Marketing guru Michael A. Goodman says it best: “Start by defining your target audience very precisely—the narrower and more specific the better. Learn what makes them tick, how they think, what they value, attitudes, habits, practices, needs, current experiences, emotional connections, even the words they use when they discuss your category and their unmet needs.”
Only THEN go to work on developing your value proposition.
“It’s too easy to take the shortcut, based on what YOU think and what YOU want. That’s a quick way to get in trouble. Better to assume nothing and ask the target audience for input first…and THEN test everything.”
ACAR’s Value Proposition committee (staff and members) recently invested a day in search of a target audience. Then they spent time determining and prioritizing their needs. Easier said than done.
Associations want to be all things to all members. We’re hesitant to single out any one group or exclude any segment of members. But the consequence of not making a conscious choice results in a diluted or generic value proposition that no member will relate to.
The committee rose to the occasion. They defined three member groups and then set about identifying attributes, wants and concerns of each group. The members of the target audience were the litmus test. If they couldn’t connect a concept to a target audience, then it was taken off the table.
The process was enlightening, difficult, and necessary. They questioned everything. Most revealing was how hard it was for staff and leaders alike to take off their association hat and think like a grassroots member.
While the process was not a traditional approach, the most important part was to see the association from the members’ view; zeroing in on what consumes their thinking. This is the first step to defining value.
Four key themes were identified. These themes will be the foundation for developing value proposition content and messaging. In the coming weeks you’ll begin to see the tangible results of the group’s work.
And that work is better because a group of committed individuals, including the ACAR President, Executive Committee, AE, and local and state staff are involved in the process—striving to develop a different perspective in order to relate to ACAR members in a new and better way.
Third post in the series: “Marc Lebowitz, ACAR’s Association Executive gives an update on the process so far.” Click here to view.