I contend you’ll find some unexpected gems in your membership when you bring everyday members to the table to help you uncover your association’s most relevant value proposition.
Recently in Osceola County, Florida, association executive Carol Platt invited (via personal phone call) a group of members to respond to my list of “need to have someone in the room from ‘these audiences.” The result: A big broker manager named Jeff. An agent named Kathy, and a small broker called Jacob.
The reason I ask for these members with no specific involvement in the association is:
1) They have no one to impress; they can be so very blunt and honest. And they were.
2) They talk in layman’s terms, not board and staff language.
3) They help you trust but verify your important member audience segments.
I also asked Carol to invite a few board members, past presidents and committee chairs, even though it’s hard for them to take themselves out of these roles and think like “regular” members. They know more. They understand the association. As a result, they often think they know what members need to be more successful.
This diverse group in Florida came together nicely. They pushed, poked and prodded each other a bit—all with good intentions. They had honest conversations, shared perspectives and, at the end of the day, they walked away with an enthusiasm for conversations many have never had before. We left the day with a notepad full of ideas to help all of us continue to OSCAR’s unique statement of value.
In Carol’s words, “Members were in the room to talk about what they do, what they need, what they expect and their thoughts about association value. Our leaders did what leaders need to do – listen and allow their perspectives to be challenged. As AE, my own perceptions were challenged, allowing me to learn and reflect on our service shortcomings and communication effectiveness without Jeopardizing my relationship with leadership. I experienced more than one “light bulb” during the day!”
Where to find your associations gems? Like America’s diverse and literal gemstones (turquoise from the southwest, tourmaline from California, emeralds from North Carolina, pearls from Oklahoma and quartz from Alabama), there are precious gems all around you, but perhaps in unsuspecting places. You just have to look for them.