Take A Chance On Your Members!
My family loves board games. They are a great way to bring our family together and energize our competitive spirits. One of our frequent go-to’s is Monopoly, where strategy is key and the objective is to outsmart your opponents by acquiring the most valuable assets and properties.
After years of playing Monopoly, I’ve come to the realization that there is a lot about this classic board game that applies to membership associations. You may not realize this, but associations actually used to be considered monopolies. They dominated the marketplace and didn’t have much competition, making it easy to attract and retain members. Back then, the value of being in an association was, well, being in the association. Belonging to a membership organization was a societal expectation, and for a while, that was sustainable. Over time, however, economic shifts and demographic changes began to negatively impact these organizations, causing membership to flatline. Much like in the game of Monopoly, it began to feel as though they were rolling bad dice – but it wasn’t because of luck or chance.
It is not just a series of bad events that are plaguing associations – many have simply lost sight of their value proposition and relevance in today’s world. A value proposition is a targeted and concise promise or statement to your members and a cornerstone of your organization. The purposes of this message are threefold:
- It should clearly explain what your association will deliver.
- It should communicate why members should join.
- It should describe what your members will experience or receive as a result of their membership (this is also referred to as their ROI or return on investment).
For centuries (yes, centuries!), organizations offered the same simple value proposition: you will have access to our community by joining our association. Members could attend meetings, conferences, and exclusive events as part of their dues – and that was enough. Today, the rules of the game have changed, and your members want more return on their investment. Rapid evolution in technology, our economy, and society as a whole has led to a shift in expectations, needs, and wants from members. I’ve been able to decipher the dos and don’ts of value propositions in my work with associations:
DON’T…Offer networking as one of the benefits of your organization!
Simply put, networking is not enough. There are a host of digital platforms (i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) your members can use to network. What other types of opportunities do you give your members to come together as a community and connect?
DON’T…Include “advocacy” as part of your value proposition.
Advocacy benefits everyone, not just your members. Therefore, it’s not a “real” member benefit!
DO…Allow your members to learn and lead.
Your members will feel a deeper connection and be more engaged with your association if they genuinely feel like they are making an impact. Give them opportunities to get involved. Remember, your NextGen pipeline will determine the lifespan of your association. By giving the next generation of members meaningful roles within your organization, you effectively plan for a more profitable and productive future!
It’s time to look within your association and consider whether your members feel like they’re on Baltic Avenue – or winning it big on Park Avenue. By revisiting your value proposition and tailoring it to your members’ needs, I guarantee your association will have a monopoly once again, standing out amongst the competition.
Interested in diving deeper into your membership strategy? Let’s get in touch and find out what your association needs to reach the top.
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