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StarChapter of February: SMPS Chicago

It’s been long said that engaged members are what makes a good association tick. Outreach efforts are unquestionably one of the best ways to turn new members into engaged members. This is truer when it comes to local chapter of national associations. The Chicago chapter of Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) demonstrates how outreach efforts to new members and board leaders in the industry have dramatically improved the performance of the organization, turning it to one of its best years yet. We spoke with a few members on the board who have led and managed these efforts in the past year to gain insights into their strategy and results.

 

1. What was SMPS Chicago’s strategy for engaging new members in the past year?

David Copeland, CTS, LEED-AP, Membership Director: SMPS Chicago has been engaging new members first by welcoming them to the chapter with an email introduction, including information about events, committees, and other benefits of membership. Shortly after, the new member will be called by the membership committee to introduce them personally, welcome them to the chapter, and find out how we can maximize their SMPS membership benefits. Within the first month, we then invite them to attend a new member lunch, which only members in their first 12 months of membership can attend. Through these initial steps, our hope is that the new member feels welcomed to the chapter, gets to speak with and meet several other new members, and is encouraged to attend additional events to further their involvement with the chapter.

 

2. Tell us about a successful event/meeting you organized last year

Megan Johnson, Programs Director: One of the most successful meetings of this past year for SMPS Chicago was our March 2015 joint program with another organization – the Design-Build Institute of America. This program focused on building a winning team for design-build proposals, and featured a panel of various industry experts as well as clients. Our program was a record attendance for the year – 105 – made up of both DBIA and SMPS members. The program was not only educational but allowed members of our various organizations to network. All registration was done in StarChapter and went very smoothly from both ends.

 

3. Do you get ideas on how to improve membership value from other SMPS chapters?

Nicole Dvorak, President and Thomas Petermann, P.E., President-Elect: Yes, we do. Currently, we are taking a look at other chapter websites as well as talking to other chapter leaders to see what type of programming they are offering and what has worked/hasn’t worked for them in the past. We are also looking at new and improved Professional Development topics that have worked for other chapters. We join the chapter for similar reasons and don’t feel like there’s a need to recreate the wheel. It is also a great way to get to know other chapter leaders and use each other as a resource.

 

4. Do you have any tips/advice to share with other board volunteers? 

Anne Kulick, CPSM, Communications Director: SMPS Chicago finds that communication is critical. Our Board uses a combination of in-person meetings, conference calls and daily emails to make sure we are all “on the same page”. From program planning and registration, to sponsorship commitments, to member engagement; communication among the Board members is the key to efficient processes and ultimately to our success.

 

5. What is in store for the members of SMPS Chicago next year?

Nicole Dvorak, President and Thomas Petermann, P.E., President-Elect: For 2016, it is our goal to really make sure members are getting the benefits they are here for. We are diving into our programming to make sure it is diverse enough for all types of members throughout the AEC Industry. We are really taking the time to make sure we have the top professionals in the industry speaking at Professional Development events and we are adding a few member-only events to deeply get to know our members and make sure they are getting what they need out of SMPS Chicago. It’s going to be a great year to get back to the roots of SMPS Chicago and get people re-energized.

 

6. How did StarChapter help you run SMPS Chicago and reach its goals?  

Megan FitzPatrick, CPSM, Communications Director: StarChapter has streamlined many processes. With StarChapter, we can communicate with members and friends, look-up information, make a revision to an event page, add content, and keep track of orders with ease. And the key is consistently, as well. Providing programs and events of value to our members is our focus. If attendance is shorter than expected to a program, we use StarChapter tools to try to get some more attendees. If attendance is higher than expected, we can make sure the event planners are aware immediately and avoid surprises at the front door. We can also respond to member and non-member inquires promptly and efficiently. 

 

SMPS Chicago

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