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   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  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

Monday, August 15, 2016

Deliver your Chapter’s Unique Value Part 4 – Power-up Your Chapter’s Marketing

For the past three blogs we’ve been thinking about delivering your chapter’s unique value to differentiate it from everything else that’s out there: going online for information, doing nothing about one’s hearing loss, and so on.  We talked about analyzing your chapter’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We talked about looking for ways to chapters might use strengths to mitigate threats and weaknesses.

Today I’d like you to consider some ideas to power-up your Chapter’s marketing.

When we talk about marketing, most people immediately think of meeting announcements, brochures and flyers.  Meeting announcements, brochures and flyers are very important and no chapter should be without them.   Powering up your chapter’s marketing, however, is so much more than that.   It is adding a set of experiences to meeting announcements, brochures and flyers that communicate to the world WHY your chapter exists and WHY its existence matters. 

Where and how do you even begin?  Instead of just talking about what your chapter does, also talk about WHY it matters. 

·         WHY does your chapter exist? To make the world a better place for people with hearing loss through information, education, support, and advocacy.

·         WHY does your chapter do the things that it does?  Because we expand our worlds when we do things together

·         WHY should someone come to your chapter?  To experience not having to hide one’s hearing loss anymore.  To experience the power of community and other people in overcoming the daily challenges of hearing loss. To find a place in a hearing world where it is okay not to hear typically.

·         WHY should they come back?  To tap into understanding and acceptance.  To make friends. To have fun.  To have experiences they would not otherwise have.  Did I forget to say to have fun?

People respond to people.  Providing information that focuses on WHY what your chapter offers and does matters opens the door to more people-generated referrals. People-generated referrals in turn, supplement the referrals from your meeting announcements, brochures and flyers.

What are some examples of people-generated referral opportunities for your chapter?

·         People your chapter meets at community events who respond to your chapter’s presence. Events matter!  Get out there in the community. Go to where the people with hearing loss in addition to using meeting announcements, brochures, and flyers. 

·         People individual chapter members talk to at the grocery store, doctor’s office, gym, or the dry cleaners’ who respond to a member’s compassion

·         People hearing health care providers refer to your chapter

·         People who meet your chapter members out in the community going to restaurants, enjoying captioned movies and looped performance halls, shopping in stores, walking their dogs, and book clubs

·         People who see HLAA chapter members laughing and enjoying life again. HLAA members may have lost their hearing but they haven’t lost their capacity to enjoy life!

Success breeds success.  When people see your chapter members living the life on their terms, moving confidently in the direction of their goals, they will want that for themselves.

Provide the real experience that can’t be experienced on-line.  See if your chapter can get out once a month.  If once a month isn’t feasible…make it once a quarter.  If once a quarter isn’t feasible, try twice a year.  Stumped for ideas?  Check out the Outreach and Community Service Project Ideas  on the HLAA website’s Leader Support page:   

Try reaching out to the community with compelling experiences that show WHY your chapter and what it does matters.   See if the community doesn’t reach back out to you….at least a little.  I’m betting you will be surprised and your chapter members will have a LOT more fun.

In the next blog we are going to talk about another way to deliver your chapter’s unique value – by providing an incredible experience for anyone who walks into a chapter meeting.  Stay tuned and thank you for sharing your time and talents with HLAA! 

Valerie Stafford-Mallis