I went to the ASAE Idea Swap in Columbia, MD, today. It was on the use of smart phones as a marketing channel and here is a very smart idea...
Amadie Hart of Beaconfire Consulting officiated the session and made what I think to be a very good suggestion.
Make your Membership List accessible to your member's smart phones. This can be done through either an app or a specially designed site (Not a big deal, really. It was suggested that you could use free software like Mobify or Mofuse to help you with this. There are more, simply Google "Mobile website design" and many more will pop up).
What a great way to demonstrate 'networking' and deliver a real value to your membership. It also allows you to explore (research) the value of that channel to your membership and help you decide how much you really want to put into developing it.
Ultimately, we all agreed that this is simply another channel like direct mail, email, publications, etc. through which we can communicate with our members, prospects and customers. What's important is understanding the kind of information that is most appropriate for this channel. Meaning...to date the mobile channel has really been most successfully used for those messages that are 'important' to the member and require an immediate response (ie: voting for the next American Idol; donating to the American Red Cross for Haiti relief; etc.).
I suggested that, when developing your communication strategy, that you identify information in a sliding scale of importance to your market (1 = not immediately important; 5 = must know it now!!!!!) and determine what channels you'll use to deliver the information by that level. So, an announcement about a new product line extension may be delivered via the Website and your monthly publication while a vote on a new regulation that will impact your business today may be delivered via mobile.
The best suggestion, as always, is to ask your members how they want you to communicate with them...then do it.