Associations should always be looking for ways to boost their members success. Our last post discussed how essential a Value Proposition is to success. We know from that article that understanding your association’s Value Proposition requires a deep understanding of your members.
With that in mind here are three simple steps non profit leadership can take to get to know members better.
1. Recognize who your members are and how you should segment them
Who are your members? This question is more complicated than it sounds and will shed light on just how many different people are part of your organization. Once you figure out who is in your organization you can begin segmenting them into different groups. In professional organizations newer members may be there to network and find mentors while older members may be there for group insurance or headhunting.
By segmenting you can also identify trends in your membership that you may miss otherwise.
2. Understand member’s expectations
What do your member’s expect out of you? Even if you think you know the answer to this question it is useful to confirm by asking members. After you’ve segmented members as suggested above try to get someone from each segment’s opinion. Take your time thinking about their responses.
3. Check how you’re performing against your member’s expectations
Reflect honestly about how your association is doing compared with what members expect. First look at things you are doing well. You may need to make adjustments or small changes it is important to keep in mind all the things your members are appreciative of. After that examine which expectations you are not meeting. Are there key expectations your organization is not meeting? Prioritize them and get to work on repairing it.
There are likely a third category of things your organization does that were not covered. This third list is a great to look at because it will have inessential services on it. Some (but not all) of these services are not valued by your members so why are you spending money offering them?
When you are ready to sit down with members to learn about their expectations check out our post on great meetings. Have you been surprised by what members find valuable versus what you thought was valuable? Let us know in the comments or on social media.
We all know that members join associations for the benefits that they offer. The benefits vary from association to association and can include special discounts, networking opportunities, conferences and more. When you pitch potential members your organization you offer a value proposition.
A value proposition is what an organization does, that will cause their members to realize tangible benefits through the use of their product or service. It is more than just the product you provide; or even how you sell your service, or distribute it. It is how you string all these components together to best serve your members and deliver real value.
When we provide group insurance at a reduced rate only we can do that for our members. We are not an insurance company but we can give them it as something they cannot get on their own.
Complex, Not Complicated
We want to make our value proposition as complex as possible. This means bringing together lots of little parts that members cannot get anywhere else. While some of your association’s competitors can offer some of what you offer your members should not be able to find everything that you have somewhere else.
We want to make our value proposition as clear and transparent as possible so members can understand what it is. If members cannot understand what you are offering them they will lose interest or become frustrated. If you are wondering about the clarity of your value proposition try explaining it to a long time member. This will help you build a value proposition that is simple to understand and reflective of your membership experience.
The Right Reasons
We need to understand value propositions for the right reasons. This means trying to give our members as much value as possible. It means wanting to know why our members come to us and why they leave. We do not want to set up a value proposition that exists only to tell members that we are good. We do not want set it up as a marketing piece because we will not have a clear and deep understanding of the value.
In order for non profit leadership to get the core of their value proposition we will need to understand our members. Check next week’s post for suggestions on how to accomplish that.
Did this post change the way you think about delivering the best value to your members? Let us know in the comments or on social media.
Most associations have their members renew annually but according to a recent article on Associations Now some are now offering a multiyear option. There are some things Association Managers should consider before choosing to offer multiyear membership.
The IACCM offers multiyear memberships.
How is your membership renewal done?
If your association handles all renewal online then offering a multiyear membership will only require a few additional forms. It will not be a challenging or time consuming to set up. This option may be welcomed by long time members who are comfortable committing for multiple years.
However if your association’s membership renewal is done manually multiyear memberships may end up saving your association time and money. Associations Now does note that there is a lack of data surrounding multiyear membership initiatives so it is difficult to know whether the time saved registering members for multiple years will be more than the time it takes to explain and pitch members on them.
Is it something members have requested?
The International Association of Contract and Commercial Management mentioned in their interview with Associations Now that their members requested a multiyear. If your members have never mentioned it to you or anyone at your association there is likely no demand for it. Your time is better spent delivering benefits your members have actually asked for.
What does your strategic plan say about membership?
Before adding another project like setting up multiyear memberships remember that it will take time energy away from another project. Consult your strategic plan and think about how membership fits into it. Does offering a multiyear membership fit well with strategies your associations already has? If it does check with person responsible for managing membership to see if they have the ability to add another project.
With all of that in mind your association should be able to make an informed decision about offering multiyear memberships. If your association or an association you’ve been a part of has offered multiyear memberships let us know about your experience in the comments or on social media.
A recent article on Associations Now sheds light on the trend of sponsored memberships for associations. According to the article the Society of Plastics Engineers started offering free student memberships in 2014 through a sponsor funded subsidy. In the 15 months since launching over 1,000 students joined SPE more than doubling the total number of student members.
A similar program “ScaleUp” launched nine years ago by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. It has increased membership from below 3,000 to over 22,500 students.
The main difference between the two programs is where the sponsorship money comes from. SPE is sponsored by another trade organization while AIChE is sponsored by corporations. Each funder has their own benefits and drawbacks but is clear they both can boost membership.
AIChE teaches students how to make liquid nitrogen ice cream.
What should your association do with this information?
Look at your membership demographics and identify any areas where you are under-performing. Millennials and students are two groups associations often struggle with. It is possible that they have never heard of your association or do not know the benefits of joining. By sponsoring memberships association executives can demonstrate the value and purpose of associations.
Seek out sponsors by looking to other professional organizations or corporations your members frequently interact with for funding. Be sure to explain the value of their sponsorship by giving them a concrete example of a time when a member from your association provided something they needed.
Would sponsored memberships work at your association? Let us know in the comments or on social media.