Tag Archive for: Association membership

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

Membership: What’s in it for You? (678 words)

(678 words)

If you are taking advantage of the “member-only” products, services and activities that (fill in org name) provides—you realize that membership is a smart decision. You demand a reasonable return on your investment (ROI) in membership and you should get it. You have done more than the non-member outliers; you have invested in this organization. Simply put, you deserve more.

You differ from the other industry/profession stakeholders that simply take advantage of the (fill in org name) activities that serve the (fill in the blank) industry/profession. You have decided to actively participate with your time and resources. Let’s make sure you are getting all you can.

Several Years of Research

Over the last several years, Rigsbee Research has been conducting qualitative research in the area of calculating the ROI of membership in actual dollar numbers. Surveying members as to their perception of value in dollar numbers for every member-only feature delivered by their organization. Association and society members like you, have valued their memberships accordingly: in the category of Professional Development at an annual real-dollar value of just under $4,000. The number for the Business Solutions category is just over $7,100, with Knowledge Management delivering a little over $2,400.

Professional Development

Professional development and career growth are basically synonymous. Some of the member-only features are as follows:

  • Income differential through certifications
  • Gained knowledge and experience through volunteer leadership positions
  • Peer support and mentoring
  • Access to National or State Chapter resources
  • Special interest groups
  • Career development services
  • Peer and Industry prestige

Business Solutions

The business solutions category is a large one for many organizations. Some of the member-only features measured included:

  • Safety programs, education and resources
  • Business development and peer referral opportunities
  • Affinity or partner program discounts
  • Innovative business/practice solutions
  • Access to other organizations through affiliated membership agreements
  • Discounts on organization’s goods, services and events
  • Access to assistance at organization’s field or headquarter offices
  • Legal seminars and consultations

Knowledge Management

In days of old, associations and societies were the hard-copy depository for industry or professional knowledge. Today, membership organizations compete against Google daily; however to organizations that excel in knowledge management have found ways to make access by members to their vast resources quick and easy. Some of the member-only features measured included:

  • Industry research, benchmarking and compensation studies
  • Legislative updates
  • Member-only password protected knowledge sections on organization’s website
  • Industry/profession standards, regulations and codes
  • Printed and electronic magazines and newsletters
  • Member directories

Buying Motives

In the above listed examples of features of membership delivered my various membership organizations—your specific value might depend on your buying motive for joining and belonging. Of the six buying motives listed in The ROI of Membership, the three most frequent membership buying motives tend to be:

  1. Profit and Gain
  2. Fear of Loss
  3. Avoidance of Pain

With this in mind, consider the (fill in org name) to be your number one strategic alliance for success. Much of what you and your organization need to prosper is available to you as “member-only” features of membership. Just think how much more value the (fill in org name) could deliver to you in products, services and activities if there were twice as many members. Help the (fill in org name) to help you by recruiting just one new member this year. Then, help that new member to assimilate into the organization by influencing them to attend the annual meeting—and when they do—introduce them to your network of friends and colleagues. This will better assure their long-term membership.

Interestingly enough, we found that most membership organizations today are far better at delivering value to members than they are at calculating and communicating the ROI of membership. It has been quite common for various membership organizations to deliver, annually, in the range of $10 to $50 in return for every dollar invested in membership. What does this mean to you? While the (fill in org name) may not have communicated all the value they deliver to you, you can be assured that if you access all that is available to you—you will enjoy an excellent return on your membership investment.

Shift Your Culture to that of Recruitment Evangelism (744 words)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

Member Recruitment Evangelism

Recruitment Evangelism, is it possible? You’ve heard it before, “You’re either green and growing or ripe and rotting.” This has never before been truer in the world of trade associations and professional societies.  Too frequently, what your baby boomer aged members want is not consistent with what today’s recent college graduates desire. What’s an association executive to do?

Change your organization’s culture to that of Recruitment Evangelism. Help your long-term members to see the wisdom behind diversity and inclusion, especially in the generational area. Help them not to fear the young upstarts. Help your current members to see the value to them personally in your organization reaching critical membership mass industry market share.

Recruitment Evangelism, What’s In It For the Baby Boomers?

  1. Legacy; as the senior members of your organization see retirement closer than farther—thoughts emerge about leaving footprints. Help them to see the need for their life’s work to matter and to continue.
  2. Making a difference; when senior members mentor younger members, both win. The senior member gets the satisfaction on moving from simply being successful to living significantly. While the junior member accelerates their industry learning curves through accessing the senior member’s lifetime knowledge bank.
  3. Legislative power; your senior members have strong opinions on their industry and the role government plays in enabling or inhibiting commerce. The more members (market share), the greater the voice your organization will have locally, regionally, and nationally.
  4. More programs; with more members comes more money to focus on the specific needs of various contingency groups represented by your organization—and hopefully some of the new programs developed will be focused on the needs of senior members.
  5. Successful succession planning; many of your senior members plan to turn their business over to a child or children. Leaving behind, a strong and thriving association to assist bolsters their confidence in the next generation of company leadership and governance.

Three Conduits for Recruitment Evangelism

  1. Direct selling is the most expedient method for member recruitment but with it comes a price; time and treasure. Direct selling can be done in person and this method is the most effective but not the most efficient. Direct selling can also be done over the telephone which is very efficient but not as effective. For successful direct selling, employing professional sales persons is generally the only sustainable method. You can do telethons but the downside there is ineffective member assimilation follow up.
  2. Direct marketing, hard copy via the postal service or electronic via the Internet can be marginally effective however extremely expensive.
  3. Word-of-mouth, member-get-a-member is the best of all approaches because the cost is minimal, the human power is extensive, and the prospect is sold and assimilated effectively.

Recruitment Evangelism, Nurturing Your Evangelists

  1. Give your enfranchised members the correct tools that spell out, in no uncertain terms, the yearly sustainable real-dollar return on investment (ROI) on member-only benefits. This will help them to prove to prospects and colleagues that membership in your organization is a good business decision.
  2. Give your recruitment evangelists the organizational structure and support (ie committee opportunities, Sr./Jr. Mentoring programs, YPO programs) to help them effectively assimilate new members. When members join and stay, it’s a win for your recruiters.
  3. Give them some public recognition for their efforts at your annual meeting or some other appropriate event.

Understand the Circular Member Lifecycle

  1. Recruitment; the member joins the organization.
  2. Assimilation; the member starts to participate and feel welcomed.
  3. Engagement; the member starts to actively participate on their own without the prodding of their mentor or recruiter.
  4. Retention; the member is fully enfranchised in the organization and has been for several years.
  5. Evangelist; the member is so thrilled with his or her long-term experience that they want to spread the good news about the member-only benefits of participation in their organization and urge others into membership.
  6. Recruitment; it all starts again, see step number one.

For Recruitment Evangelism to become a reality, at the core of your culture shift needs to be an understanding of the real-dollar ROI your organization delivers. This is the basis for recruiting the younger generations that are dealing with working spouses, high-level involvement with their children, and the knowledge that they can seek industry knowledge quite effectively through the Internet. Your organization might consider abandoning its sacred cow activities in favor of developing communities of reciprocity for members of all ages. Prove to current and new members alike that holding membership in your organization is a good business decision.