For-profit companies do detailed, almost scientific, segmentation studies. They know the customers or consumers who get the most value from their products and services and they lean heavily into this group. They talk with them, they learn their problems, goals and habits. These companies define arch-types and use that arch-type when talking about new strategic, marketing or innovation plans. They focus on the top of the pyramid. They love the consumers who love them the most. They become better by narrowing their focus and serving that niche better over and over again.
I get the sense among association professionals this concept is not really okay for most associations. My guess is because we are the voice of the industry or the voice of the profession we have to be more inclusive. We are the association for all professionals in our profession. Therefore we can’t pick favorites. But here’s the problem, we don’t have the resources to serve every type of member with every type of problem, often competing problems, really well. Instead we become more generic serving most members in an average sort of way.
How about if we rethink the original premise?
Welcome everyone but partner with the best members
We can use our data to figure out who our very best members are. Then we can use our data and other methods to get member insights and find out what is common between them, what their problems are, what their goals are and what their needs and preferences are. We can use this information to solve their problems and provide them more value. Soon they become even more engaged and they start telling others like them. We also start telling the story of the members who value the association the most and we attract other members like these best members. The community grows with like-minded, like-problemed members and the association grows stronger.
It is okay to welcome everyone. But it is better to serve only some. The best ones, the most forward-thinking ones, the most engaged members. These members are the professionals who will help us make our industry or profession better.