Unlock the Hearts and Minds of Your Members
Can’t shake the feeling that the association could be doing more? Are we serving members well enough? Are we solving their problems? Do they turn to our association first when they have questions? Are we forward looking enough? Do members get enough value? What kind of experiences are we providing? These are the questions we ask. And these questions seem unanswerable.
Perhaps we have tried to get at the answers in our own association’s data. Or maybe we fielded member satisfaction surveys. The data and surveys were helpful to a point but still we have more questions than answers.
It may be time to do a big strategic overhaul, or kick-start our innovation engine, or just the perfect time to check in with members and make sure we are on the right track. Our big questions about members don’t need to go unanswered. Members hold the key to all this information as long as we ask them in just the right way. Members think the association is important. They feel great about giving their feedback and are very willing to give objective and accurate insights on their biggest challenges, their perceptions and opinions.
Hello! I’m Amanda Kaiser
I am a qualitative member researcher. In addition I write this blog for association professionals, keynote and speak at association industry conferences and guest author articles.
Starting my career in brand marketing at Crayola I learned the fundamentals of strategy, marketing and innovation. I led my team to grow the company’s largest and oldest business, the crayon segment, which was no mean feat! Most recently I was the director of marketing for the National Association of Colleges and Employers. This experience gave me ground-level access into the new challenges of membership organizations.
I earned my MBA from Lehigh University in ’02 but estimate that I have earned another 3 MBAs since reading business books and taking courses on modern marketing, market research, innovation, strategy, change management, sales, entrepreneurship and more.
This great on-the-job experience and education has taught me that there are things we do that actually drive members away and simple shifts can make a big difference. Additionally, associations are complex which makes finding a clear path forward ambiguous and difficult. Here again members hold the answers.
The detective work behind figuring out what members need and will need in the future is fascinating. Usually it’s not a cheaper price. What they want is to connect. They want a solution to their problem. They want to save time. They want to make a difference. They want to be in the know. They want to belong. They want to make the right decisions. They want to have a great experience. There are big opportunities for your organization to serve members, we just have to uncover them.
There is massive opportunity for associations today
I have completed 313 member interviews and counting. At roughly an hour apiece that’s over 7 forty-hour work weeks of talking with professionals about their professional problems, industry challenges, future trends and opinions about their association. Here is what I have learned so far:
Prove value early
Associations that show value early, within the first week or month of membership have higher member engagement the life of the member verses those associations that do not. I coined this the Association Value Trigger Point. Do you know what your AVTP is? Are you levering your AVTP to serve members better? If the association does not have a AVTP there may be the danger of pushing new members away.
Start off with a great member experience
We’ve all felt frustration upon learning that members only remember a fraction of the benefits we provide. But members do remember experiences. How does the association make them feel? Value is half of the equation, experience is the other important half. We need too know what members experience when they are at our conference, what it is like to join and their feelings when they try to network with others like them.
We’ve just scratched the surface on what member’s find meaningful
There are some very unconventional ways in which associations can help member be better professionals, even better people. We are teaching them professional skills but are we helping them take action on what they’ve learned? Networking can be superficial at association events but what if curated networking helped members feel supported, validated and affirmed? We lead with professional skills but it is those soft skills that professionals, our members, need.
Think you might like to work together?
Members hold all the answers, we just need to ask the right questions in the right way.