Unforgettable Associations Are Ones That Make It Their Business to Differentiate Themselves From Their Competition

What problems DO you solve?

Is there a brand that you love? Is it Zappos (Order tonight, they’ll arrive tomorrow, with free shipping both ways) or QuikTrip (gas prices are reasonable, but the ICE CUBES in that Diet Coke will make you wish there was Quik Trip all across the country!).

I’m curious – and so should you be – about what ONE single service or offering that members say solves a tangible problem, one that undeniably sets you apart? That’s the message that should go out now to every member before they get their dues billing. And make sure you can reach every member with that message.

At AAA (the automotive service), the value proposition is (first) relevant, (second) different from anyone else, and (third) they are really good at it. AAA is there when you are in a bind. On the road or in your driveway, they deliver emergency roadside assistance. When you buy their membership, you get (at least) three member benefits that help you sleep better at night: towing, changing a flat tire, or getting keys out of a locked car. You don’t have to worry about those three problems – anytime or anywhere. Association CEO John Wallace has no trouble writing that AAA membership check every year. He doesn’t think twice. You have a differentiator too – if you’ll only work to find it.

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When did you last ask ten staff and/or leaders this question: “If I didn’t have to belong why should I?” (Let’s face it; you have a faction inside your membership asking that right now.)

How will you respond to those questions? In reviewing your (collective) communications, I see a lot of group talk (we’re better together) or breaking membership down to $4 per day using a memberships services calculator. These features mean nothing if you don’t work hard to connect your claim with why it matters to them, like this:

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Oregon Association of REALTORS® went through this process to link what members most need with what they do best. Their value message is all about “Answers” – and they get really specific about the answers and information that impact a members’ business.

Don’t forget among your education programs, your lobbying efforts, and your leadership training programs to show and tell members how you promote them (like the Value of using a Realtor®). See related story here.

Don’t make members figure out what your association does that solves their biggest worry or problem. YOU do the work – and discover how your answer helps your leaders and staff hone in on what’s really most important.

Written by

Melynn Sight is the President of nSight Marketing. After spending 25 years in corporate, for-profit marketing and communications, Melynn works exclusively with association executives and executives on refining their communications with members. nSight Marketing is the first and best place to discover and then communicate your unique message of value. One that is relevant to your most important audiences.

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