It’s February 15 – or as it’s known to many, National Day of Disappointment. According to a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF), U.S. consumers were expected to spend a total of $18.2 billion on Valentine’s Day this year, with a whopping $4 billion spent on jewelry alone.
Nevertheless, despite the high stakes, or perhaps because of the high stakes, there’s no question that countless men and women woke up this morning with a sense of profound disappointment.
If you’re on the “giving end” of that disappointment, you may be paying a steep price today … and tomorrow … and the next day. But what happens when “what you’re giving” is totally out of your sphere of control?
Case in point: It’s that time of year when association leaders are sharing their 2016 results with key stakeholders. How do you present the numbers when they fall short of what you (or your stakeholders) were hoping for? It’s not like you can run out and buy a box of chocolates or a dozen roses to make everything okay. How do you deliver the news without breaking hearts?
Association leaders work hard to achieve their goals. As the face of membership shifts, maintaining a strong focus on the acquisition, retention, and engagement of members is essential.
However, it doesn’t come easy. Often, membership data is spread across multiple systems leading to inaccurate data and poor decision making. Moreover, vanity metrics, such as renewal rates or page views, could skew the reality of an organization’s overall health and lead to missed opportunities.
Robust integrations along with an earnest understanding of your members can address these issues, but what if it’s too late? What if you already missed your benchmark? It’s okay. While disappointing stakeholders is always challenging, take a deep breath, make a plan, and keep the following top of mind.
No one wants to deliver bad news. But, waiting an unreasonably long time to share failure isn’t going to remedy the situation. In fact, it could make it worse. Show the data, including critical insights, and explain what happened in a direct, credible, and concise manner. Be specific and then answer questions. And don’t forget to have a plan in place for how to avoid the same failure going forward.
It is likely you’ll have to deliver the news to a variety of audiences. For each, think about the takeaway. How will the news affect them and how do you want them to feel when they leave the conversation? This is a tough one, because you also have to avoid the temptation to positively spin the news, as this could jeopardize your credibility. If there’s concrete evidence of a benefit, by all means share it, but be prepared to sacrifice moments of unpleasantness to preserve the trust of your senior leadership, staff, and members.
Come to the table with solutions. If membership is down, bring ideas to increase and retain. If revenue is down, consider ideas to diversify the revenue stream or membership model. Whatever the news, approach it with your best ideas and a keen interest in improvement and a way to track progress.