FYI Blog

AMMC Conference Update

Recently, Allison Porter, Dara Igersheim, and I attended the 2013 American Museum Membership Conference (AMMC) in Atlanta, which draws museum staff from all over the country, and from varying sizes of museums, for a packed agenda on all facets of membership.


One of the areas discussed at this year’s conference was how, as membership professionals, we are also customer service professionals, seeking to acquire, engage, and retain our customers/members/donors – something arts organizations, in particular, do well.

In his keynote address – Raising the Membership Experience from the Inside Out – David McNair of the McNair Group talked about how although we know that you only get one chance at a first impression, that first impression forms in an instant. Turns out that in just seven seconds, you generate about 12 impressions, and in 60-90 seconds, you’ve made up your mind. So you should steer clear of making what


McNair calls a “hollow engagement” – and make that first impression a meaningful one.McNair also talked about how we often influence people when we don’t even know we’re doing it. He diagramed multiple Engagement Zones surrounding each individual, from our “Personal Space” (about one arm’s length) to our “Zone of Notice” (about 10 feet) to our “Zone of Influence” (about 40 feet). David shocked the room when he revealed that most people come in contact with 500-1,200 people in their “Zone of Influence” each day. By being aware of how many people are noticing them at any given moment, membership professionals can be more cognizant of that influence and make sure it is a positive one that extends beyond just their personal space.


So what is the first impression potential donors/members have of your organization? What do they see when they walk in your door? What do they think of your member services team? How do you greet them at an event? Is your website user-friendly? Are your marketing materials accessible and readable? Are your mission and case for support clear? What is your organization’s public face? Much excellent food for thought, and a call to action challenging us all to rethink how we, and our organizations, are perceived.