Do you know whether your members really see the benefits of belonging to your association? Studies have shown that a majority of association members may report that they are “satisfied” with their membership but only about half of them feel like they have a connection with their professional organization. This shows that a lot of associations aren’t necessarily building loyalty and engagement amongst their membership.
How can you determine whether you are providing members with what they expect or desire when they join your association? Your attrition level is obviously one metric by which you can gauge whether you are effectively serving your ranks. If you are having trouble attracting and retaining members, then there is a problem. But still, you need to determine specifically what the issue is.
Poll Your Members
Start by taking a survey. Every organization is different and it’s a great idea to poll your members from time to time to see which perks they value most. Use the opportunity to also float other potential incentive ideas to see which would be most appealing. An example survey might look something like this:
“On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being not a factor at all and 5 being a very important factor, rate the importance of the following benefits on your decision to be a member:
____ The monthly journal
____ In-person networking events
____ The online job board
____ The online discussion board
____ The annual convention
Also on a scale of 1 to 5, rate the following not-currently-offered benefits on how valuable they would be to you, 1 being not valuable, and 5 being very valuable.
____ Licensing courses
____ One-on-one mentoring
____ Resume assistance
____ A medical benefits plan
What other benefits would you like to see offered by our association?
These lists above will obviously be customized to your organization. You will likely learn a lot from the results. You may also be able to determine whether certain perks are valued more by older members and others by younger members. You may also notice differences by gender, race, region and more. If your data does not allow you to sort the surveys easily by demographics, begin the survey with questions about the user’s gender, age, race and region so that you can pick out any trends that would be valuable to know.
Deliver More Perks and Benefits than Members Expect
One of the keys to attracting and retaining dedicated and loyal members is to overdeliver on their expectations. Especially if a given event, class, talk or offering is very popular, why wait another year or more to do it again? Was your meet and greet networking event at the local brewery a huge hit? Why not turn it into a series? Anytime you can go above and beyond, giving your members more than they expect, you increase your value and their loyalty.
It’s also a great idea to brainstorm and consider other perks you may not currently offer. Some possibilities:
· Create a members-only job board. This is an important and desirable perk that you should definitely have. Visit this article for more information on setting up a great members jobs board.
· Sponsor classes and webinars. Most people join associations to further their career and are looking for educational enrichment and learning opportunities. · Make it easy for members to communicate and network online. Check out this article for more information on engaging members online.
· Offer online professional counseling, mentoring or consultations of some kind.
· Create a searchable database of members on your website to help them promote their services to other businesses and the public.
· Offer a free subscription to a magazine or professional news source, or if you offer one already, you could add others.
· If there is a certification process for your industry, you could offer coaching and possibly paying the application and testing fees.
· Offer software subscriptions to apps that are used in your industry.
· Offer social media marketing services to help your members promote their businesses and/or promote some of your members and their services on your own social channels.
· Offer a mix of in-person and videoconference meetings for networking and sharing ideas.
· Sponsor volunteer projects. This has the added benefit of putting the name of your association out into the world in a positive way and possibly generating some good PR.
· Offer industry-specific insurance at a discount.
· Do you have an online store or merch? Offer free giveaways or a gift card good for use at your store.
Most importantly, you need to keep your members engaged and invested in your organization. Offer the types of events, perks and professional enrichment that they are seeking, and they will remain loyal members for life, helping you to recruit the next generation. Visit this article for more ideas on improving member engagement.