Since I started working with associations 8 years ago, there have been a number of common challenges that I’ve observed. I often present these to prospects, clients, or at conferences and seem to always get head nods that indicate agreement. The point of this blog series is to point out that if you are also experiencing these, you’re not alone. Almost everyone sees themselves when they read or hear these observations.
Most associations know who their audiences are, or at least they think they do. The issue we see is that they often rely on things like member surveys to gather data. Worse, they sometimes rely on intuition or anecdotal evidence to inform their business decisions.
This is problematic for a number of reasons. How many times have you heard a senior executive say, “but, that’s the way we’ve always done it.” That particular sentiment is heard often in the board room, and, if the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything (other than you should be washing your hands for at least 20 seconds), this sentiment could not be less relevant in 2020.
Actually listen to your members AND non-members.
Your members will tell you what their pain points are. They’ll tell you why they are frustrated with your current practices, and will probably even give you feedback on what they think would solve the issue. This audience research is valuable qualifiable data…not to mention they’ll feel good that you’re listening to them. Their issues do matter to you and they will actually believe that once you let them tell you.
Furthermore, associations are constantly trying to figure out how to recruit new members. Almost every association we work with has non-member consumers. You have prospective members telling you that they value your conference, products, or educational material. What are you waiting for? By listening to engaged non-members and solving their issues, you will gain advocates and, likely, new members.
Up next: Content Utilization