You Got Me in the Door. Now What?

I recently used a Groupon to visit a local restaurant, one I otherwise probably would not have tried.  In that sense, the Groupon was a success for the merchant in that it brought in a new customer.  Getting people to try you out is great; getting them to come back is better.

Many organizations focus so much attention on getting people in the door (registered for your webinar, sampling a product,  trying out association membership, attending an event, et al) that they don’t spend enough time considering how to convert the one-time visit into a pattern of repeated engagement and interaction. 

Fundraisers model a basic principle worth emulating.  First-time donors usually receive a thank-you and an additional solicitation.
Dear Jeffrey:  Thanks so much for your generous gift of $50.  We welcome you into the community of people who care about ______ and will be able to accomplish much more with your support.  The need is great, however, and our ambitions quite bold.  Another $50 contribution from you right now would immediately allow us to _________.
This additional solicitation is actually a test, a simple way to assess just how interested and committed someone is to the cause.  We can do the same thing in our organizations, offering a nominal inducement upon a first-time expression of interest in an attempt to deepen an individual’s level of commitment and engagement.
Dear Jeffrey:  It was great having you at the luncheon workshop for potential new members last week.  I hope you enjoyed the keynote speaker as much as I did and that you have already put some of her great info to use in your own work.  This program is just one example of how we can help you connect with like-minded colleagues and strengthen your professional skills.  We hope to have you as a member of our community and see you at many more events in the future.  We’d love to have you as a colleague so much that if we receive your completed membership application within the next 30 days, we’ll immediately send you a complimentary set of session CDs from last year’s Annual Meeting.
While the example I gave is related to membership, the same principle applies to volunteering.  We don't always know the potential interest or commitment level of individuals volunteering for the first time.  We need to debrief with them after their experience, thank them for their contributions, and then learn if they would like to remain engaged, exploring the possibilities for how they can do so.

Some people are 100% satisfied with the one-night stand and are not looking to marry our cause or organization.  But we don’t really know that if we don’t put out a second invitation.

Transactions can be transformative if we intentionally try to cultivate longer-term relationships and convert one-time visitors into long-time colleagues.