August 25, 2014
Enhance Your Value Proposition, Know Your Audience, and Communicate Your Message
We’re all faced with it at some point of our association career: stagnant or declining membership numbers. We hem, we haw, we call in the witch doctors, but rarely do we get to step back and look at our true membership strategy. Twenty individuals had that opportunity on August 7th during a session on Membership Development that I facilitated with my colleague Mike Pennington at our Manager’s Summit in Atlanta.
Many participants said they attended the session because “We have no strategy” or “What we’re doing isn’t working.” Some attendees also felt that they were held accountable for maintaining and growing numbers with little to no Board or industry volunteer support. Mike and I opened the session for discussions on demographics that could be easily developed and stored into easy to use target lists, value proposition on what associations could quantify and easily show relevance, and messaging tactics to effectively communicate specific values to a variety of audiences. Here is some advice for membership development:
Make a List of Benefits to Serve Your Members
Your first step before you start communicating is to know what you’re trying to sell. Sit down with your team and Board and make a list of membership benefits including discount attendance and subscriptions, access to a member list, networking and free webinars. From that list, associate a value for the benefit. Try using a table to communicate which levels receive which benefits. Don’t let your value get lost in traffic of descriptive words. This exercise – and the value proposition that comes from it – will be useful to help guide your strategy and communications.
Know Your Audience
If you’re targeting an accountant, you wouldn’t use pictures to represent your benefits. If you’re trying to communicate networking, you wouldn’t send a text only email to solicit membership. Use key words that trigger a positive response to the demographics you’re communicating with. If possible, identify who the decision maker is in the company.
Connect the Dots
If you’re dealing with segments within your membership, select the top 3-5 benefits that would drive them to join. Create as many versions as necessary and tell them when they would benefit. Testimonials with a headshot of that person are free tools to promote membership and create connections within the membership.
Most importantly, keep communicating your benefits even after they join. It takes less effort to retain a member than recruit and convert a new member.