An Executive Director's point of view
January 06, 2017: Different strokes for different folks
We know that some may value the magazine, conference, networking opportunities, or other services you offer, while others may not.
But your members' situations may differ, and that's where you'll face your greatest challenges.
So, try your best to provide each of them with what they want - not what you think they should want and not what you want them to want. And recognize that their needs may change over time.
Here are just a few of the variables that may dictate your members' needs:
AGE: Older members may be most interested in educational offerings and continuing education credits. They are often established in their professions and secure in their jobs. Younger members may prioritize lifestyle issues, paying off student loans, and finding jobs. For many, concerns about professional growth will come later.
WORK SETTING: Members employed by large organizations may enjoy more resources, have better access to mentors, and are accustomed to bureaucracy. Those working in small shops are likely to suffer from far more limitations and routinely make decisions "on the fly."
MARKETING REACH: Businesses seeking local customers will execute very different marketing strategies than will those with a regional, state, national, or international focus. And chain stores will approach administration, promotion, and facilities planning differently than will single-site boutiques.
FUNDING: Members with deep pockets will exercise much more flexibility in decision-making than will undercapitalized businesses. That will impact dues payments, employee travel, marketing, investment, and just about every other aspect of operations.
AUTHORITY: Owners and executives will usually possess decision-making power and may allocate resources that benefit their activities, even if it doesn't help other employees. Those who do not make their own decisions may have to ask permission to travel or to purchase association products, and their requests may be denied.
JOB DUTIES: Members who perform multiple duties on the job may display less loyalty to the association and feel less inclined to renew their membership if the area you represent becomes less significant to them.
So, pay attention to these differences and don't simply pitch to the "ideal" member - unless that's the only kind of member you want.
November 23, 2016: No judgment
Our efforts should be based on determining what members want, not what we think they should want.
And issuing "engagement scores," or grading them in some other way, is NOT the way to do that.
We should not judge the value nor the extent of their participation in the organization.
September 03, 2016: Listen!
They may not want to participate in the activities you believe are best for them.
They may not want to opine on social media, ask questions at educational conferences, or attend meetings you think will be helpful to them.
They may not want to be "engaged" in the way you think they should.
So, don't wrack your brain for new and "innovative" programs (unless that's what members say they want). That won't improve member satisfaction, retention, or recruitment.
Just listen to your members and do for them what they want you to do for them.
May 16, 2016: Unique
What does it do that other groups don't?
What will a member receive from you that it can't get anywhere else?
That's what you should stress when devising membership benefits and planning recruitment strategies.
April 15, 2016: No bells and whistles
Value increases membership.
When soliciting memberships and renewals, don't cook up a bunch of "cool" things to trick people into joining your organization.
Just offer value.
December 24, 2015: So you want more members?
May 05, 2015: Scientific societies
Here's a survey reporting what people expect from scientific societies.
April 01, 2015: Too much information
March 18, 2015: Member engagement
November 05, 2014: Engagement or satisfaction?
But we should not assume that members who are not "engaged" in these ways are less interested in the organization and its work.
Many "non-engaged" members are very satisfied with the group. And they may even consider themselves "engaged," even though they don't fall into the categories designated as such by association mavens.
So, find out what members want and then determine if the association is providing it to them.
Member engagement and member satisfaction are not the same thing.