When I talk to relatively new members there is almost always a 3-5 year gap between when the member started in the profession or industry and when they actually became a member of the association. When I see that many year gap I always go back and ask them about it. Why didn’t you join sooner? Responses always fall into one of three categories.
This is why younger members don’t join our association:
- Awareness – They don’t know about the association.
- Not for me – They know about the association but they think it is for someone else, usually someone more advanced in their career.
- Value – They know about the association and they know it is for them but they just don’t see the value of being a member.
We don’t have to conduct research with non-members because the reason they are not a member is one of these three. So now what do we do about it? Well, solve the value equation and the rest will take care of itself.
Members get value when we help them solve their problem. Before we can solve an important, pressing problem of theirs we have to know what the problem is. So we ask them: what is your biggest professional problem? Once we know what their problems are, we can select one problem that is important to members but also one that we are equipped to solve.
While solving the problem we may find we are innovating new programs, content, products and services. When we launch these new innovations we improve that value equation. If our innovations are indeed the solutions young members need to solve their problems word will travel. We can also use our insight into our members’ problems to link their problem to our solution in our member messaging.
Soon those who didn’t see the value of membership see the value of membership. Those that thought the association was not for them yet see the association has a solution for their problem and they understand the association is for them now. Those that didn’t know about the association learn about the association because other professionals who are just like them tell them about how the association solved their current, pressing problem.