Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Deliver Your Chapter's Unique Value - Final Installment - Provide An Incredible Experience


Deliver Your Chapter’s Unique Value – Final Installment

We’ve been talking since the middle of June about ways to deliver your chapter’s unique value and to differentiate it from online sources of hearing loss information. You’ve identified  your chapter’s  unique strengths and opportunities and you’ve used those to mitigate any weaknesses and threats it might have.  You’ve powered up your chapter’s marketing to move beyond just listing meeting dates, times, and speakers in brochures,  announcements, and flyers. You are now informing people about the things they will learn at each chapter meeting and how it benefits them.  This benefit-oriented focus is leading to people-generated referrals. More people are coming to your chapter’s meetings and events.  What you are doing is working.  Congratulations!

Now what do you do?  How do you keep the momentum going?  This is where your chapter delivers its unique value by providing an incredible experience that cannot be found online.

It starts with first impressions.  You only get one chance to make a good first impression.  You must build a strong team totally focused on providing this unique experience. This means that chapter leaders embrace the need to welcome first-time visitors warmly and to encourage them to return.  Chapter leaders understand first-time visitors  usually come to get specific questions answered and they are prepared to answer those questions.  Chapter leaders understand that people keep coming back for  social interaction, friendship, and improved listening/communication experiences.  Spouses/communication partners/family members come for education, mentoring, and support.

A Welcome Plan supports a strong team effort that makes people want to come back. The team recognizes walking into a chapter meeting for the very first time can a high-stress situation for a newcomer.  They make the newcomer feel  safe, welcome, good about themselves, and glad they came.

Warm and friendly greeters located near the entry to the meeting room, staffing the information table, make coming into the meeting place inviting.  Chapter leaders point out the benefits of the HLAA chapter and help connect new comers with existing members.  Welcome kits highlighting the chapter’s activities, meeting dates, leader contact info, and reasons to come back are handed to every new comer. Chapter mentors and leaders are clearly identified.  They comfortably approach newcomers.  They appear to be enjoying themselves.

Chapters build time for social interaction into each meeting and encourage socialization with simple refreshments.  Some chapters designate special time before or after the speaker presentation for this purpose.   Chapter leaders and mentors are prepared to answer the most common questions about hearing aids, hearing healthcare providers, and the cost of hearing aids. Each newcomer’s contact information is obtained and a follow-up email, note, or phone call goes out within 2 days. This “pleased-to-meet-you” reach-out contains information about the chapter’s mission, meeting schedule, next activity. and how to get in touch. 

How does a Chapter build a strong team that will be able to consistently and effectively deliver incredible experiences that can’t be duplicated online?  Hold a Chapter Development Workshop and brainstorm program ideas.  Review what you uncovered during your SWOT Analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).  Talk to other chapter leaders.  Consult the Leader Support page of the HLAA website http://www.hearingloss.org/content/leader-support   for ideas on Run A Strong Chapter, Meetings, Outreach/Service.  Discuss your chapter’s current environment with your leaders. Reach out to HLAA’s Director of Chapter Development chapters@hearingloss.org  Discuss the vision for where your chapter wants to go. Where do you see your Chapter being in 5 years?  What one or two things might you do that you presently do not do?  Solicit your chapter leaders’ ideas and engage their commitment to try new things.   Commit to trying one or two new ideas every year. Make this an ongoing process.  

Remember, it is important to have fun. If your chapter has fun, others will want to have fun right along with you. People with hearing loss connecting with each other and having fun will differentiate your chapter as offering something of unique value. 

Good luck and thank you for sharing your time and talents with HLAA.  Exciting, and FUN, things are ahead! Please reach out to me to share your ideas.

All the best,

Valerie Stafford-Mallis