When did you last hear the question: “Give me one good reason why”?
Years ago, I began asking members across the country for the one main reason they belong to their association. They responded with “my boss said I have to” or “I’m not really sure how to answer that”. It left me curious about how universal these responses were. With hundreds of member survey reports at my fingertips, I went on a search to learn more from the very customers I wondered about: the association member.
The data shows that business owners are no more likely to call out one common benefit of membership than a front-line practitioner. The new member appears least confident in their expectations about the one key benefit of membership. While I hesitate to generalize, from our research, few members answer the question the same way for the same association.
The findings made us curious to learn more about this dilemma. Do leaders have a similar problem identifying one main reason that compels members to pay attention from the day they join through their career in the industry?
While there is no lack of pride for what associations deliver to members, my hypothesis was that members don’t know the one main reason to belong because (1) leaders each have a different view of the association’s expertise, and (2) leaders focus on tangible relevance (services, tools, events) instead of the main, most relevant emotional rationale for belonging.
In fact, a regular preparatory step in the strategic thinking process involves asking leaders to identify the association’s top strategic issue. Common responses are “conveying the value of membership” and “communicating value.”
It is this value gap that led us to develop a process to help associations be clear about what they do well that members need most — their Value Proposition. After several years working with over 50 associations to test the process, it was time for the next big step: sharing the process so that all associations can accomplish this for their members, on their own. That’s when the idea for the book Breakthrough Value was born.
Today is a critical moment to re-evaluate why your association exists. The most recent crisis brings with it many unknowns that require associations to be nimble and relevant, starting with a group of worried, concerned, frustrated members at events that are beyond their control. It’s the associations that are very clear about how they help remedy their industry issues and calm the worried soul that will create loyal members beyond this crisis.
Isn’t it time to crystalize what you do well in light of what your members need most today? The one key emotional reason your association matters to your members so you can trust but verify a relevant rationale for belonging?
There is no reason why associations today should continue to operate a business without a Value Proposition. Breakthrough Value is a resource to help association leaders to uncover, discover and develop your one good reason. A simple and clear rationale for belonging to your association.
The book will release in late September. Learn more at www.breakthroughvalue.org.