One of the questions Associations are asking themselves right now is: how can we communicate the value of our membership? When so much has changed due to the pandemic, the cost versus return of Association membership is being brought into sharp focus.
We know the perceived value of membership is key to why organisations become members, renew or stay engaged. However, how we describe and communicate value is a common challenge for all Associations.
A good place to start when communicating value is to ask: ‘What does value mean to our members?’ and ‘How is that reflected in our business model?’
What is value?
The definition of value includes: “the worth of something in terms of the number of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange” and “equivalent worth or return in money, material, services etc¹”. Value is something in comparison to something else, it is subjective, and it fluctuates.
The value of your membership value may be being compared in financial terms, time, exposure to market, or it could be educational.
People’s perception of what is valuable will determine how your membership value is perceived.
What is your value story?
Associations need to finely tune the stories they tell about their value in ways that make sense within the context of their member’s world. These stories need to communicate your membership value so that it is perceived as important, justifies ongoing commitment, and delivers a strong return on investment of money and time.
The below Value Storytelling Framework provides four spectrums to reframe how you talk about your membership.
Spectrum One: FINITE TO INFINITE
Do you speak to your members about the tactical work you have done, or could you talk to the goal you’re working towards for your industry and members?
An infinite conversation is about the goals you are working to achieve: the advancement of your profession, raising awareness of your issue or profession, etc. Then, you can outline how you have done that, including your marketing and events.
Spectrum Two: MATHEMATICAL TO MONEY CAN’T BUY
Some Associations talk of the mathematical value of membership, adding up everything that they offer less the cost of membership. This isn’t value, it is an equation of monetary exchange.
Could you talk to the ‘money can’t buy’ experiences you provide such as the networking opportunities, the learning you provide and the exponential gains? Your member should be excited about the possibilities of membership.
Spectrum Three: FEATURES TO BENEFITS
If you print a matrix of ‘things’ you deliver and tick the relevant columns, your Association is talking about features. Whilst it is important to outline the inclusions of membership, it’s best not to lead with it.
Could you lead with a benefit conversation, which is typified by talking to the net outcome of being involved with your Association, and the impact you will have? What is the benefit of what we can do together that we can’t do separately? What are the benefits you provide for your member’s brand, sales, staff experiences and culture that they can’t get elsewhere?
Features talk about you; benefits talk to your members.
Spectrum Four: PRODUCTS TO PURPOSE
Similar to the features and benefits flip, products, such as training, are important to communicate however it might be time to switch your communication and talk to your purpose first.
To galvanise a community and inspire loyalty, the conversation needs to turn toward purpose – the higher reason for coming together or the goal we collectively wish to accomplish. Your purpose is what will attract the right members; your products will keep them paying. Sometimes your products will attract people, however your purpose will keep them connected. You can dial these up and down depending on the current context.
Access Zadro’s White Paper for Associations: Communicating Your Value to Members Year-On-Year to get the insights you need to revise and refresh your value proposition and spearhead your membership retention, engagement and growth strategies.
CLICK HERE to find out more and access the White paper.