An Association Executive recently asked the meaning of rational relevance in the context of member feedback.
First off to clarify, we aren’t talking about a rational or irrational member!
This alternate interpretation highlights that not all member benefits are created equal. Members prioritize the value of association services depending on where they are in their career, the environment at the time they learn about and use your services, what they pay, among other factors.
Members also consume association services through a different lens: Does the service or offering, or membership as a package satisfy rational or emotional relevance? Here’s a distinction:
Rational relevance (or sometimes called tangible relevance) is a member’s perception about the exchange of services; what they get in return for the money they pay. For example:
- “Based on this class I just took I’m getting, or not getting, a fair return for what I pay.”
- “You sometimes answer the phone when I call and sometimes it just rings until I hang up.”
- “Your <proprietary industry technology tool> makes such an impact in my work that it makes my membership worth anything I pay.”
If you ask a member if they get a fair value for the dues they pay, the uninvolved members response most likely considers rational relevance – the exchange of the dues they pay for something in return. A member who’s considering rational relevance doesn’t much look at the big picture. They evaluate their individual experiences on tangible services and offerings.
Emotional relevance is at the heart of the value mystery. Discovering and then conveying the ultimate benefit of your offerings changes member perception. They begin to look at your association for the problem you solve, beyond the service you offer. Emotional relevance:
- Meets a core business need (like lowering their risk or helping them be more credible in front of the buyer/seller).
- Offers the ability to accomplish more – to move their business forward.
- Reduces risk so the member is more confident or is more credible with their customer.
Emotions influence perception, content of thought and decision-making.
The best example of emotional relevance is the elevated perception that your involved leaders have for your organization. There’s not a one-for-one exchange of time to money. Emotional relevance for involved members comes from understanding more about the association, having a voice in its future direction and the intangible benefits of getting to work side by side with other leaders. The benefits that come from this involvement is not tangible, and not necessarily measurable. This is emotional relevance.
When you discover the value that your association offers, the more relevant your message will be to an emotional return on investment, and the better chance you have to get their attention.
For more information, you can learn more about solving the member value mystery at www.membervalue.org.