Membership organisations and online marketing

10:37 am Email Communications

As Chamber of Commerce members we recently received an email shot from a member company, sent out to the whole membership base, with everyone’s details in the ‘To’ field (instead of bcc’d or set up in a list).

The company made amends by sending an apology and a follow up.  That follow up didn’t say a lot but had an attachment (PDF) introducing the company.

Intrigued at how it could be possible to make two obvious mistakes, I looked at the company website (I won’t embarrass them here by naming who they are) and it was a one pager that did nothing to sell their merits.

I went to LinkedIn to find the person who had sent the email.  They have 6 connections and haven’t even set up their profile.

I searched Google for phrases related to their business sector – no sign of them in any shape or form, even within the free opportunities.

As members of the Chamber, companies are entitled to do sendouts to the membership base and although the Chamber (this could apply to any membership organisation) do provide a little bit of guidance, surely they should have something more stringent in place?   Surely the person who wants access to the membership list should have a check list that they’re supposed to tick off, that includes:

  1. How to send the email so that all recipients aren’t identified so blatantly.
  2. Creation of an email that contains the introductory information (rather than an attachment, which most people won’t look at).
  3. Having a website that’s worth promoting (just the basics like client case studies, testimonials, etc.).
  4. Having a LinkedIn profile that is at least to an adequate level and so doesn’t make them look like an amateur.

It would take a membership organisation a relatively small amount of time to create such a check list, giving links to other reference points where people can find out more (e.g. a link to a LinkedIn profile setup guide).   The company wanting to do the email out would confirm that they’re in agreement with what’s on the check list and that they have taken actions accordingly.  Only then do they get access to the membership list.

Taking that recent example, the outcomes are:

  • The Chamber of Commerce look poor for not having stronger systems in place.
  • The company who sent the email look poor for being so unaware of how to market themselves properly.

Maybe this is just the experience from the local Chamber and other Chambers of Commerce (or membership organisations in general) do it in a different way, so it’d be interesting to get any feedback on any shining examples of excellence?

2 Responses

  1. Jonathan Gwyer Says:

    Oh, how familiar this sounds!

    I was a member of the Chamber in the days they were just thinking about allowing email marketing – only a couple of years ago! There were promises of how strictly it was going to be monitored.

    Instead, at that time, one of the big advantages to membership was a mailing list of the other members. My membership certainly made our postman busier.

    My particular favourite was having to go to the sorting office and pay a surcharge, all because that particular piece of junk mail had been sent in an A4 envelope with an A5 stamp.

    What a way to make an impression on your fellow members!

    Turned out my Chamber membership was the most expensive desk diary I ever bought. Now, if you want to join something that’s going to give you some serious results, well that would have to BNI :)

  2. admin Says:

    That reminds me – I had a note to pick up a letter from the sorting office and having been caught out before (you can tell by the charge due they leave on the collection card) I didn’t pick it up. Then got the call from the Chamber saying that I hadn’t paid next years membership.

    “Did you send the renewal by post by any chance?” was my question. And they had – in an A4 envelope. The post office must rub their hands in glee when they see hundreds of such letters all going out from the same organisation.

    They were pretty good at sending an email version though. I was quite impressed that it didn’t also get emailed to the whole membership base. ;-)

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