Our Members’ Automatic-Minds Do Not Want to be Engaged

Written by Amanda Kaiser on June 26, 2018

Our brains are on auto-pilot much of the time. Have you ever climbed into your car and got lost so deep in thought that you were surprised when you turned into your destination? Car-driving auto-pilot happens because our brains rely on habits to cut down the cognitive load. When you get on a bike, you peddle, you do not have to think about balancing, steering, and staying upright. The automatic side of your brain knows what to do and will do it for you, and this side of your mind is always on.

Scientists have found that our minds conduct both the automatic-thinking talked about above, and reflective thinking. The thinking you are most aware of is reflective. You use reflective thinking to plan to go on a diet, figure out when you are most susceptible to cheating, and throw your stash of nacho chips in the garbage.

Unfortunately, automatic thinking can undermine that diet. You might become aware of automatic-thinking when you find yourself at your desk at 3 PM with an illegal Dorito in your mouth.

Of course, our members use both modes of thinking as well. Using their reflective-thinking, they know they should carve out an hour to scan the website and see what their new membership is all about. But their automatic-thinking steers them to spend their time doing what they usually do, which is answering emails, responding to immediate issues, and following that day’s schedule.

Our member’s reflective-mind may want to explore all the association has to offer but first, the reflective-mind has to overcome the automatic-mind - and that is a tough battle to win. While the battle against the always-on automatic-mind seems unwinnable, do not worry, there is a way! And that way is to co-opt the automatic-mind into service.

The automatic-mind steers members to their inbox every morning. Take advantage of this by having a super relevant, super quick, super engaging email waiting for them. The member’s automatic-mind will prioritize voicemails and so why not leave a super welcoming, super friendly voicemail for them? When our members attend an association event, their automatic-mind will take them first to registration. Let’s use that time to make a super great first impression.

You might have guessed it, new member onboarding programs are the tools that slide past the automatic-mind’s gate-keeping to attract and engage the reflective-mind.

Associations can no longer be passive about new member engagement. Our members are so busy that their reflective minds and their best intentions will never win out over their automatic-thinking. From now on, we have to nudge them to engage with the association.

For more information on just how exactly to nudge members into engagement, grab your copy of the New Member Engagement Study co-conducted by Dynamic Benchmarking and me. It’s free, easy to read, and full of actionable tips you can use right now!

(H/t: The Choiceology Podcast, a new podcast by Dan Heath sponsored by Charles Schwab, episode 2: The Big Impact of Small Changes.)

This piece was originally published on Smooth the Path, and can be accessed here.