Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Has Your Membership Done for Me Lately?

This question is something that comes up with nearly ever association or chamber partner we talk with.  Measuring the true value of what you are providing to your members is a difficult and sometimes daunting task.  The key to uncovering the answer to these questions is to:

Understand Your Unique Value Proposition
What do you provide that your competitors don’t? Don’t reach for the standard answers such as networking, education.  Are you sure they can’t get that information someplace else? With the creation of social media, there is a lot of “free” information out there.  You can uncover this via surveying your members and not just going to the usual suspects such as networking, lobbying, etc.  Your hunch might come true, but it’s great to back those hunches up with data.  Electronic surveys are the way to go, they eliminate paper, and survey tabulation.  Does your Association Management Software (AMS) provide you with the opportunity to survey your members? Use the tools you have available to find the data you need to back up those hunches.

Show Your Members The Value Your Organization Brings
Depending upon your AMS provider this can be accomplished by understanding what you should be asking your database.  With the Weblink Solution this can be accomplished at the click of a few buttons with reports on Member Activity, Member Referrals, just to name a few of our standard 230 reports we provide to our association and chamber partners.  Being able to uncover this information can help you prepare for those difficult conversations when it comes time for their dues renewal. 

Listen to Your Members
Listen to your members, because they are the reason that your organization exists.  Sure, it seems basic but listening to a member who has a concern, no matter how big or small will go a long way in retaining them for more than your initial term.  This listening doesn’t just have to happen at conferences, you can uncover what they think about your educational programs, and other services by participating in the various social media such ask:  LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.  By doing a quick search on topics that relate to your organization whether it be a chamber or an association allows you to know what the “chatter” is in these arenas.  It can be accomplished by spending 1 -2 hours per week, or even more if you have an intern or staff member managing this aspect of your chamber or association.  Understanding what’s out there will help you engage members and spark them into action.   

Stay Relevant
In the book, Race for Relevance- 5 Radical Changes for Associations written by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers, CAE they point out what has changed about associations.  They talk about targeting your membership so that you can really understand what is important to them, along with fighting the status quo.  It’s a great read, and Sarah Sladek writes more about how membership is changing in her book The End of Membership As We Know It: Building the Fortune-Flipping, Must-Have Association of the Next Century.  She was also a recent keynote speaker at the ASAE’s Marketing Membership & Communications Conference where she talked about the changes that our society as a whole have weathered including but not limited to: the .com bust, the 911 attacks, and the Baby Boomer’s impending daily retirement numbers.   Her presentation was thoughtful and gave the audience a lot to think about.  What is your association or chamber doing to stay relevant?

Make sure that you have the right tools in place for managing the relationship with your members.  If your association didn’t exist what would happen? You might be surprised at the answer.  Keep your finger on the pulse of your members with your Association Management Software (AMS) system.  It can provide numerous ways to measure engagement and help you demonstrate what YOUR association or chamber has done for their members. 

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