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Membership is a Drag on Growth? Time to Rethink!

association membership

Membership at many organisations has either stagnated or decreased, as the highly competitive landscape drives professionals to seek service offerings and experiences elsewhere. This accents the need for associations to personalise their products even further in order to develop meaningful relationships with their members.

Organisations that are not well-equipped to deliver tailored services run the risk of hurting the strength of membership engagement. They must become more member/customer focused and develop targeted strategies to serve the needs of their member or customer segments.

So, what do key member segments require in order to achieve their objectives? Are current offerings sufficiently aligned to deliver value for each segment? Bearing in mind membership duration, area of focus and state within the membership lifecycle, associations need to rethink the design of their product offerings. How do they correlate with the quality of member relationship? And how have these relationships evolved over time?

While needs and requirements keep changing, it all comes down to optimising product design in order to create more value for members or non-member customers. Many service offerings may be suitable to meet basic needs, but can they help members achieve personal objectives? Are they designed in a way that demonstrates the provided value for money?

In regards to the association brand, associated product offerings, and member benefits, here is what you need to know in order to maximise value for your members:

Perceived strengths
• Reputation
• Instructor led (face-to-face) training
• Annual meetings and regional or local conferences
• Certifications or accreditation

Desired improvements
• Be more member/customer focused
• Provide me and my organisation with competitive advantage
• Help me achieve my personal and/or professional goals
• Improve value for money
• Make membership and product offerings correspond to my needs
• Improve the variety of member/product benefits

Member and customer needs may change over time. but if they are ignored associations run the risk of compromising the relationship built over time. What worked in the early years will not be sufficient to sustain engagement nor improve relationships. It is helpful to think about product and member experiences in a different way, to make sure that the largest member and non-member customer segments (at each stage of their relationship lifespan) find sufficient offerings to strongly reinforce the value of membership or being a customer.

In 2017, MCI partnered with FairControl and recently launched the American Engagement Index to measure the performance, relationship strength and outcome of engagement tactics as seen through the eyes of association members and non-member customers in the USA. More than 87,000 members and customers of ten US associations were invited to share how they rated their association’s overall performance, its benefit and value, and preference for it over other comparable providers. Find the full report and explore its key findings here.

Looking for additional tips to stay up-to-date with the shifting industry landscape? Visit here for more.

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