From a Buddy Program, which welcomes new members to the local and national SMPS community, to educational workshop day, the SMPS Indiana board knows how to keep membership strong, involved, and engaging. “Members are our best advocates” says Cindy Culbertson, the President of the chapter. We spoke with her about their strategy for engaging new members, why checking in with members is crucial (member focus groups), and what is to come for the next year.
1. What was SMPS Indiana’s strategy for engaging new members in the past year?
The SMPS Indiana chapter does several things to engage members and encourage involvement. New members are welcomed via email and then invited to a one-on-one, get-to-know-you meeting with the Membership Chair. Or when we have several new members within a short timeframe, we host a group meeting and include additional Board members. Members, especially new members, are actively encouraged to join a committee and get involved. Each new member also has the option to be part of the Buddy Program – where the new member is assigned a member buddy who helps answer SMPS-related questions and introduces the new member at SMPS events.
2. Tell us about a successful event/meeting you organized last year.
The SMPS Indiana Education Committee organized a program and subsequent workshop this year that focused on how our clients make their buying decisions, and the biggest influence isn’t what most people would think. It’s your client’s 3 lb. brain! The first program was a precursor to a half-day workshop where we were able to dive deeper into this fascinating topic. Our energetic and passionate speaker, Bryan Gray with MediaSauce, was well-received by attendees. He left them wanting to learn more, and therefore our half-day workshop the following month was one of the largest attended education programs in recent years. Several months later, people are still talking about how the information has been helpful in their own careers.
3. The SMPS network is extensive. Do you get ideas on how to improve membership value from other SMPS chapters?
The SMPS network is an incredible resource. So, yes, we are always looking for ideas from other chapters. We try hard to provide quality programs that are beneficial to our members. Recommendations and referrals from other chapters are an important resource to us in order to keep our program offerings fresh while maintaining quality.
4. Do you have any tips/advice to share with other board volunteers?
Check in regularly with your members, it doesn’t require a formal process. One of our chapter goals for this year was “no closed circles” at meetings. Many of us have great relationships through SMPS and it’s easy to end up in the same circle of friends at each event. By keeping the circles open, we want all members to feel welcome and to make it easy for them to network and develop their own friendships.
Our members are our best advocates. The SMPS Indiana chapter is lucky to have so many past leaders, CPSMs, and Fellows that are still active chapter members. We purposefully ask them to help as much as possible to make sure they stay engaged and so our members can benefit from their experience!
5. What is in store for the members of SMPS Indiana next year?
In 2015, the SMPS Indiana chapter conducted several member focus groups. The knowledge our Board gained during these sessions helped us keep a pulse on what our members desire, whether they are 20+ year veterans or brand new to the organization. We are planning to make the focus groups an annual activity with the next round planned for Fall 2016.
More industry client panels, relevant education programs, and member networking events are also in the works.
6. How did StarChapter help you run SMPS Indiana and reach its goals?
One of the primary ways the SMPS Indiana chapter uses StarChapter is for event management. The ability to easily communicate with members and track registrations and payments is critical. The event history is useful for planning future events. Capturing program feedback via surveys also helps inform planning of chapter events and professional development programs.