“We (the association) must be relentless in convincing our members that we matter to them in order to survive. It’s our job to show them how we matter,” said association executive Mary Cano in a discussion about planning for new ways to communicate with members.
Associations invest extraordinary time and resources to develop and fine-tune their product delivery chain, (including fundraising, advocacy, professional development, new member programs, etc.) but most FAIL to invest in the most fundamental of business success factors: figuring out how they matter most to their members.
The search of the most effective members communications usually begins with four characteristics that leaders and staff passionately agree on:
Inc. writer Jeff Hayden reminds us, “Like Jason Bourne, successful people don’t do random.” Nor do successful associations. Their leaders are intentional about what they do, because, as Jeff says, “They’re constantly thinking about why they do what they do.”
An association leader who works on all four pillars of their business use vision, processes, products and people (in equal parts) to reach to their strategic goals. When these inter-related systems work well, an association has an anchor to harness new ideas that fit into their vision, evaluate them and bring the best ideas to fruition.
There’s homework for each of these key business processes. Each begins with knowing how well you know yourself, deliver your key services, and the value members place on each of them. Soliciting regular (annual) member feedback and tracking it year to year will keep you grounded in why you matter to members, After all, why continue to create and introduce new offerings if they don’t answer a specific member need or support your unique value proposition that helps you stay competitive?
The common theme that weaves through each of these pillars is soliciting and then using member feedback as the intelligence to balance with other data and ideas. Conducting research once a year is the best way to trust but verify that your efforts will create better connections and business relationships with your members.
There’s a communications collective emerging from nSight Marketing’s work with associations. Our first project is a research project to compare the best-in-class associations and the keys to their success. To learn more about the project, click here.