Do you think you are losing members to competitors? Does it seem like over the last few years a bunch of for-profit companies have started selling services and products much like some of your individual member benefits? If they are succeeding, the competition is marketing and selling differently than you are. Here is how to fight back:
Finding a Point of Differentiation
Determine what unique benefit or bundle of benefits your association can offer that your members want. If competitors have started to produce research reports like yours. If they have started to offer professional training. If they are sucking revenue and profit out of core benefits it is time to innovate. Figure out what your best members really want from your association. Figure out what you can deliver quickly and without a lot of expense and start there. Develop a pipeline of new member benefits and non-dues revenue opportunities.
Telling Your Why
Associations generally message their “what”. A “what” is something like – we provide research, networking opportunities and articles to CPA’s. A “why” is the reason why the staff and board have poured blood, sweat and tears into this association. People are more likely to be captivated by your “why” not your “what”. Here are more details about developing your “why”.
If sales are down there’s no time like today to start making meaningful connections. A successful entrepreneur recently told me that she spends an hour every day making caring connections. She helps others. She cheers for others. She helps her network meaningfully network. And she’s built quite a following. The same works for associations. Make connections with old, recent and current members. Make connections with vendors and folks aspiring to get into the industry.
One of the things I hear over and over in research is member’s desire to have their association help them make more meaningful connections. Not just create forums or physical space at a conference but, to personally make introductions to other members for mutual benefit.
If your association was once successful but now you are losing members to competitors, it’s time to pick some new paths. Start by developing a pipeline of differentiated member benefits, incorporate your “why” into marketing messaging and make connections for yourself and for your members.