Professional Association Members
There are nearly 90,000 trade and professional associations, and their members are typically some of the top leaders in their respective industries. According to a good friend who manages recruiters for the Discovery Channel, associations are tremendous sources of information used to identify professional skill sets, which aids in the development of hiring and retention strategies. Unfortunately, the recession hit associations particularly hard with many struggling to keep their member retention rates above 80% (anything below 80% is a signal of problems in the value offered to members). As economic conditions improve, it is a perfect time to focus on growing and strengthening membership. On October 19, 2012 (10:00 am – 12:00 pm), I will be sharing 5 incredibly effective ways to double chapter membership at the 2012 ASTD Chapter Leaders Conference, and here is a preview of the road map attendees will be using in my session.
Define Your Customers by Creating Customer Personas
As Millennials enter the workforce in increasing numbers, they’re fundamentally changing the way associations attract, retain, and engage their customer base. The engagement process is increasingly becoming complex, and associations must revisit their definitions of the ideal customer. This requires answering key questions such as:
What challenges are your customers facing at work? What is your ideal customer’s marital status? What is their urbanicity (urban, suburban, or rural)? By answering these questions, you start to get a pretty clear picture of the various types of customers you want to target, which reduces operating costs.
Develop a Buyer’s Matrix
Too often, associations use a one size fits all approach in their product and service offerings. This is an extremely ineffective strategy because, as the previous step will reveal, different customer personas have different needs. By developing a buyer’s matrix, the association will identify the most likely objections to becoming or maintaining membership, which enables it to create strategies for overcoming them.
Align Products and Services to Customer Needs
This may sound pretty obvious yet most associations make one mistake that drives members away – they fail to adapt as customer needs change. Customers who become members want products and services that address their pain points and make their lives easier. By continuously assessing customer needs, associations also will determine which industry and organizational trigger events can be used to enhance the value of the products and services offered. And doing that will make retention much easier.
Develop an Irresistible Value Proposition
The majority of association leaders do not come from a background in marketing and sales, so it comes as no surprise that there is an overwhelming focus on product and service features. For example, ask an association representative about their organization, and they’ll talk about a website or talk about professional development. The focus on features does nothing to entice a prospect or retain a member. So what’s the best approach? Read my article on creating irresistible value propositions for a simple formula that you can apply immediately to enhance the value of your offerings.
Create a Compelling Elevator Pitch
It’s imperative, at the local level, to effectively market the value offered to your members, yet few leaders know how to deliver a compelling pitch that makes people become a new member or renew their existing membership. Fortunately, the process of creating an effective pitch is fairly easy to develop, and with a little practice, can become a powerful membership drive tool. In a separate blog article, I outline a ridiculously simple process for creating strong elevator pitches that you can use immediately to compel people to invest in a membership in your organization.
The process outlined in this article is an incredibly effective road map that, when used consistently, provides the foundation from which you can double your membership fairly quickly. For a more in-depth explanation on using this road map, attend my session at the ASTD conference. If you can’t attend, then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free 30 minute coaching session. We look forward to seeing you at the conference and / or talking with you soon.
For more tips and strategies on creating highly engaging member experiences that increase membership recruiting and retention, visit my website at www.ictscorp.com, subscribe to this blog, and follow me on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook). By doing so, you will gain access to leading edge research on management and leadership development and have access to daily inspirational and motivational quotes that will drive your success trajectory upward. So don’t delay, follow me and think yourself to success today!