One of the reasons we don’t spend enough time getting to know our members is we assume we already know enough. Every day information and data comes to us about our members and the general population. It’s easy to use these snippets to confirm beliefs we hold. But these kind of assumptions are risky because they may not represent your membership at all.
The flaws in general surveys
A national survey says growth of Facebook among Millennials is up so you launch an association Facebook page because you’re trying to attract younger members. It is the right thing to do, correct? Actually no, or maybe no. Just because Millennials are flocking to Facebook or Vine or Instagram doesn’t mean that’s the right place for you to build membership. Your members or potential members may be part of the national demographic but, may have very different media consumption patterns. Building a Facebook page for them could be a poor use of resources if you haven’t vetted it with them first. See an interesting statistic in a general survey? Before you act cross-check general survey data with responses from your own members.
Kitchen table research
Equally dangerous is the idea that my friend or colleague is a member. I know what they want. I know what challenges they have so the rest of our members must feel the same way. Similar responses across many members indicates accurate information. Don’t rely on one member or a handful of members to speak for the entire membership.
Lack of member segmentation
Likely there are different member segments that make up your membership – various generations, occupations, industries or titles. Each segment has diverse challenges and needs so it’s incorrect to assume that what works for one segment is going to work for another. When looking at data from your AMS or conducting member research make sure to separate the responses by segment so you understand each segment’s unique challenges, needs and behaviors.
Can you recall a time when someone on your staff fell into one of these traps? Make sure you’re not assuming what your members want. Ask them and get the facts instead.