5 Ways to Jumpstart the Joinability of Your Brand

Este Lauder once said, “Women don’t buy brands — they join them.”

When I first heard that quotation, my inner geography changed forever. And I eventually came to a conclusion that has yet to be disputed:

Good brands are bought, great brands are joined.

Like my friend Jay Siefert, owner of Studio Element (pictured above).

Because of his passion for fitness, health and human potential, clients join more than his club — they join his brand.

Who’s joining yours?

Consider these ideas to jumpstart the joinability of your brand:1. Run a joinability audit. Traditional marketing is wallpaper. It’s invisible, inaudible and inconsumable. It’s appallingly uninteresting and instantly forgettable. And it interrupts people, disturbs their attention and pollutes the public space.

If you want to avoid that reality, the first step is to ask yourself five crucial questions.

*Does your brand interrupt people or involve them?
*Does your brand ask people to care, or invite people to participate?
*Does your brand demand and disturb people’s attention, or respect and reward it?
*Does your brand offer purpose-driven human uniqueness, or just a patchwork of weirdness?
*Does your brand offer real, human, experiential value at the point of consumption, or just dispense a message?

These questions aren’t just questions: They’re springboards. And they can be used in a few ways: As strategic planning tools to benchmarks to build the joinability of your brand; as benchmarks to sustain the joinability of your brand; and as filters to research the joinability of other company’s brands.

The best part: If you ask these questions enough, you’ll internalize them. And soon joinability will become second nature.

Remember: You can’t bother people into buying from you. All you can do is invite them to join you by expressing yourself fully and freely. Do the benefits of your brand transcend the transactional?

2. Identify and promote your brand’s human purpose. “All of our brands are designed with human purpose in mind,” wrote Leo Burnett. “And when our story plays a long-term role in people’s lives, it’s no longer a brand — it’s a badge. And that’s how we create lifelong emotional relationships with them.”

The cool part is, the consequence of your brand’s human purpose will be people’s participation. That’s where true joinability lives. And whether that involves in-person conversation offline, or user-generated content online, the result will be the same: Customers will move from being observers of your brand to achievers with your brand.

Why do you think Obama won the presidency? Certainly wasn’t his political resume. It was because his brand hinged on the human purpose of hope. And he knew that in tough times, people wanted to be told what was possible.

So he told them. And although he didn’t solve all the world’s problems immediately, he still ran the most successful campaign in our country’s history. Sixty-four million people joined him. They proudly wore his brand as a badge. And his story will have a long-term role in each of their lives. That’s the power of human purpose.

Remember: Your brand is your stand. What happens when people step onto it?

3. Participation is the only unit of marketing that matters. For the past eleven years, I’ve invited hundreds of thousands of people to join my brand. But not by asking them for money. And not by persuading them to join my overpriced, marginally helpful membership site.

Rather, by creating spontaneous moments of authentic human interaction, infused with a sprit of humor, playfulness and connection.

That’s what my brand does: It makes this moment, right now, a more humane, pleasant passing of time. From my handwritten nametag to my trademark philosophy card to my daily fill in the blank exercise, my goal is create simultaneous engagement and entertainment, both online and off.

What does your brand do for people? And do those people care enough about your brand to take a moment, take a picture and make a memory?

If not, you’re in trouble. Because people won’t value your brand if the experience of it doesn’t add something to their lives. And people won’t participate in your brand’s communication if they’re not rewarded them for the time they spend with it.

Your mission is simple: Let people into the moment. Induce participation. And intuitively respond to the human thirst for connection. People won’t just buy you — they’ll join you. Forever. Are you providing an opportunity for people to participate in a way that speaks to their individual needs?

4. Provide people with opportunities to act. Let’s talk more about participation. According to Leo Burnett’s book, Humankind, an act is anything that creates an emotional connection that deepens over time.

Something simple, inclusive, accessible and relevant to people’s lives. Something that gives people the gift of a quiet moment of joy. Something that connotes and reflects the brand’s human purpose. Something that enhances a moment of happiness. Something that creates excitement where apathy lives. And something that changes the momentary experience.

To identify your brand’s act, try their formula:

“I seek to create act of _______ in moments of ________.”

Creative directors Tom Bernardin and Mark Tutsel provide a list of powerful examples. Consider a few of these to begin brainstorming your brand’s act:

Interest in moments of timidity.
Confidence in moments of doubt.
Progress in moments of stagnation.
Coolness in moments of social risk.
Connection in moments of isolation.
Inspiration in moments of weakness.
Liberation in moments of constraint.
Casualness in moments of seriousness.
Encouragement in times of insecurity.
Togetherness in moments of loneliness.
Friendships in moments of indifference.

Remember: You don’t need advertisements, you need invitations to act and engage with your brand. Are you selling to people or connecting with them?

5. Let customers take the steering wheel. Joinability comes from vulnerability. That is, surrendering certain parts of your brand as the cost of growth. And a few years back, Jeff Jarvis famously wrote three words on this topic that changed everything: Become a platform.

According to his research, that’s what winning brands do: Join the post-scarcity, open-source, gift economy and remember that their best customers are their partners.

Here’s a few ways to do so for your organization: First, give users and fans the ability to create and improve your online content. They’ll become your brand spokespeople just by being themselves.

Second, enable your customers to build communities and networks under the umbrella of your platform. They’ll multiply your audience beyond what you could have accomplished alone.

Third, encourage people to build their own products and businesses connected to your brand. They’ll become your mobile sales force, global marketing department and perpetual listening platform.

As a result, they’ll elevate your platform to the point that it becomes a catapult. And then, as your brand becomes an infinite source of infinite opportunity, they won’t give joining a second thought.

Remember: Surrender is the new control. Customers want to be pilots, not just passengers. Let them control their brand experience and they’ll thank you by telling everybody. How vulnerable are you willing to be?

REMEMBER: People love to buy — but they love to belong even more.

If you want to make money, make a difference and make history, help people join your brand.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Is your brand buyable but not joinable?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Stop Being Nice and Start Becoming Necessary

That’s nice, but… We’re not Apple.
That’s nice, but… That doesn’t help me.
That’s nice, but… How much will this cost?
That’s nice, but… How does that affect the bottom line?
That’s nice, but… That doesn’t really answer my question.

So much for the power of nice.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being nice.

BUT HERE’S THE DIFFERENCE: Nice gets commended, necessary gets compensated.

Which word describes the work you do?

Let’s explore a list of strategies to help you stop being nice and start becoming necessary:1. Hit them in the wallet quicker. One of my clients, Aaron, is a nurse practitioner. He consults with hospitals, healthcare organizations and other medical professionals on how to practice heart-centered care. During one of our email mentoring sessions, he enlightened me about the mindset of a typical hospital administrator:

“If it doesn’t directly relate to patient care – they don’t care.”

To them, that’s what matters. It’s a bottom-line focus. It’s a self-interest that pivots on the principle of profitability. Not just for hospitals – for all organizations. For all customers.

Not that it’s always about money, but let’s not kid ourselves: People think with their wallets. And to move from nice to necessary, you have to hit them there quicker.

One suggestion for doing so comes from a recent issue of FastCompany. Made to Stick authors Dan & Chip Heath suggest that you sell aspirin, not vitamins.

“If you want to succeed, you’d better be selling aspirin rather than vitamins. Vitamins are nice; they’re healthy. But aspirin cures your pain; it’s not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.”

That’s how you hit them in the wallet quicker. That’s how nice becomes necessary: When what you do unearths your customer’s deeply felt needs. Is your organization selling a better mousetrap or a dead mouse?

2. Be gloriously explicit. What do all coaches and consultants have in common? Nobody knows what the hell they really do. Because of low barriers to entry, minimal training requirements and mass-market saturation, coaching and consulting are poorly defined service offerings. Which makes most coaches and consultants nice – but not necessary.

For that reason, five years ago I introduced a first-of-its-kind service called, Rent Scott’s Brain. People bonded with it instantly. More importantly, people bought it instantly. That moved the service from nice to necessary, because it offered people (who valued my thinking) access to a one of a kind product.

That’s your mission: To show people exactly what you do so they can decide whether or not they need it. I’m not just talking about honesty – this is radical transparency. Making no qualms about what you do, what you don’t do and what happens when you do it. How explicitly are your service offerings defined?

3. Embrace your outsiderness. People need fresh air. A new perspective. Someone from the outside to point out the glaring inconsistencies they’re too close to themselves to see. That’s the three-fold advantage to being an outsider.

First: Outsiders bring objectivity. This moves you from nice to necessary for several reasons: You have little or no bias. Your can recognize patterns immediately. You have no stake. You don’t bring vested interests to an existing problem. You can explore structure with fresh eyes. And you’re not viewed as a threat.

Second: Outsiders invite freedom. As an outsider, you don’t face traditional barriers. You’re unaware of common creative blocks. You’re not subject certain internal politics. And you can challenge assumptions that were never considered, or taken for granted.

Third: Outsiders expand thinking. Because you’re detached from outcomes. Because you’re not so close to the situation and, therefore have limited agendas. And because your body of experience applies cross-industrially.

The point is: It’s a lot easier to break the limit when you don’t know the limit exists. And the less you know, the more likely you are to come up with an original idea. That’s what I tell my clients: “I don’t know anything. And that’s exactly why I’m here.”

Remember: Sometimes it takes a person who knows nothing to change everything. How are you positioned as an equitable outsider?

4. Baseline remarkability isn’t enough. Crystal Pepsi was remarkable, but irrelevant. It was nice, but not necessary. That’s the trap many organizations to fall victim to: Being remarkable for the sake of being remarkable.

Most of the time, this is the result of falling in love with your own marketing. And the problem is: If there’s no sustainability and substance beyond baseline remarkability, you never transcend nice. The goal is to seek enduring remarkability.

My suggestion: Listen to people tell you what’s not working for them. Hell, you can even ask them: “What urgent, expensive, important problem do you have – that nobody else is attending to?” When you become known as someone who acknowledges what’s been tragically neglected, someone who overcomes the poisonous accumulation of unsatisfied customer wishes, necessary will be an understatement.

Remember: People can tell their friends all they want about you. But if there’s no substance to anchor your shtick, if there’s no pervasive problem-solving to support your product, you won’t last. Any number multiplied by zero is still zero. Do you truly offer meaningful uniqueness?

5. Dare to be dumm. You can’t avoid the appearance of ignorance forever. But it takes tremendous courage and humility to stand up in the middle of a meeting and say, “Does anyone else smell that?” or “Am I the only one, or is this confusing to you guys too?” That’s what the necessary do: They speak truth to people’s hearts. And if you want to do so, keep your eye out for three patterns:

First, ideas that are simply too convenient to be killed. Grab a pistol and be the one to speak up. Otherwise nothing will ever change.

Second, problems that are so simple and familiar that they become hidden. Pull them out from behind the curtain and expose them to world.

Third, people who are too comfortable to feel the weight of their own stupidity. Your job is to find evidence of burden wherever you can.

Now, keep in mind: You’re not here to be a downer – but you don’t want to put lipstick and makeup on the truth. Ultimately, to be necessary is to become a delightful disturbance. To snap open people’s eyes, strike at the very root and translate floating abstractions into concrete realities.

And if you can make but a few people pause, you win. And so do they. Are you ignoring the elephant in the room, talking about the elephant in the room, or jumping on its back and teaching it how to dance?

6. Positioning wins ballgames. It’s not about marketshare – it’s about mindshare. Your goal is to walk into a room as a peer of the people, a trusted resource to the people and a problem solver with the people. Like Jack Trout’s wrote in Positioning, “Don’t create the product – build the position behind the product in the prospect’s mind.”

Let’s break down each of the three roles.

First: A peer. A friend. Not someone who surreptitiously memorized the names of your family members to make it look like he cares. And not one of those lame-ass, social media pseudo friends that don’t actually know anything about who you really are. I’m talking about a real friend. Someone who knows what you ache for. Someone who’s well versed in your why. And someone who knows is how you think, how you live and whom you love. Do your clients, coworkers and superiors think of you that way?

Second: A trusted resource. Which means even if you don’t know the answer, you know the questions that will point people to the answer. And through the depth of what you deliver, you don’t make people ask, “Should we hire this guy?” but rather, “How should we use this guy?”

Third: A problem solver. Which means you’re the answer to something that matters. You’re don’t just learn about your customers’ businesses – you learn about their brain. You try their heads on. And when the time comes, you practice restraint when it comes to deliver answers. No need to deploy every weapon you have. No need to teach people how to build a watch – just tell them what time it is.

Remember: The stronger your pre-sale position, the easier it is to get to yes. How are you positioned prior to making the sale?

7. Serve people as if they were already paying clients. You don’t need to give away the farm – but by helping at a high level now, you help people find a way to pay you later. It’s all in the mindset you maintain. For example, if you walk in the door thinking:

“It’s just a free gig. I can half ass it. I’ll bring my b-game and save the good stuff for people who actually pay,” your performance will suffer as a result. Not to the extent that the client will really notice the difference – but to the extent that the client will assume that’s all you’ve got.

On the other hand, if you walk in the door thinking, “I know they’re not paying me, but I’m still going to rock their faces off. I’m going to make them laugh, make them understand and make them marvel. And I’m going to engage them emotionally with an unbroken series of value-driven actions, an extraordinarily pure heart and an indispensible presence,” people will be so blown away that they’ll have no choice but to start paying you.

That’s what happens when you throw your full attention to the world of the client: They throw their full budget to the world of your bank account. Or they call security. How are you making it clear that your focus is on helping and not charging?

8. Be a vital component, not just a helpful addition. A few years ago, my friend John Janstch told me the secret of his blog commenting strategy: Don’t just comment – contribute. Now, although we’re not talking about blogging today, the same general principal applies. You have to transform yourself into a value-adding machine.

That’s how you move from nice to necessary: By not being selfish with your knowledge. By positioning yourself as the only path to fulfillment. By positioning your expertise in such a way that people wouldn’t dare go into the marketplace without your opinion first. And by sharing your expertise generously so people recognize it, embrace it and eventually depend on you for it.

Soon, people in your office, people in your network and people in your marketplace will start coming to your for your time. Because they won’t want to make a move without consulting you first.

Remember: If your absence doesn’t make a noticeable difference, why would people bother inviting you back? You want to become so imminently significant, that your client’s world crumbles when you’re not around. When you walk out of a room, how does it change?

In conclusion, I’d like to talk about something that never fails to amaze me:

The stark difference between the value you think you deliver, and the value your customers actually remember.

One of the groups I work with provides seminars, coaching and resources to unemployed professionals. And after a recent workshop, my client expressed something that blew my hair back:

“Don’t get me wrong, Scott. The material was great. The slides were stimulating. And the delivery was engaging. But these people need to laugh. Some of them have been unemployed for over a year now, and their spirits are sagging. So, the fact that they just spent the last three hours of their lives with smiles on their faces and chuckles in their bellies is exactly what they didn’t realize they needed. That’s the value you bring – and it’s priceless. Thanks.”

You know, it’s amazing: When you deliver a dose of positivity, you achieve a stroke of superiority.

And I agree that hope isn’t a strategy. I also agree that the people who inspire an atmosphere of hope are the last to be shown the door.

My suggestion:

Engage the muscle of yes.
Remain radiant amidst the filth of the world.
There will be no escaping the echoes of your enthusiasm.

And your radiance will propel you lightyears beyond nice and into the galaxy of necessary.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How much money is nice making you?

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For the list called, “20 Ways to Make Customers Feel Comfortable” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Scott Ginsberg Teaches Optimists International How to be More Joinable

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Who’s joining you?

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For the list called, “15 Ways to Out Learn Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Whom did you join last week?

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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
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

Watch Scott Ginsberg’s Closing Keynote (LIVE!) at The Optimists International Convention

Six hours from now, I’ll be taking center stage here in Denver for the Optimist International Convention.

They’re streaming all of the sessions live!

My program this afternoon is about how to make your organization more joinable.

I’d love to have you tune in at 3:00pm (Denver time), go here!

See you then.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How joinable are you?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “13 Ways to Out Develop Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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10 Ways to Make Your Organization More Joinable than a Megan Fox Fan Club

“Why isn’t anybody joining our organization?!”

That’s a frustrating question for any leader to ask.

Especially when meeting attendance is down, new membership is non-existent and the attitude of the board is bordering on apathetic.

Yikes.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. And to the dismay of your diabetic members, it doesn’t involve a bake sale.

HERE’S THE REALITY: Whether you’re an association, non-profit, church, club – or even a company – you can’t make anybody join you.

All you can do is increase the probability of new people joining your organization by making yourself, your members and your group more JOINABLE.

Let find out how:

1. Start with yourself. Think of the last three organizations, clubs or groups you joined. How easy were they to join? What was the deciding factor? What reservations did you have about joining? Sit down with your board.

Make a chart. Write the answers out. Look for commonalities. Then brainstorm three action items for each attribute of joinable organizations. Begin executing them today. Why do YOU join?

2. Take the first step. My friend Jim Henderson, author of Jim And Casper Go to Church, takes a counterintuitive stance on joining. “Are you getting people to join you, or are you trying to join them first?” In this instance, proactivity is the secret. Sticking yourself out there is the way.

After all, approachability is a two-way street. Your mission is to give people permission. I wonder if Megan Fox ever does that for her fan club. Who is just waiting to be asked to join what you’re doing?

3. Establish a bullshit-free atmosphere. Of course, you can’t completely accomplish this. A little bullshit always seeps through. The first secret is expectational clarity. Alerting prospective members upfront that honesty isn’t a value thrown around like a Nerf ball.

It’s a way of life. A practice. Honoring the truth, YOUR truth, and other people’s truths. The second secret is the willingness to call each other on – and open yourself to being called on – bullshit. It’s painful but profitable. Is the prerequisite for attending your organization’s meetings “roll your pant legs up”?

4. Help people feel a sense of self-achievement. In the book Leadership & Nursing Management, author Diane Huber explains, “Remember people’s psychological drive and primary need to accomplish things.” Next, make a list called, “Top Ten Things My Members Want to Accomplish.”

Then, match group behaviors to desires. Think about what, specifically, your group is providing to help your people accomplish those things. How are you helping your members put checkmarks next to their goals?

5. Sit people down. Shockingly enough, the best way to find out what people want is to ASK THEM. As the president of my local chapter of National Speakers Association, I’ve spent the last year doing just that: Collecting data. Asking questions. Having lunches. Kissing babies. Whatever it takes.

Then, during one-on-one meeting with members, past members or potential members, I’ve been asking the following questions: “What would bring you back?” and “When you used to come to meetings, what, specifically, were we providing you?”

You might also ask people to complete the following sentence three times: “As a member, I would come if (x).” Whichever approach you choose, here’s the reality: Regardless of current attendance or membership, there WAS a moment when people DID care, and DID come. As their leader, you have the power to create that again.

It’s simple: Pick up the phone, set up a lunch, sit down with someone, honestly ask for their help, staple your tongue to the roof of your mouth and take copious notes. Remember: People want to be in the mix with something meaningful. That’s how you drive faces back. How many lunches have you had this month with current, past or prospective members?

6. The speed of the response IS the response. Be actively responsive to inquiries about membership. Respond to member impatience with Phrases That Payses like “Right away,” “The best way to help you right now” and “How can I help you the most?”

This demonstrates urgency through your language and reinforces emotional reliability. Especially when people want answers NOW, or, in many cases, last Tuesday. Remember: When your words to promote insistence – but aren’t hurried – people become relaxed and ready to join. How quickly do you return calls?

7. Nourish their interests. Gil Wagner, founder of Yellow Tie International, had this to say on joinability:

“Emotionally, the association’s philosophies must fit mine. I suggest an open-circle environment (both in welcoming new people and in welcoming their ideas), a giving spirit and a mission that feels right. Logically, the math must work out. The expected ROI must fit with my needs at the time.”

Remember: Belonging is a strong emotion – appeal to it. How are you speaking to the self-interest of future members?

8. Create opportunities to dive and dig deep. Superficiality works for about twenty minutes. After that, it’s time to get to the heart of the matter. The meat and potatoes. The tofu and veggies. Your mission is to make sure your meetings; websites and materials provide sustainable, practical and actionable value.

For example, as a board member of NSA/XY, I help facilitate discussions with challenging thought starters. At our recent meetup in Chicago, I took the lead on a conversation about content management/deployment by answering the question, “How do you direct your creative thinking to create value?”

That one question helped the group dive and dig deep into the heart of a key challenge. How does your group give its members conversational shovels?

9. Make it easy to contribute. People derive psychological satisfaction from doing so. Your goal is to (not only) make contribution easy – but to continually recognize people’s contributions as they come in. This cycle of affirmation encourages people to return with more keepers each time.

Be sure to create a question-friendly environment. Give new people space to share. Work on boosting your askability. And never forget to acknowledge the newbies. They might have a contribution the likes of which your organization has never seen. Whose voice are you unintentionally silencing?

10. Make it easy to withdraw. In my AIIM Leadership Council, one of the coolest benefits of joining is THV: Take Home Value. Here’s how it works: At the end of every meeting, each member fills out a one-page summary with her best “keepers” of the day. Then, our director emails a composite of ALL the keepers to us the following week. It’s invaluable for several reasons.

First, you get a chance to see how twelve people interpret the same ideas in different ways. Secondly, you don’t have to remember anything. Finally, when you see your own THV on the final composite, your sense of contribution is reaffirmed. I challenge you to incorporate this process of into your organization. Use a blog, ezine, Facebook group or Twitter account.

When you deliver take-home value, you win. Your members win. Your group wins. How are you making it easy for your members to make positive withdrawals from your organization?

REMEMBER: You can’t make anybody join you.

All you can do is increase the probability of new people joining your organization by making yourself, your members and your group more JOINABLE.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my meeting at the Megan Fox Fan Club. Maybe tonight she’ll muster the courage to approach me and say hi.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How joinable are you?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “99 Questions Every Entrepreneur Needs to Ask,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here! >

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