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Are You Delivering Value?

In a lot of ways, acquiring new members is all about marketing. Cool brochures, solid reputation, word of mouth, presence at conferences, getting the word about your association out there to prospects, developing benefits you feel are exclusive to your association and that people can’t find anywhere else. There’s no reason not to join, right?

But it’s the renewal rate of those members that will tell you how well you’ve done on delivering value to them during their membership year. For it is then that a member sits down with his or her renewal notice and checkbook or credit card and asks an important question: Was it worth the money?

You can use a number of markers throughout the year to get an idea on whether you are delivering value. These, in turn, can lead to a number of questions to ask yourself and your staff.

  • Social media engagement. Is the office the lone voice on your Facebook posts, or are you getting likes, shares, and comments? Are your followers on FB, Twitter, Instagram, and the like increasing or decreasing? What sort of posts generate more engagement, and how can you develop a strategy to encourage more engagement? Are you meeting your social media goals (i.e., driving traffic to the member registration page)?
  • Event participation. Did you book a space for 300 and only 30 showed up? If 30, what was it about the event that lowered the anticipated participation? Cost? Timing? Irrelevant topic? Are your vendor participants increasing or decreasing? Are your vendors reporting solid activity from your members?
  • Participation in your magazine. Does your publication produce feedback? Can you add some member-specific areas to the magazine to encourage submissions, even if it’s a couple of pages of fun photos or member anecdotes?
  • Survey. Have you asked your members during the year what they like, what they’re using, what’s not working? How can those answers be applied to making short-term and long-term decisions?
  • Customer service. What problems are people calling in about, and what solutions can you provide to enhance their membership experience? It’s great that they are engaged enough to want to report a problem in hopes of a fix, but is it a recurring issue? If so, that one squeaky wheel might represent dozens of those who don’t care enough to call in.
  • E-mail and website metrics. How, when, and where are people navigating? What are your unsubscribe and open rates? Can you track what people are searching for on your website, and where they bounce off?

All of these items can give you an idea of how engaged your members are and what they consider “valuable.” If you believe that legislative advocacy work is of significant importance as a member benefit, yet when you send an e-mail newsletter about your work, make a Facebook post about it, ask members to sign up in show of support, and showcase it with a four-page spread in the publication and all you get are a couple of thumbs-up, no shares, a handful of signatures, and less-than-average opens, your members might be telling you something.

Being able to adapt during the year is essential if your staff feel as though they are on an island pushing information at members without receiving any valuable participation or engagement in return. You must be ready and willing to make the necessary changes to improve the member experience so that when renewal time comes around again, they’ll be much more willing to send you their membership dollars.

So put yourself in the shoes of your typical member, and be honest. The executive staff, board, and chapter leaders should all be asking themselves on a routine, strategic-planning basis: Is what we offer our members worth it?

Article written by:

Jake Smith

Publications Director

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Traverse City, MI 49686