Easy Ways to Turn Members into Ambassadors

By Emily Hendershot • June 26, 2019

Every year associations invest plenty of time and money into building an engaging marketing plan to attract and retain members to our organizations. So how do we maximize our impact with potential members to achieve growth and brand awareness?

Turn members into ambassadors

A powerful way to do this is by turning members into ambassadors. As more brands are using influencer marketing to endorse their products and services, associations can utilize their members as ambassadors to promote benefits and offerings. Your members have the connections and credibility to help advance your mission by engaging more prospects. By sharing their experiences with your organization, these members give their networks a clear picture of how they have succeeded within the organization and workplace.

It’s no secret the conversation around membership value and benefits has quickly turned to how to use storytelling and testimonials to showcase the member experience. Our stakeholders can be effective ambassadors in sharing the mission and benefits of our organizations by personalizing our efforts and providing visibility into why associations do what we do. This increases credibility within the industries we serve and helps transform prospects into engaged members.

Here are three things associations can do right now to set your members up for success when sharing about their involvement with your organization:

Keep your message clear and consistent.

Make it easy for people to repeat who you are and what you do by highlighting your ideal message(s) often. Review your organization’s tagline, homepage messaging (above the fold), social media profile descriptions, and any leading speaking points. If they are all different, consider updating each place with similar content so your main message is strong and impactful. Seeing and hearing the same content will help them begin to use it in their own conversations about your organization. Highlight the message often so they will too.

Use onboarding as brand ambassador training.

When onboarding new board members, volunteers or staff, add ambassador training as part of the process. By sharing key messaging with vital stakeholders during this time, you help everyone affiliated with your organization know the same speaking points. This portion of onboarding could include helping them practice their “elevator speech” or sharing a positioning statement and key points you want them to use when speaking with the public and members. The idea is not to restrict what is said, but rather to enhance it by pairing brand speaking points with personal stories about their involvement.

Collect more testimonials.

Create more opportunities for members to share tidbits about their professional journey and how your organization has impacted their career. You can set up space at your annual meeting to ask for video, audio or written testimonials. You could also create a form or thread on your website or social media pages where members can submit their stories. Ask leading questions to ensure the most important elements of their experience are captured. A good framework is to ask:

    • What was your career like before becoming a member?
    • What have you been able to achieve since becoming a member?
    • What advice would you give someone who is considering membership?

When you share these questions ahead of time, be sure to include your main messages so they use similar phrasing in their testimonial. For example, if a main part of your association’s mission is to help members advance their professional development through educational programming, you might ask:

  • How has participation in ABC Association’s evidence-based online courses enabled you to advance your career?

By using this framework, you are helping people understand their experience and how to express it. Use highlights from testimonials for resources that attract and engage potential members. Not only will you have additional content to feature with current members, you will also have a stronger advocate in your excited, loyal member who is proud to be featured and willing to share more with their network.

Members are influential, often untapped, resources who help advance associations’ visibility. By providing them with necessary and convenient tools and coaching them to become effective ambassadors, you are engaging an invaluable resource to advocate and recruit on your behalf. When people see members’ excitement about your mission, their passion will spark interest and drive prospects to join your association and contribute to your community’s impact.

About The Author

Emily Hendershot is a results-driven community strategist and operations consultant who enjoys equipping and empowering organizations to achieve their missions and thrive in ever-evolving industries. She’s a seasoned team leader with Nova Strategies with 10+ years of progressive association and nonprofit leadership experience. She loves building strong collaborative relationships and partnerships to help organizations strategize efforts, streamline processes, train volunteers, and grow their membership base.