If Your Organization Doesn’t Increase Membership After Reading This Article, You Have My Permission to Beat Me With a Ball Peen Hammer

You can’t force people to join your organization.

Not legally, that is.

Don’t get any ideas.

What you can do is increase the probability that people will join – simply by making yourself, your people and your organization more joinable.

That means new approaches are required. And if you want to reach the people who matter, consider this counterintuitive suggestion:

Instead of getting people to join you – try joining them first.

Earlier this year I wrote about How to Make Your Organization More Joinable than a Megan Fox Fan Club. Today we’re going to explore six ways to join people first:1. Figure out why people are. It doesn’t matter what people do for a living – it only matters why they do it. That’s what defines people. That’s what drives them to contribute.

And if you want to join people first, I suggest you touch the center of their why. Even if it’s as simple as asking them, “Why do you do what you do?”

You’d be amazed how telling this question is. And the cool part is, once you have their answer, you can connect their why to the organization you represent.

For example, my friend Doug lives and breathes technology. In fact, few people I know are more resourceful when it comes to leveraging technology to make group communication clearer, faster and more relaxing.

But, I only know this because I inquired about Doug’s why. Because I actively petitioned to get know him at his core. And as a result, I was able to find the perfect spot for him on our board of directors. Our organization would never be the same without him. Are you getting in people’s heads or trying on people’s hearts?

2. Involvement isn’t something you can force upon people. People always make time for what’s important to them. Which means, if they aren’t joining your organization, it might not be your fault. It might have nothing to do with you.

Maybe Saturday morning is a terrible time for them to attend chapter functions because their kids have soccer practice.

Or, maybe they’re just out of college and can’t commit to weekly board meetings because they’d rather go to happy hour with their friends.

It doesn’t mean they don’t like you – it just means they have different priorities. In the book Brains on Fire, my friend Robbin Phillips writes about this very idea, “It’s not about how customers fit into your marketing plan – but rather about how you fit into their lives.”

Try this: Instead of assuming people are apathetic, uncommitted heathens, ask them how your organization might become a part of their schedule.

Then, once you’ve gathered consensus, consider alternating your organization’s activity schedule to accommodate a diverse group of member priorities. Are you starting with the customer in mind or just starting with the customer?

3. Hang on their home turf. As the president of my professional association, my recruiting efforts usually include breaking bread with potential members. I’d take that over a phone call any day. I guess I’m just not a hard sell kind of guy.

I’d rather meet people for lunch at their office or in their neighborhood. In my experience, that’s a better window into their world. That’s a smoother transition from “How are you?” to “Who are you?”

Occasionally, I might even have dinner at a prospective joiner’s home. That’s the big win: When I meet their families. Eat their food. Hang on their turf. And we might talk about joining – we might not.

The point is to meet people where they are. Literally. Sure beats sitting on your ass with crossed fingers and high hopes. Whose home turf could you visit this week?

4. Learn people’s learning styles. Not everyone needs to come to the Sunday service. Maybe they’re Wednesday night small group discussion people. Maybe they’re homebodies who’d rather listen to the audio recording of the sermon online while drinking coffee in their bed with their dogs.

Doesn’t make them any less of a member. It just means they process information differently. And only when you understand these preferences can you tailor your messages (and the media through which they’re delivered) accordingly.

Naturally, I’m not just talking about congregations. These principles apply to all member-based organizations. Take my professional association. Last year they started publishing their monthly audio newsletter as a podcast on iTunes.

Finally. Good lord. If I had to open another stupid compact disc shrink wrapped to my magazine, I was going to kill somebody.

The cool part is, because of the increasing population of members under forty, my organization significantly increased their listenership. How many potential members are you alienating because your message isn’t tuned into their frequency?

5. Less outreach, more inbreak. In the pivotal book Jim and Casper Go to Church, I learned the difference between “outreaching,” which is inviting people to join your group, and “inbreaking,” which is joining an existing community action.

According to my friend and occasional mentor Jim Henderson:

“We can find out what groups in our community are already doing to make life better for people and join them. Rather than start groups, we could join their groups. Rather than join groups to convert people, we could join them to connect with and serve people.”

Try this: Consider the types of members you hope to attract. What groups are they already a part of? What role in the community do they currently occupy? Create a gameplan to take a more active role in those spaces. People will notice.

Remember: Your members shouldn’t have to adjust to you. You need to adapt for them. Whose life are you willing to become a part of?

6. Discover their desired way to contribute. Instead of laying a guilt trip on potential members for not devoting every waking moment of their life to your organization, try asking them how they’d like to contribute.

After all, that’s why people join: To give back. To add value to others, to the organization and to the world.

The trick is, not everyone contributes the same way. Personally, I despise meetings. They are the bane of my existence. And I refuse to waste my valuable (and billable) time sitting around a table with seven people trying to figure out whose house the Christmas party is going to be held at this year.

Fortunately, the groups I’m a board member of are smart enough not to ask me to attend meetings.

On the other, I love to write. Actually, that’s an understatement: Writing isn’t just my occupation – it’s my religion. And any time I’ve taken a volunteer position, I’ve always offering my pen as the principle instrument of my contribution.

Need a newsletter article? Need a blog post? Need a welcome letter to new members? No problem. I’m your man.

Your challenge is to dive into the lives of the people around. To join them by discovering and honoring their desired way to contribute. Do so, and you’ll be surprised what they’re willing to give to your organization. How are you helping people help you?

7. Find out what joining looks like to them. Everybody joins differently. A single guy in his thirties approaches joining a group differently than retired widower in her sixties. And if you’ve read Bowling Alone, you know that some people aren’t even joiners at all.

Therefore: If your organization seeks to reach a diverse group of new members, you have to go out of your way to find out how people prefer to join. Without this information, your outreach efforts fall on deaf ears.

I don’t care if have the greatest organization in the world. If you’re leaving voicemail messages on a college student’s land line, odds are she will never, ever call you back. You may as well be winking in the dark.

The reality is, some people just want to pay their dues, show up to five meetings a year and get on with their lives.

They’re never going to volunteer.
They’re never going win member of the year.
They’re never going to spearhead the party planning committee.

No matter how many board members nominate them.

As a leader, you need to be okay with this reality. Stop compartmentalizing people into convenient little personality boxes and just let them join as they see fit. Are you preaching to the atheists?

REMEMBER: There are people out there just dying to join you.

And they will.

As long as you’re willing to join them first.

Whom did you join last week?

For the list called, “62 Types of Questions and Why They Work,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

You can’t spell M-A-R-K-E-T-I-N-G without the word…

I heart anagrams.

I posted last year about anagramming the word “attraction.

Kind of a neat experiment. Came out pretty cool.

So, let’s do another one today:

You can’t spell M-A-R-K-E-T-I-N-G without the word…

Art. Because it IS an art. And a science. And a practice. All of the above. How many marketing books did you read this month?

Gent. Be kind and respectful. Just like a proper gentleman. Your marketing will never fail. (Unless your product is unremarkable and people hate it.) How are you currently disrespecting your customers?

Gnat. Don’t be annoying. Make music; not noise. Interact; don’t interrupt. Be the Gent that you are and stop “following up” so damn much. If they want you, they’ll hire you. Are you the constant buzz in your customer’s ear that’s driving them crazy?

Grant. Permission, that is. Permission to be your unique self and shout that from the rooftops. Best marketing advice I ever got. What part of your Personal Truth are you afraid to incorporate into your marketing plan?

Great. Which, if you think about it, isn’t that great. Sure, it’s better than Good. But even great only goes so far. You job is to be AWESOME. To literally fill people with awe. Is your marketing making people gasp?

Ink. If you’re not getting published in print, you’re in trouble. And by that I mean “your articles,” “articles ABOUT you,” and “articles QUOTING” you. Why don’t you have a media room on your website?

Irk. That’s what will happen if people keep hearing FROM you, and not ABOUT you. Whom are you annoying?

Kart. If you’re spelling the name of your products, services, or, God Forbid, your company name with a superfluous “K,” “Ph,” “Z,” I’m sorry, but your marketing sucks. Is Koffee Krazy REALLY the best name you could think of?

Kin. Your family, who loves you more than anyone, will constantly try to get you business. It will NEVER pan out. “A woman I met at the salon is going to call you,” your mother says. No, Mom, she’s not. She’s never going to call. She’s never going to hire me. She was just being nice because you were gushing about your son and she didn’t want to hurt your feelings. Thank you anyway. I still love you! How many leads in your pipeline are total wastes of time?

King. And another thing. If you have the word “King,” in your company name, you’re out of your mind. Why didn’t you hire Brains on Fire instead of having your fifteen year-old nephew, Caleb, create your brand identity?

Manger. That’s where the greatest marketer in the history of mankind was born. And all he did was listen, ask questions, love everybody, forgive everybody and serve according to his purpose. Whom are you imitating?

Met. As in, “meet.” How many people did you go out of your way to avoid last week?

Mink. It’s really, really expensive. And yet, people buy it. Hmm. Interesting. Are you undercharging?

Nag. This is how people will know you if your follow-up phone calls and emails don’t have any other purpose besides trying to close them. Whom are you nagging?

Trek. That means working your ass off. That means trudging through the snow. That means slugging it out and sticking yourself out there until everyone knows who you are. What time did you get up this morning?

How would you complete the sentence, “You can’t spell M-A-R-K-E-T-I-N-G without the word…”?

For the list called, “37 Words that Should NOT be in Your Company Name,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

The world’s FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

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How to be a Smokin’ Hot Piece of Brain Candy

One of Edward DeBono’s most underrated books is called, How to Have a Beautiful Mind.

In the opening he states:

“As you get older, physical beauty tends to fade. But beauty of the mind is independent of age and can actually increase with wisdom and experience.”

LESSON LEARNED: Don’t be eye candy; be brain candy.

Eye candy is an idiom of physical attractiveness that means “someone with high visual appeal, yet little or no substance.”

Think Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in The Fast & The Furious.

Think Cameron Diaz, Lucy Lu and Drew Barrymore in Charlie’s Angels.

Those movies were easy on the eyes. Fun to watch. No brainers. Mindless entertainment.

In other words, they didn’t exactly stimulate your, um, cerebral cortex.

Brain candy, on the other hand, is a less common term. When you google the phrase, about a million hits come up, but few point to an actual definition.

In that case, allow me to define it…

Brain candy is an idiom of psychological attractiveness that means “someone with high mental appeal AND significant substance.”

Here’s how it works:

Brain candy is more ENDURING.
Because when you’re 65, your butt won’t look so hot.

Brain candy is more ATTRACTIVE.
Because it actually takes hard work; not just money, genetics and clothes.

Brain candy is more EQUITABLE.
Because it makes you, your brand and your organization more valuable every day.

Brain candy is more MARKETABLE.
Because customers will pay LOT of money for you to rock their (mental) world.

Brain candy is more APPROACHABLE.
Because when you’re aligned with smart people, you look smart. And that IS sexy.

Brain candy is more MEMORABLE.
Because while physical attractiveness captures someone’s EYE for a few minutes; psychological attractiveness capture someone’s BRAIN and HEART forever.

To see these principles in action, I’ve created a list of some of my favorite people who are, in my opinion, brain candy. (Not that these people aren’t pieces of EYE candy, too. But for now…)

NOTE: These people are in no particular order. I’ve sorted them alphabetically. Each of them is just as hot as the other 😉

Smokin’ Hot Pieces of Brain Candy

1. Adam Kreitman – www.wordsthatclick.net

2. Alan Weiss – www.summitconsulting.com

3. Andy Sernovitz – www.andysernovitz.com

4. Angela Leib – www.angelalieb.com

5. Arthur Scharff – www.presidentscouncil.biz

6. Bob Baker – www.bob-baker.com

7. Don the Idea Guy – www.dontheideaguy.com

8. Eric Maisel – www.ericmaisel.com

9. Harlan Hodge – www.harlanbhodge.com

10. Jane Atkinson – www.speakerlauncher.com

11. Jeffrey Gitomer – www.gitomer.com

12. Joey Reiman – www.thinkbrighthouse.com

13. Karen Hoffman – www.theideacoach.com

14. Kirsten Carey – www.orangetree123.com

15. Lois Creamer – www.bookmorebusiness.com

16. Matt Homann – www.thenonbillablehour.typepad.com

17. Robbin Phillips – www.brainsonfire.com

18. Seth Godin – www.sethgodin.com

19. Viki Diedrich – www.limitedadditionsgallery.com

20. William Jenkins – www.jenkinsedex.com

Mmm … brain candy … delicious.

REMEMBER: Eye Candy eventually loses its flavor. Brain Candy stays sweet forever.

Take that, Vin Diesel!


Are you eye candy or brain candy?


For the list called, “10 Ways to become a Smokin’ Hot Piece of Brandy Candy,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag


No time to write?

Can’t finish that book?

Dog ate your last article?

Come to the St. Louis Writing Marathon!

No excuses. Just writing. All day.

I promise it will be the best $20 you’ll spend on your writing career all year.

Learn more at www.writingmarathon.com!

NametagTV: More Engagement, More Profits!

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How engaged are your customers?

For a list called, “38 Ways to Make Your Customers GASP,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Satisfaction not enough?
Customers not telling their friends about you?
Want to learn how to deliver unforgettable service?

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Pick up your copy (or a case!) right here.

What’s under your fingernails?

So, I have this buddy named Spike Jones. Pretty smart dude. And in April when we were having lunch a few hours before my workshop, we got talking about the topic of identity.

“Well, what about you, Scott?” he asked.

“What’s under YOUR fingernails?”

A chill ran down my spine.

Wow. What a question. What a thought. I’ll never forget the feeling of allowing those four words to profoundly penetrate me.

What’s. Under. Your. Fingernails.

So, as I racked my brain, Spike said, “See, the work you do – if it truly matters – becomes a part of you.”

“Like the mechanic who never really loses the oil stains under his fingernails, our work stays with us wherever we go. It becomes a part of our language and our very being. Which isn’t to say work is EVERYTHING. But if your work is your calling – not just your job – you will embrace it in everything you do.”

Holy crap.

Ever since that fateful conversation, I’ve been thinking a lot about my fingernails. And I realize there’s really two ways you can answer that question: literally and metaphorically.

So, here’s what’s (literally) under my fingernails:

1. Metallic bronze dust from the strings on my Taylor 814-CE guitar.
2. Stains of blue Sharpie from hand-writing tens of thousands of nametags.
3. A decade’s worth of chlorine from countless laps of stress-relieving freestyle.
4. Metallic silver residue from daily pounding on the 78 keys on my MacBook Pro.
5. Rainbow cotton fibers from every content note card I’ve ever laid out on the floor.

Next, here’s what’s (metaphorically) under my fingernails:

1. Every email from every random person whose life improved in some way as a result of reading something I wrote.
2. Every email from every random person who told me how stupid I was, or how stupid my idea was.
3. Any of the 5000 creative, penetrating, thought-provoking questions I’ve collected, dissected and incorporated into my lexicon over the years.

– – –

Essentially, this question boils down to a new philosophy, a new paradigm and a new approach to our work. As inspired by Spike’s original post and my hommies @ Brains On Fire:

Work IS play.
That means infusing your childlike energy into everything you do. For the advancement and enhancement of your creative spirit. For the reciprocation of that spirit into the souls of the people you serve.

Work IS pleasure.
That means at the airport ticket counter when the agent asks, “Is this trip business or pleasure?” learning to respond, “Same thing for me!” “Always both!” or “What’s the difference?”

Work IS personal.
That means our technology has made it easy to take the personal-ness for granted. Which is exactly why you need to work so hard at getting personally involved. To prove that a few rounds of golf or some Chamber of Commerce meeting isn’t the extent of your “getting to know you” time with clients.

Work MEANS hitting the streets.
That means getting out of your office and actually talking and listening to the people who (really) pay your salary – the customers. And not in focus groups, online surveys or some other form of contrived, unrealistic cross-section of people you THINK speak for the entire group. We’re talking about real-life, face-to-face, organic human inquiry, conversation and connection. Something that doesn’t have a structure, agenda or regimented time limit.

Work MEANS getting your hands dirty.
That means becoming involved (even if it’s just a little) in the production, manufacturing, research, exploration and baseline development of your company’s ideas. Getting your butt out of the office and into the warehouse.

Work MEANS engaging face-to-face with customers.
That means hanging with them. Learning their language. Drinking their Kool-Aid. Watching them in action as they gain value from your product or service so you can more accurately report back on the posture of the masses.

What’s under your fingernails?

For my list called, “72 Superb Songs on Under Scott’s Fingernails,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

If they can’t come UP to you; how will they ever get BEHIND you?

Buy Scott’s new book and learn daily practices for becoming a more approachable manager!

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