Thursday, November 8, 2012

5-Stages to Building Believers in Your Association

Every month, we as association executives, strive to build a value proposition and brand that make our association a priority in our member's daily course of business or personal development life.  When the dues renewal hits their desk, it is one of the top priorities to be paid.  In a bad economy, it's the one bill that doesn't get dropped.

Those are called BELIEVERS!  Everyone else is just members.  So do you have BELIEVERS or just members?

BELIEVERS are part of a revolution.  Members are part of an association.  So is your association part of a revolution of change or just an association providing services.

BELIEVERS believe they have a competitive advantage by being a member.  Members just belong.

Creating BELIEVERS in your association is about building a relationship with a member long before they are ever a member.  It's no different than dating towards marriage, making sales calls to convert a huge customer, or getting a big donor for a foundation.  Those don't happen without the following 5 key elements taking place first.   Creating BELIEVERS in your association is no different.

My question is, "how many of your association action steps with meetings and communications fall into the first 4-blocks before someone is a member and the first year after they are a member?" 

 The five key steps to building BELIEVERS are as follows:

TRUST BUILDING
People want to know they can trust you in all your efforts and activities...especially when they are giving you money.  A lot of associations suffer because their members don't really trust their activities...especially the "good old boy network" syndrome.  Trust is built when the association's actions match up with their words, and those actions and words are deemed highly valuable assets to their development or success.

DEVELOP CARE
After trust comes Developing Care.  Do your actions at events and your communications say, "We really care about your needs and want to help?"  Or does it say, "We want you to buy this membership so we can stop our retention falling off the cliff?"  Developing CARE comes more from asking questions about what a member needs and wants for their development and success, than shoving what the association can do for them down their throat until they join.
   
ESTABLISHING RELEVANCE
This is one most associations struggle with.  This is all about your value proposition.  Your relevance is the center of creating your revolution.  It's critical your association leadership establish "what you can do for your members that they cannot do for themselves, and that are really meaningful to them."  Once you do this and move forward with action steps to make them happen, you gain immediate relevance to your industry.

PERSONAL GROWTH
This is the area when people are on the verge of joining or have joined.  From here, they are tapping into your information, meetings, financial data, programs and services, and experiencing the personal or profitable growth that comes from being a member of your association.

REAL CHANGE 
This is where members make the change to BELIEVERS.  They see a tremendous difference in themselves personally or in their business by being a member of your association.  Your association now becomes a priority for them...they get involved.  They want to do more to be a part of the association REVOLUTION. 

My question is simple, "if you put the above diagram up on the wall and stuck a pin in for all your actions in the categories they belong, where would they be?"  For most associations, they would all be near REAL CHANGE.  Most associations don't care about you until you become a member.  With that attitude, all you get are members with a low retention rate.  You are stuck needing to generate more new members than you lose so your membership trend doesn't move south.  

ACTION ITEM:  Put the above diagram up on a board and put a pin in the block you feel your events and communications belong in.  Be honest.  Don't put them in places to make you look good...put them where they belong.  If you have very few in the first 3 blocks, you need to reshape your member recruitment and member engagement plan.

Building members is about a financial transaction.  Building BELIEVERS is about a relationship that you can trust us, we care about you, and we are relevant to your cause.  Tap into your BELIEVERS today, and build your industry REVOLUTION!

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