member.

    We have had the postcards on display at every event, including conferences where we exhibited. All the staff at AMA Queensland know about the member get a member campaign so they all know that when they attend the event to have the postcards on display.

    It did take a while for people to respond to the offer, at least 6 months from when I started. Fast forward, and over the last 12 months 31.5% of our new members are referred. 

    It probably took about 3-6 months for existing members to start becoming aware of the campaign.  It was advertised in every issue of Dr Q magazine and every enews that went out.  We still place the adverts on any spare space we have. We place the postcard in our renewal packs so that meant that every member was notified of this campaign.  I have members who call me and say “I have spoken to this Dr and he wants to join… and if they sign up I was their referral”.  It is common for members to do this. They give me the contact details to contact the non-member. 

    The other interesting aspect to this is we have new members who have been referred to us by non-members.  We then contact these non-members thanking them and ask them to re-join and they do. The number of non-member referees we receive continually surprises me.  These of course are handled differently.  Some don’t even realise their membership has lapsed.  We contact these people thanking them for the referral and we ask them to re-join.  We do offer them the same discount rate i.e. 25% etc. and they do re-join.  This is particularly rewarding for us.

    Our senior members are certainly very active in referring members to us which is great.  The majority of referrals have come from this segment.  Some of our senior doctor members refer junior doctors that they have been mentoring.

    26% of our referrals are from our junior members who are the millennials but over the last 12 months the referrals from this demographic have doubled.

    You have to understand what drives your members.  Members do say that fees are too high so the 25% discount off their fees is very appealing to them.  We do tell them that they can save money off their fees if they refer a colleague.

    When we receive a referral, we send a thank you letter to the member thanking them for their referral and advising them of their discount.  We also include a promotional product i.e. lens cloth cleaner.  It is important to say thank you each time someone is referred.  You have to nurture that relationship with the referrer and referee, as they are more likely to refer again.

    Importantly, all AMAQ staff supported this campaign, as did our Board and Council.  When I have run this campaign in previous roles I have never had any problem with people not being behind it.  People really do see the value.  Peer-to-peer referrals are always the best and that is because the referral came from someone they trust and respect.

    The other thing with this campaign is that we are now looking at rewarding both parties.  I did this in a previous role and it was quite successful.  I think you always have to review your campaigns and invigorate them to make them appealing to the members. I think this is our next exciting step.

    The member get a member campaign is not the solution to the challenges we face in membership recruitment but it is part of the solution.  Not every member is going to refer another member but when more than 30% of our members do, then we are very happy.  A referral program should be part all our recruitment portfolios.

    Leigh Holohan is the Membership Manager at the Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMAQ), a role she has held for 3 ½ years. Find Leigh on LinkedIn.

  • 26 Apr 2017 10:02 PM | Anonymous

    This year was my second time attending Social Media Marketing World (SMMW17) in San Diego. Arguably the world’s best social media conference, it certainly didn’t disappoint. I learnt so much that I’ve already bought my conference ticket for 2018!  This year there were five key themes:

    1.      Customer engagement and the customer experience

    By 2020 the vast majority of purchases will be decided by customer experiences, and social media plays a huge role in this. Customers (i.e. your members) have an increasingly influential voice, and one that many are not afraid to use. A growing number of your members and potential members expect your association to have an active social media presence, so they can engage with you online rather than picking up the phone or sending an email. Now is a good time to review your social media presence – how can you make it better?

    Don’t forget your staff. Make it easy for them to share your content on their personal social accounts, and encourage them to do so. We trust people more than we trust brands, so think about how you can get your members to trust your team.

    2.      Authenticity

    People do business with people they know, like and trust. How can you show your true voice and be more human across every engagement and comment you make? A few ways your association can be more authentic is to do what you promise, listen to your members and engage with them, be honest about your mistakes and own them, and be consistent with your messaging.

    3.      Video

    Video is growing faster than ever and live video provides a lot of opportunity to show your true authenticity. Video, and especially live video (via Facebook, Instagram, Periscope/Twitter and YouTube), allows people to get to have access to you, which means they get to know, like and trust you more.

    People don’t expect live video to be fancy or scripted or beautifully presented. Do it when you have something to say and worry less about what you look like.

    4.      Importance of storytelling

    Storytelling is essential, as people relate more to stories than they do to facts and numbers. Sharing your stories helps increase your authenticity.

    5.      Create content where you own it

    Consistently great content will stand the test of time, but be sure you create it where you own it – such as on a blog, podcast or video. Don’t make the mistake of only creating content on social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, as you have no control over who can see these – most Facebook posts only reach 2% of your audience. Your database is one of your most valuable assets – think about how you can use it more effectively to reach your members.

    For more information on how you can use social media more effectively in your association, contact Mel Kettle on 0404 600 889, or check her out on LinkedIn

  • 29 Mar 2017 2:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Australian College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP) is a young organisation with highly engaged members undertaking a journey from fledgling start-up to professional peak body. As with many modern-day professions, the Nurse Practitioner is quite new.  Many people – consumers – don’t know what nurse practitioners are, so greater awareness of the profession is needed. The nurse practitioner role originated in the US in the mid-1960s and began to gain recognition in Australia in 1990. We spoke to their CEO, Amanda Davis, about governance, Board challenges, and where to from here... read more

  • 29 Mar 2017 2:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We’re all aware of the changing demographics of our society, and the impact this will have on our organisations. For many member-based organisations this means creating relevance and value based on the problems experienced within different generations. For many organisations, a structured mentoring program offers a way to provide tangible value for members. For those more advanced in their careers it is an opportunity both to give back and to learn more about the challenges facing the younger generation. For young people, it is an opportunity to access one-on-one feedback and advice, and to establish networks within the industry. For the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) mentoring offered a solution to an even greater problem... read more


  • 29 Mar 2017 2:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There are certain stories that I hear time and again from not-for-profit employees, that make me wish I’d kept a tally from the beginning. There should be a loyalty card that gets me a free coffee for every 10th time I hear it.  The story goes like this … “I have a friend” “I put a business case to the Board to request funds to do a new/better/up-to-date/more member-centric/more customer-centric/etc website. I reviewed our current system, highlighted our priorities, assessed potential providers, and presented a plan to move forward. Then one of the Board members said ‘I have a friend that creates websites, s/he will be able to do it for you. Talk to them.’ What should I do?” Sound familiar? Check out nine questions to ask to prevent derailment … read more

  • 22 Mar 2017 10:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The business world has changed how it communicates, with social media becoming increasingly common.


    It seems that there is a bright new shiny social media channel or technology every second week. What we need to remember, is that at the heart, nothing should have changed. People still do business with people they know, like and trust. Service excellence and consistency of value are essential to business success.


    In this workshop Mel will help you understand what is real and what is smoke and mirrors when it comes to effective communication today. Check out the video to see what she'll be covering in the session. 



  • 26 Oct 2016 8:12 AM | Anonymous

    There is a distinct difference in the "tone" of communications between associations who are successfully engaging their members and those who are performing poorly. 

    Those doing poorly have a very transactional communications style. It is geared only to convey information in a bland and unengaging manner. Eg: Welcome to the association. Your membership number is #. Your password is #. 

    Those engaging well have a very warm, friendly and engaging communication style. Eg: Welcome to the association. We are looking forward to meeting you face to face and helping you to make the most of your membership. Speaking of which, there is an event coming up in your area next week. Would you like to come along so I can introduce you around to some of the other members? 

    When writing communications to members I picture a specific member in my head and then pretend I am writing the communication specifically to them. 

    I Also keep in mind is the outcome I am trying to achieve. Eg: If the purpose is to get the new member activating a portion of their membership, then my entire communication is geared to achieve that action. 

    What kind  of experience have you have with member communications?

  • 06 Jul 2016 7:59 PM | Anonymous

    This year has been a great one for association sponsorship seekers with some big deals coming through. There seems to be a real appetite from potential sponsors to engage in targeted partnerships designed to deliver specific outcomes for the sponsor, benefits for the member and a significant financial return for the association. Some of the deals coming through have included:

    • $150,000 revenue to a state based association from a financial services company.
    • $150,000 cash to state based association from a salary packaging company.
    • $100,000 cash to a national association from an electric vehicle provider.
    • $75,000 cash to a state based association from an international auditing company.
    • $45,000 to a national association from NASA.
    • $25,000 to a very small national association from educational group travel.
    • $25,000 to a very small national association from a technology company.

    The Australian election uncertainty, the UK BREXIT result and the ongoing American election dramas have had an impact. We are now seeing many corporates engaging in partnerships taking longer to make their decisions and often making the decision to move ahead at the last moment. Anecdotal feedback suggests this trend is as a direct result of the global uncertainty in the political sphere at the current time.


    Those who have been successful in securing sponsorship, whether large or small organisations, have had a few common success factors: 

    • Understanding the outcome the sponsor is seeking to achieve - A willingness to understand the sponsors needs and target a package appropriately (often just asking the question “What outcome do you want achieve with this partnership” can open up a very fruitful conversation),
    • An innovative approach - An innovative approach that avoids offering dull and generally worthless “opportunities” such as “we will put your logo on our website”.
    • An engaging person selling the sponsorship - An engaging, personable person selling the sponsorship who is genuinely interested in building a good relationship with the sponsor (rather than then just making the sale) and generating positive outcomes for all parties – members, the association, and the sponsor.

    Julian Moore, Australasia’s top not-for-profit sponsorship practitioner, specialises in charities, associations and other non-profits. He draws on his extensive experience in both Australia and Europe to deliver exceptional sponsorship outcomes for his clients. His work includes in-house coaching and training; Board briefings, keynote speaking and ad hoc consultancy. Julian is an accomplished and entertaining speaker who presents regularly at events. Whether through his presentations or consultancy, Julian focuses on providing practical and useful ideas that can be implemented immediately to start benefiting your organisation.

  • 06 Jul 2016 7:55 PM | Anonymous

    The most successful membership organisations are those who clearly demonstrate their passion for their cause, industry, profession, and/or trade in both word and action. They are committed to their purpose and work hard to provide tangible benefits and positive outcomes to the members they serve. Over the next couple of months, I will be showcasing the member engagement strategies used by different types of member-based organisations including - Unions, Industry Bodies, Professional Associations and Charities.

    This month we start our series with a look at the Electrical Trades Union Victoria’s highly successful member engagement strategy …

    Electrical Trades Union Victoria

    The Electrical Trades Union Victoria, led by State Secretary Troy Gray, are unusual because they have experienced a consistently high retention (mid-high 90s) for well over 10 years and have over 94% penetration into their core member segment at a time where many other unions are suffering from declining participation rates.

    While there are undoubtedly a number of reasons for this, a significant factor would be the high level of personal engagement they have with their members. The degrees to which they become personally involved in their member’s lives is something rarely seen in professional and industry associations. A member of the union is seen as part of the family and the support of the union goes well beyond the industrial action they are most well-known for in the public forum. Some of their member engagement strategies include: 

    • Showing empathy at important times for a member – For example, when a member has a baby they send a congratulatory basket to the family (with an ETU branded jumpsuit).
    • Showing direct support for the families of members – For example, if a member’s children are members of a sporting club, they can access up to $1,000 via the ETU grants program to support that club.
    • Being tangibly “there” to support a member during tough times – For example, if a member dies, or if a member falls on hard times, then the union will often step in the provide financial support to the partner.
    • Showing appreciation and recognition to members for their support and length of that service – After 10 years of membership, members are given a badge and certificate of appreciation signed by the State Secretary, showing their years of membership.  Members continue to receive these badges and certificates for every additional five years of service.
    • Rewarding members who pay their membership in full prior to year end – Each year members who pay their membership in full prior to year end receive a 10% discount. While discounting is not always appropriate it is quite effective for this market. Especially combined with the opportunity to win a Nissan Qashqai (this year the winner was a 39 year member of the ETU).
    • Clear, decisive advocacy campaigns that create tangible positive outcomes for members - Perhaps the most compelling engagement strategy used by the ETU Victoria is the passion that the leadership of the union shows for the members – and the way that passion is demonstrated in clear, decisive campaigns designed to achieve a positive outcome for members.


    Belinda Moore is Australasia’s leading membership specialists and has worked with a large number of associations, charities and other non-profit organisations to assist them with their membership challenges. She specialises in training, motivating and up-skilling boards, staff and volunteers to improve membership performance. She is the author of two books including "The Membership Machine" and "Membership Fundamentals". More recently she authored the popular paper "Membership is Dead?". Belinda is an experienced presenter and arrives on the platform armed with an array of topics relating to membership. Revealing insights from her personal and professional experiences, she ensures that participants walk away with practical ideas and insights that can immediately be applied.

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