Ask five association executives what their value proposition is and I’ll bet they will reply with some version of these:
- We engage in legal and legislative activities on behalf of members’ business interests.
- We provide quality education on important industry topics.
- We deliver data and market information to members, consumers and policy makers.
- We offer opportunities for networking among like-minded professionals.
- We enforce a code of ethics to support members’ professionalism.
Most executives see the association as a provider of benefits and services. A resource. An advocate. In fact, you are not there simply to provide, or deliver, or offer, or enforce. You are there to create value. And the whole point of the value is what the member can achieve or prevent because of what they get with what you offer. The tangible (bottom line) and emotional benefits they get in return for the dues they pay.
A value proposition clearly and simply states the reason the member is better off with your association than without it. Here are some ideas for changing the way you see yourself, and in return, creating more value for your members.
Look at yourself as a delivery mechanism for a better future and you will communicate in words and messages that resonate with members, rather than ad-hoc communications that report the news or are put together because they “have to” to fill the email.
See yourself as the delivery mechanism to help make members more credible, and market reports will take on a new meaning. You won’t just publish them; you will incorporate concrete, proven ideas of how members can use them with prospects and clients to grow their business.
View yourself as the best means for lowering members’ risk and your education program will take on a new level of importance. You’ll discover new and relevant ways to attract students.
When you first commit to a unified decision about the value you deliver, employees and volunteer leaders alike become invested in a new way to communicate to members.
Visualize how new members will view you when you set the expectation early about what a new member can expect from you in their first months and years in the business.
When you look beyond your products and services and begin to see yourself for the results they deliver to members, your answer will sound more like these associations who have discovered their unique value proposition:
- We work at the capitol so you can enjoy a better business environment.
- We provide practical education that reduces your risk and helps you do more and better business.
- We create opportunities to network with like-minded professionals so you can expand your base of business and your bottom line.
- We deliver timely and accurate market data so you can be more credible.
- We enforce the practices of our business to strengthen your image in the industry.
These value-based member benefits will vary by your member segments and your core competencies. Not everyone uses the same words, or topics, or offerings.
So, the next time you look at your list of member benefits, or your “About Us” webpage, look at it through your members’ eyes with your new perspective. Think about how the member sees your message. Convey what you do that they can’t get anywhere else.