Every marine dealer, marina operator and service supplier should be a member of their state and/or local marine trade association. The positive return on the extremely low dues investment is always a hands-down good deal.
But growing membership is an ongoing challenge for all trade groups. It shouldn’t be. But I know firsthand, having headed the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association for 34 years. I also know that when I could get someone to seriously listen to my pitch, I could convince them membership was in their interest.
So it’s no surprise that executive director Nicki Polan and her team at the Michigan Boating Industries Association have taken membership recruitment to a new level with a whiteboard video.
“When we presented the concept of a whiteboard video to our board, they loved it, too,” Polan said. “If it is fun to watch you will stick it out to hear the full message — maybe even watch it a second time. But there were other key reasons we did this.
“Video is a preferred method of communication these days for young and old. We have it linked on our websites, we are pushing it out through our social media efforts and we are including links in our e-communications. We’re also showing it at our regional meetings,” she added.
The MBIA staff also feels making use of video is a low-pressure endeavor. Often when they approach potential members, the members feel pressure to join. The listening mode shuts down. Conversely, the video approach allows the MBIA to communicate the reasons to join in a very “low-pressure” manner. They can view it without being on guard, watch it multiple times at their own convenience and even share the message with other people on their staff.
“We are told the message is also meaningful to our current members,” Polan said. “The whiteboard video reinforces MBIA’s mission and value to current members. Our emphasis this spring at our regional meetings is focusing on three things: Why MBIA is important; what we have accomplished together over the years; and why we are nothing without our members.”
Like most marine trade groups these days, many of the MBIA’s current members are second-generation owners who really might not know their association’s past accomplishments. “It is hard to be appreciative of something you never knew was a threat,” Polan said. “This is an opportunity to review the past ‘wins’ with our current members.”
Lastly, the MBIA staff believes the video makes membership recruitment easier for everyone. They routinely encourage current members to help recruit new members. But the staff also recognizes the members are busy running their own businesses. So the video makes it much easier for them to recruit because they can simply forward it on to a prospective MBIA member. The video does all the explaining.
If there was an “Oscar” for something that cleverly explains the value of MTA membership, this MBIA video would take it.