Go ahead, ask your members why they belong to the your association? Ask open-ended questions, and I’ll bet your members will free flow with ideas.
If you ask them, members will probably answer with many of the same reasons associations were formed as early as the 1830’s: education, networking and referrals, information (in the form of research and statistics), forums to discuss common problems, and standards (or codes of ethics) to keep the industry strong. How about this: a sense of community.
In a challenging economy, the answers will be more specific and tactical.
From surveys from associations across the country, I find that members really want three things:
1. Teach me something I can use to keep me relevant with my customers,
2. Communicate with me about the market, new trends, and what you to advocate on behalf of the industry and my business, and
3. Help me make more money.
Let’s just suppose for a minute that every member wants some or all of these three things. Are these needs specific enough that you can answer them with your services, products, and programs? YOU BET YOU CAN. If you deliver on your members’ biggest needs, will you become more valuable to your members? YOU BET YOU WILL. Are these three member needs universal across industries? YOU BET THEY ARE.
If you haven’t recently asked these kind of questions, now is the time to start. Here are three tips to make your survey worthwhile:
1. Ask filtering questions so you can look at the responses by category (new members, or age groups, or full time v. part time members)
2. Be specific in the questions you ask so that you get specific, actionable input and ideas
3. Do something with the results!
Is it smart to trust (what you think your members think) but verify that it’s still true? Is today a good time to survey your members? YOU BET.