Why do our members join?
It turns out that our most commonly held beliefs about this question are mostly wrong.
Myth #1: Members Join for Our Benefits
Members join to go to the annual conference. Or they join to get a research report or one of 15 other great benefits. Sometimes members join to gain access to a benefit, but rarely. Much more often, members do not know a thing about the association when they join. They could not name a single benefit if they tried. Most existing members can only rattle off two or three benefits. New members know even less.
Myth #2: Members Join for the Value
The membership benefits are worth $2,048, but members only pay $375. Or our solutions save members time and money. These may be why some members join, but overwhelmingly members do not join for the value. Do not get me wrong; value is critically important. While members do not join for the value, they may stay for the value.
Myth #3: Members Join Because the Association is the Leading Authority
Our organization is 75 years old and is the voice of the industry. Nope, members do not join for this reason, either.
All of this begs the question, why DO members join?
I have talked to over 300 members and heard hundreds of stories about deciding to join, actually joining, and what happens right after they join. Most often, members join for this reason:
Someone Said I Should Join
Over and over, members share how peers, managers, and others in the profession or industry prompted them to join. A peer invited them to a chapter meeting. Someone they respect is a member of the association, so they figured if that person thought the association was worth the time and money, they would find membership worthwhile too. A boss signed the department or organization up. A professor sent the team to the conference.
I estimate that of all the associations where members join at will, my guess is around 80% of members join because someone said they should. Since word of mouth is such a big deal, the most important thing you can do is delight current members and make sure they know why the association is thriving because members like them recruit more members.