The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

9 Critical Points to the New Association Membership Model

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Wed, Nov 13, 2013


Today's guest post is written by Susan Young, CEO at Get In Front Communications.  Connect with Susan on Twitter at @sueyoungmedia or by email.

Open Books and ContentHas your association been scrambling for content? There’s an underlying issue that must be addressed before you can consider the information to share through websites, newsletters, and marketing materials.

How can you find out what members of your association really want to read or view?  How can you deliver relevant and compelling articles, blog posts, videos, and other fresh content on a consistent basis? 

It’s time to stop scrambling and start thinking about the challenges people are struggling to overcome. Take a closer look at the aspirations and goals your target audience works to achieve every single day.

The needs of your members will drive your content.

Please re-read the last few sentences.

When you address challenges and aspirations, you will discover the content your members are desire. Can your organization fill this gap, or will people go elsewhere because they aren’t getting what they need from their investment?   

Craving Communities

We join organizations because human beings crave a sense of belonging and community.  

Scientific research proves that bonding with people who have similar interests fills an emotional hole in each of us. Unfortunately, a majority of trade organizations have spent too much time on promoting the benefits of the group while failing to understand that benefits don’t fill emotional gaps.  

Associations must revamp outdated and ineffective membership models.

In order to build vibrant communities, you must:  

  • Show true empathy and understanding of member’s intentions and goals
  • Address the constraints members face while working towards their goals  
  • Provide an experience that is highly relevant and cannot be duplicated by competing groups   
  • Focus on stakeholder outcomes and results, asking the question: “How can we help?”
  • Speak to the WHY someone should join vs. the WHAT does the group have to offer? 
  • Think about emotions first and intellect second
  • Commit to a deeply personal approach to branding
  • Know what members and potential members want to achieve, both professionally and personally
  • Ask quality questions in order to obtain quality information

Jeff De Cagna writes in the Texas Society of Association Executives magazine:

“From a business model point of view, associations would be better served by devoting more of their human capabilities to the work of new value creation…for many organizations the process of selling membership has become an all consuming effort to persuade increasingly skeptical stakeholders something they seem otherwise unwilling to do. The work of business model innovation offers associations to reconsider the narrow focus on membership in favor of more open and inclusive approaches to new value creation.”   

For example, savvy leaders at professional associations are beginning to see the value of providing timely and relevant content that they don’t have to create. Holly Regan, Managing Editor at Software Advice, blogs about the benefifts of hiring former news reporters to compile and curate content from outside sources and format them as newsfeeds for their websites and e-mail marketing.

Think of this new business media as a daily or weekly collection of noteworthy news for your niche. John Sacerdote is president of the National Association of Personnel Services, or NAPS.  "The NAPS newsfeed is positioning us as a trusted source for industry news. It's remarkably simple, affordable, and powerful."

The content and information you share with members can drive the growth of your association. But it all begins with knowing what content your members want, and why they want it.

Image Credit: Flickr, opensourceway 


Free eBook \u002D 10 Things Members Want from Your Association Website  

Topics: web strategy, content strategy

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