A Process to help Define Member Value

The last couple of weeks I have met with a number of organizations that are re-focusing on defining their membership value proposition.

It is a smart thing to do because it is so easy in life to get lost in the trees of urgent matters and not see the forest. When we are selling membership, stepping back and seeing the big picture is essential. That’s because members want a clear and concrete reason to join and continue their membership.

So I wanted to share a quick three step group or team exercise that I use to help get re-focused on the big picture and big value that you deliver to your members. Here it is:
  1. Define and list all the features of membership. Yes, start with the trees not the forest. Put as many features of membership on the list as come to mind. It helps to hold and touch these features. So to help lay your tangible member benefits on the table. For those that are not tangible, print out descriptions of them from you web site to make them more tangible. One feature on your list, for example, might be your job bank another might be the membership social network.

  2. Assign benefits to the list of features. As a next step, write down the key benefit(s) that the product or service provides to a member. Be specific. For example, a professional association job bank means members access a trusted source to identify jobs specifically in their field. A social network means members can instantly connect with professional colleagues who can assist them with a particular problem or need.

  3. Connect the dots. Now that you have a long list of features and benefits, the next step is consolidating them into simple and concrete value statements. It is useful to center benefits around one of life’s BIG three motivators: Pain, Gain, and Fear. So, for example, a member can gain by joining because she is in the know about the top jobs in your field and is regularly connected to the prominent networkers in the field who can help her advance her career. Membership helps you get ahead faster.

This value exercise does not need to take a long time. And you do not need to bring in a facilitator. Why don’t you take a few hours to try this with your colleagues and post a comment on how it went?


Scott Oser said...

Hi Tony,

I think this is an incredibly valuable exercise and something that associations should do regularly. The reason I say that they should do this regularly is that if you do not do it for a long time and try to figure out benefits for all of your products, services and benefits all at once you will be completely overwhelmed and probably seriously consider not doing it at all.

Getting your benefits right is a challenge but with some practice and some time away from all the typical distractions any association professional can do it. All of the association staff members need to keep focused on benefits, not features and to step away from the day-to-day long enough to keep on top of the products and services they provide.

Tony Rossell said...

Thanks Scott. Good point. The add on to this thouhgt is that by doing this exercise regularly, you will come up with new value propositions to test in acquisition and renewals. Let the market tell you what it values.

carolanne said...

Hi Tony.

Good post and very interesting way to look at defining value.

Before an organization goes through this exercise, however, I think it is very important to ensure members have been brought into the process.

If you haven't first asked your members about what they value and need from their association and the services it offers, the conclusions you draw related to value will be completely off-base.

Surveying your members to make sure the services you offer are in-line with their needs and priorities, I think, should be an important first step in this very useful exercise.

Carol-Anne Moutinho

Tony Rossell said...

Carol-Anne -- Thanks for the comment. Verizon runs a TV commercial here that has the cable guy saying, "who had the idea of asking customer?" So yes, researching customers is very important. I, however, like using this process as a first step. It allows one to frame the value proposition. Research or market testing can follow. Tony

Aria Kerry said...
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razor quad said...

I really think your steps on refocusing are really good and I will try to use it on my organization. Lately we have been in a funk and your article will hopefully get us out of it.
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Maria@first years said...

This seems like a very good exercise. Although i have not implemented these strategies myself it would obviously be a worthwhile benefit for all members if implemented at a very early stage of evaluating a product. As Scott mentioned, it could be a difficult task to try and solidify and gain momentum on an exercise that will need a bit of practice to get the best results.

Maria Sherperr
Dublin University
The First Years Wave Stroller