Is relevance at the top of your list of goals for your association? Many association professionals are sure becoming more relevant is the key to your association staying in business for years to come.
Forget about it. Relevance is for losers.
You need to win with value.
I have no data to support this, but I’d guess that the most frequently used word with the word “Relevant” is “NOT”
No one says, “Wow, that association is really relevant for me.” They want useful. They want ROI. They want value.
The best way to deliver value is to talk to your members, take a genuine interest in their business, communicate effectively and over deliver on their expectations.
While the perception of value is rooted in dollars and cents, there is certainly an intangible aspect as well. You have to appeal to their emotional side as well as their rational side. Members will want to feel good about the value they're receiving, and see it in black and white.
Strategies to Deliver Value
- Answer members' questions – Create content, programs and benefits around the questions your members ask you every day. Share that content with your members on your blog, through videos, whitepapers, and other channels. No, you won't put out as much content as the rest of the Internet, but you don't have to. Not only will your content be relevant, but your content will have great value because it's targeted to the needs of your members
- Answer the questions they're not asking you – Seek out what’s important to your members on other similar websites, or by using Twitter, Google Alerts or question/answer websites such as Quora. Search for industry terms or topics and create additional content that shows your members how your association is in touch with their needs. You don't have to always create the content either. Even if you share information from others sources (which you should), your members will find value in knowing that your association is an expert and providing them with resources they need.
- Provide exposure to new customers - The number one reason most members join an association is to grow their business. A search engine optimized online business directory can drive traffic to your website and put your members in front of new potential customers. Having an online business directory creates additional pages on your domain, making your site more relevant in searches for your industry or area.
- Help them learn – Let them know about learning and certification programs. Giving members a way to stand out in their field will make them more successful and credit will go to your association.
- Save them time – What programs and benefits do you offer that saves them time? Be explicit in explaining the benefits to them. Where you can, connect this time savings to dollars. Use case studies to show how certain members have improved their business due to your association's services. Tell a story that other members can relate to and drive value from.
- Save them money – Do your members receive benefits and discounts that truly make an impact on their business? Did your legislative efforts save them additional taxes? Again, equate these activities to dollars. Rather than state that your government affairs efforts saved the business community $8,000,000, break it down and show how small businesses will save an average of $1,500/year each.
The goal is to deliver value in excess of membership fees and costs. Reward your members for their continued support by continually connecting your association's programs and activities to a dollar value.
Track and Share Your Value
Member loyalty is both an art and a science. The scientific part comes with measurement and analysis. With analytic tools and your membership management software, it's easier than ever to make a case for value.
When members join, log their reasons for joining using custom fields or tags in your membership database. Your staff can use this information when communicating with members throughout the year. If a group of members joined for certification programs, make sure those members receive regular updates on your educational programs.
Track benefits and your assigned dollar values in your membership management software. If your association has tiered membership levels, make sure you enter when each member receives certain benefits so you can report on it later and remind them of the value they are receiving.
Track the referrals and leads your members receive from your website. Sometimes the exposure your members receive from your website alone can justify their membership renewal each year. Make sure you regularly send them reports of how many referrals they are receiving.
Run insightful reports from your association management software to show members their involvement - annual dues, sponsorships, committees, event attendance, and more - with your association and the value they are receiving. Use that opportunity to ask them questions and learn more about how you can continue to provide them with valuable resources that help them grow their business.
Make sure you communicate the value of membership and engagement well in advance of renewal time, too. Members need to be continually reminded of value throughout the year, rather than in a once-a-year renewal drive.
For more information and details about creating value for your members, check out these recent posts:
- 4 Ways To Prevent Your Members From Finding Value In Your Association
- Top Questions About Content Marketing for Associations
- Creating the Right Content for Your Association's Content Marketing Strategy
- Why Chambers and Associations Have A Content Marketing Advantage
Your association has a lot more to offer than mere relevance. Help your members succeed, and they'll return the favor.
Don't afraid of change and trying new tools. Whether it’s moving to a new dues structure, starting a blog, launching a new service or embracing social media, it’s important to be fluid in meeting the needs of a new generation of members.
What have you done to make your association more valuable to your members?