Does a professional or trade association exist to serve its members? How about to serve the profession or industry? Or, perhaps the association exists to perpetuate itself?
Sure, your answer is based on your personal experiences. Unfortunately though, I have come to believe that there are simply too many people involved in association leadership today that believe in self-survival. Many of these leaders do not consciously realize they believe that the reason for an association is to perpetuate itself. Yet, their actions in this area speak so loudly that few listen to their words.
I recently visited the web site of ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership and searched “member value” but what I found was more directed to the organizational side. My lack of finding information specific to “member value” strengthens my assertion. Sure I found great information on subjects like: Identifying program goals and setting realistic expectations, identifying and defining the needs of the target audience, developing program structure, building a budget and cross-selling and up-selling additional programs and services.
While these topics are all great tactics, what about the overarching strategy for an association? What about quantifying the real dollar value a member receives from holding membership in an association? This is an area that I have discovered many association leaders are missing the point. There are a few people left that join their trade or professional association because it is the right thing to do in supporting their industry. But, at corporate belt tightening continues, many are re-evaluating the value of such memberships.
Call me crazy, but I believe that a professional or trade association exists exclusively for the betterment of its members. Associations like these are really industry-wide strategic alliances. And, for strategic alliances to succeed, all involved must receive reasonable value for resource (time and money) commitment to the alliance. In associations, staff members receive value—it’s called a paycheck. Volunteer leaders receive value through exposure and having the ability to forward their particular agendas. But, what about the “rank and file” members—where’s their value?
If you are interested in this topic of member value, you’re in luck.
I have conducted my Association Member Value Process for a number of trade associations and societies of association executives over the years. The results might be helpful to you in benchmarking the value your association delivers to its members.
In visiting seven societies of association executives from October 2003 through May 2004 and conducting the process: On the average, association executives received 19X return on investment dollar from their membership. Average yearly membership and meeting participation cost—$914. The average yearly real-dollar value received—$17,390.
In visiting the national conventions of four trade associations from February through May 2004 and conducting the member value process, the average yearly member return on investment was 12 X. The average yearly membership and meeting participation cost—$2,250. The average yearly real-dollar value received—$27,800.
A huge study I conducted for the American Society for Quality (finished in 2007) revealed that their members get $50 dollars in value for every dollar they invest in their membership.
Association paid staff and volunteer leaders must continually question the yearly sustainable real-dollar value their members are receiving rather than just see members as an ATM (automatic teller machine). Without the members, there is no association.
The key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.
https://rigsbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/rigsbee_research_logo-300x112.jpg00Edrigsbeehttps://rigsbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/rigsbee_research_logo-300x112.jpgEdrigsbee2016-09-22 19:23:492023-02-01 01:41:36Project Association Member Value (581 words)
The quick answer is a bunch! However, that is not the kind of answer that quality professionals generally desire. Today, armed with three years of data, I believe a have a substantive answer to this question.
Over three consecutive years (2005-2007), ASQ invited me to attend the World Conference on Quality and Improvement to conduct two sessions per conference of my Member Value ProcessTM. A random sampling of ASQ member, conference registrants, was invited to the sessions. This is a process, one that includes art and science, in which I draw from a representative sample of ASQ members, their belief as to how much dollar value they receive from their ASQ membership on an annual basis. This gives a return on investment (ROI) number for the attendees.
Most ASQ members spend under $200 per year on their membership and they receive about $10,500 in return for their investment. That’s over $50 in return for every dollar spent in ASQ membership. In anybody’s book, that’s enormous
ASQ membership, spend a dollar and get fifty back—it’s a No-Brainer.
Now that I’ve made such an outrageous statement, I had better prove myself. Listed below are the actual yearly sustainable, real dollar value numbers from the six sessions:
2005 Session 1 — $8,100
2005 Session 2 — $5,150
2006 Session 1 — $14,919
2006 Session 2 — $13,550
2007 Session 1 — $9,750
2007 Session 2 — $11,550
A grand total of $63,019, divided by the six sessions, equals $10,503 average yearly sustainable real dollar value that ASQ members receive. Divide the $10,503 yearly member value by the $200 yearly membership investment and you get 53 times the ROI. Rounded off, you get $50 dollars in return for every $1 you invest in your ASQ membership.
In each session, the specific value line items differed a bit, but there were some commonality among all six sessions. The top ASQ member value items were:
Recognized Certification @ an average value of $2,583
Networking @ an average value of $1,183
Training @ an average value of $1,058
Sections @ an average value of $1,042
Opportunities for Involvement & Leadership @ an average value of $860
Credibility with Customers @ an average value of $600
Divisions/Forums @ an average value of $460
ASQ Value Item
Opportunities for Involvement & Leadership
Included in Section
Credibility with Customers
Total ASQ Member Value Determined
You might have noticed in the above information that no value was assigned to the World Conference; there is a reason for that. During the sessions, I specifically asked participants not to include the value of the annual conference. My reason for this is simple. ASQ has a membership of over 90,000 yet only one to two thousand attends the conference each year. While it is undeniable that the conference delivers huge value to all that attend, I wanted to determine the yearly sustainable, real dollar value that ASQ delivers to the lion’s share of its membership. Needless to say, your personal value could easily be much, much higher.
The next time a colleague, or your employer, asks about the value you receive from your ASQ membership, tell them that for every dollar invested, you get 50 back in value—now that’s value!
The key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.
https://rigsbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/rigsbee_research_logo-300x112.jpg00Edrigsbeehttps://rigsbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/rigsbee_research_logo-300x112.jpgEdrigsbee2016-09-22 19:19:262023-01-31 01:39:36How Much Member ROI Does American Society for Quality Deliver to Its Members? (544 words & table)
Learn the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process for non-profit membership growth.
For trade associations and professional societies, identifying the value your members want without the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process can be a bit like threading a needle in the back of a Jeep, while crossing granite boulders, at 40 miles per hour—but it doesn’t have to be. Associations and societies exist to serve the interests of the participants or stake holders in their industry or profession—it is that simple.
Yet, extenuating factors, erroneous or not, frequently muddy up the waters of association or society focus. A very good argument could be made for the idea that too many association or society activities serve merely the vocal few in leadership. A convincing argument could be made for the idea that associations and societies focus too keenly on self-perpetuation. I am not going to make arguments in this article for these ideas but rather share my observation from two decades working with trade associations and professional societies.
Large associations tend to have a turnstile of employees. Young wide-eyed graduates with diploma in hand, go to work for associations or professional societies with dreams of making a difference. Then, they either become disillusioned or move somewhere else for career advancement. Frequently these young staffers start in member services department. Hence the problem—by the time they learn their job, they have moved on. The Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Processcan solve this problem by having stable and usable member value numbers for all staff and volunteer leaders.
Conversely, in the small associations, run by the executive director and perhaps a couple part-time staffers, there just is never enough time to follow up on those inquiries of potential members. Either the interested party must join on their own accord by filling out the membership application found at the Web Site by clicking the “Join” button or move on. This two decade old observation was painfully reinforced recently. The example I’m about to share, believing it or not, did occur.
One of my avocations is being the CEO of an IRS recognized non-profit public charity https://cigarpeg.com/. I recently decided that it would be good for me to join a related association so I called two California State Associations, one for association executives and one specifically for non-profits. As of the writing of this article, I have joined neither.
One of the two, I called and left a message with the membership person; she returned my call and left a voice message. That was the last time I heard from that association and it has now been a while. The second, I chatted with their membership person and am still waiting for an information package she promised to “get right out” to me.
In the situation with the first association, would it not make sense to you that the director of membership make a second attempt to contact a prospective member that called for information about membership? I just got busy and didn’t call her back. Had she called me back a second time, I believe I would have joined instantly.
As for the second association, I was amazed that when I asked the membership person about the value I would receive from being a member, she asked if I was joking. I was not, and was less than impressed with her lack on knowledge as to the benefits of membership. I have been even more unimpressed with her lack of follow through. I really did want the prospective member package to help me decide which association to join.
The issue is twofold, first how association and society membership departments track their prospective members. Many folks just need a little nudge, and they will join. However, when ignored they will put membership on the back burner, frequently forever. The second issue is knowledge. If a staffer has no idea as to the value that the members derive from their membership, how in the world can they influence industry participants to join?
Today, the model for business and professional persons is that they are looking for a return on their investment (ROI) rather than participating in their industry simply because they should. Yes, times have changed.
Conduct the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process for determining the yearly sustainable real dollar value of membership at your next meeting? The American Society for Quality did so, three years in a row, at their annual meetings and discovered that their members receive over $50 in benefit and value for every one-dollar invested in membership. For anybody, that’s huge ROI! The National Air Duct Cleaners Association learned that their members benefited to the tune of $17 received for every dollar invested. For the National Frame Builders Association we revealed that their members received $10 in value for every dollar invested in their membership. It’s all about return on investment, that’s something no association or society executive, staffer or volunteer leader should ever forget.
The most significant reason for my belief in the need for urgency—urgency for every association and society, globally, to conduct the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process at their next meeting is recruitment. Why wait to plug up the leaking dike of member loss when you can do something about it now?
The Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process is, or should be, the cornerstone for your next member recruitment or member retention campaign. The single most important activity, resulting from the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process, is for your association or society to develop a marketing brochure for your members to handout. This brochure will easily demonstrate why it is a good business decision to join the association or society based on intelligent ROI.
The number one reason, in my experience, why marketing and recruitment collateral materials and campaigns are not successful is because real benefits are left out. Too frequently, when I review the marketing materials of associations that are intended for use in gaining new members, all I can identify is features, rather than the bottom line benefit to the prospective member. As I stated earlier, most people that join an association or society in today’s business environment are looking for ROI, and not the warm and cozy feeling of serving their industry. However, too many paid association staff and volunteer leadership are still stuck in the old warm and cozy paradigm. Read my lips, it is ROI!
Follow the below listed steps and I assure you that you will not be sorry you did.
Association or society board of directors and paid staff review the specific value line items resulting from the process. Determine if more service and value can be offered to members under the most valued categories.
Board then approves the changes and allows paid staff to implement. (Important note here, volunteer leaders need to “keep out of others’ rice bowls” and tend to their own, or nothing will ever get done.)
Member recruitment brochure is to be developed based on the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process results. These brochures should be held for the next membership meeting, like the annual convention.
Keynote presentation on industry collaboration should be scheduled for the meeting where the brochures are distributed. The job of your keynoter is to get your members excited about what is possible for their business through accelerated collaborations resulting from increased association or society membership.
Keynoter announces the new membership recruitment campaign and asks for a commitment from each member to personally give out 10 brochures to colleagues and industry participants.
The question of prizes for membership recruitment is frequently posed by association leadership. I am neutral on the subject; however I would recommend that you consider this: Do you want your members recruiting for tangible prizes or for the benefits they will receive through increased industry collaboration?
https://rigsbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/rigsbee_research_logo-300x112.jpg00Edrigsbeehttps://rigsbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/rigsbee_research_logo-300x112.jpgEdrigsbee2016-09-22 19:10:022023-02-01 01:50:21Member ROI Valuation for Recruitment at Associations and Societies (1279 words)
Ride the Member ROI Wave to Accelerated Organizational Growth
State associations, more than national associations, are riding the member ROI wave of accelerated member recruitment. They are proving the real-dollar return on investment (ROI) of membership in order to influence industry members into joining. These associations have realized that the “join because you should” died a long time ago. Today, the “prove to me that membership is a smart decision” has taken hold across North America and is indicating there will be no letup of this paradigm any time soon.
Still Hooked on Days Gone Bye
Unfortunately, far too many associations are still hooked on the opiate of the more senior members belonging to, and attending meetings “because they should,” regardless of the quality of events or ROI of membership. They are not riding the member ROI wave. Wake up! These lovely folks, in huge numbers, are retiring and/or passing away. In their place, are appearing a different breed of industry participant and joining because one should is about as foreign to them as your Grandfather’s Oldsmobile.
There are those that cling to the fading idea that associations must be mission driven, without concern for delivering member value. Some say that associations that deliver real-dollar member value are nothing more than buying clubs. Perhaps today’s Mission-Driven philosophy might be nothing more than an excuse for non-performance while Member-ROI-Centric demands that association staff and volunteer leaders perform at the highest levels possible in order to member ROI wave.
Member ROI Centric
Associations that cling to obtuse missions as opposed to delivering high-level member value can imprudently spend the lion’s share of time and resources conducting activities—activities that serve the industry and all that are involved without holding membership. Where’s the value for those loyal members that annually render their dues payments? Many say that it is non-existent. It’s not always easy to be high-performing and deliver actual real-dollar value to members—value that the non-members do not receive. However, for staff and volunteer leaders that use “member ROI, member retention, and member recruitment” as one of their important considerations in decision making—across the organizational silos—these organizations are learning how to create and deliver member ROI. These organizations are enjoying consistent membership growth.
Today’s Forward-Thinking Associations
Progressive association staff and volunteer leaders of today are taking a different approach to member recruitment and retention—one that centers on member value and ROI. They are riding member ROI wave by focusing on how every decision affects member ROI. They are:
· Seeing their organization through the eyes of the non-member to better understand why the non-members have not accepted the invitation of membership.
· Promoting the benefits of membership features. They have learned how to explain the “what’s in it for me” to prospective members. They no longer rely on just a list of membership features and erroneously calling them benefits, they are riding the member ROI wave. Additionally, they have learned to differentiate between the features only accessible to an individual or company through membership and the activities they do that delivers benefit to all in the industry. They are learning how to sell through the window of member-only benefit and relying less on things their organization does that delivers benefit to all.
· Proving beyond the shadow of doubt that membership in their organization is a good business, career, and financial decision by conducting qualitative research sessions to determine what their members believe is the actual, annual real-dollar ROI of each member-only, feature of membership is worth.
· Discovering, identifying, and engaging their organization’s Member Recruitment Evangelists—the members that have been around for a while, are influential, and understand how a larger and stronger organization can deliver more value to members and their industry alike. And…arming these Member Recruitment Evangelists with an effective tool for influencing non-members into becoming paid members.
The Member ROI Wave Evangelists’ Tool
The trend is moving away from the traditional three-pound prospective member packages. Those packages of yesterday were really an effort to baffle with bulk rather than to dazzle with brilliance. Today, nobody will read a box or folder full of information—it was something like an association member recruitment data dump. Member Recruitment Evangelists and prospective members alike want something (hard-copy and electronic) compact, tightly written, and clearly explaining the “what’s in it for me” in real dollar members. They want to get an idea as the member ROI wave they can expect. The days of saying, “Membership is Priceless” are gone.
This trend of producing a compact tri-fold member recruitment brochure for the organization’s Member Recruitment Evangelists, and everyone else, has been embraced more by state associations than has national associations.
Some of the state and local associations that have produced the Member Recruitment Evangelists’ tool include:
· Mechanical Contractors Association of South Carolina
· Southern Illinois Builders Association
· Associated Builders and Contractors Minnesota/North Dakota Chapter
· American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado
· American Council of Engineering Companies of Virginia
· National Association of the Remodeling Industry Central Ohio Chapter
This tool succinctly communicates the “member-only” features of membership and how the membership-at-large values each feature in annual real-dollar numbers. The brochure also communicates the “what’s in it” for the individual, their company, and their industry. Not every prospect will care about all the features of membership that is offered to them. As such, Member Recruitment Evangelists have the ability to discover which features of membership matter to the prospect and then can help them to understand the ROI they can expect from using just those features. For a free template to help you produce your own “dazzle them with brilliance” member recruitment brochure, email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Member ROI Wave Buying Motives
Selling guilt is like having only one tool in one’s toolbox. The days of people joining because they should, have vanished. With that said, selling guilt along with several important reasons to buy can still be effective, in some situations, for getting CEOs to sign up large numbers of their employees. This is something that some Member Recruitment Evangelists and others are discovering. The something else is buying motives.
The organizations that are riding the member ROI wave, are doing so by helping their members to couple the evangelists’ tool with the knowledge of buying motives is proving very effective. Association staff and volunteer leaders are starting to understand the difference between a feature of membership and how each of the various features make their members lives better—the benefit of the feature. They are moving toward great benefit copy writing for both electronic and print publishing to help current members and prospective members alike to better understanding of the “what’s in it for me” that the association offers.
Each feature of membership relates to one or more buying motives within the framework of non-member decisions to buy (join). The six basic member ROI wave buying motives are:
· Fear of Loss
· Avoidance of Pain
As association staff members learn how to write benefit statements for each feature of (member-only) membership and do so through the window of one or more buying motives held within the minds of prospects—the power of the written word exponentially accelerates. How well an organization’s website communicates member value and ROI has an enormous effect on the organization’s member recruitment results.
Chief Staff Executives Getting Onboard
For years, many chief staff executives (CSE) truly believed that member recruitment was solely the responsibility of the membership department, and focused elsewhere. Today, many CSEs are riding the member ROI wave and realizing the critical nature of everyone in the organization being on-board for the organization’s quest for member recruitment. CSEs are working hard to breakdown the silo mentality of the boards of directors and the staff members—becoming member-ROI-centric and charging everyone with the simple question, “How will this action affect member retention, recruitment, and total delivered member ROI?” After all, Membership is Everybody’s Business. They are effectively riding the member ROI wave.
“Compelling conversations is the single best way of creating concrete conversions… CONSISTENTLY!” –Ed Rigsbee
https://rigsbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/rigsbee_research_logo-300x112.jpg00Edrigsbeehttps://rigsbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/rigsbee_research_logo-300x112.jpgEdrigsbee2016-09-16 01:03:262023-02-01 16:52:53Riding the Member ROI Wave—Proving Real Dollar Member ROI for Consistent Growth (1292 words)
If your membership organization wants to grow, your member ROI quotient is important (return on investment). Engage industry stakeholders through delivering honest and usable value. The universal thought that is whirling around in everyone’s mind is, “What’s in it for me?” Perception is reality; and today’s associations and societies must get real about the ROI. While most really do not know how much ROI they deliver, just delivering ROI is no longer good enough; today you have to prove high-level ROI to keep members and recruit new ones.
ROI delivery and increasing your member ROI quotient is both an art and a science. The science is adding up the numbers and disseminating the information. The art is in managing the member perception of value. You must prove to your industry that membership in your organization is a good business decision. To do this, you must manage your resources in a new way.
Stop Giving It Away to Grow Your Member ROI Quotient
This is huge, please take notice! There is an omnipresent erroneous belief among association professionals and volunteer leaders that, “If we give it away to non-members they will see the value and join.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. This idea is killing your member ROI quotient. When you give away, for example, your legislative updates, newsletters, and magazines, all you are really doing is reducing the value your members receive for their membership dollars and minimizing the motivation of non-members to join. Why should the non-member join? Look at all the value you are giving them for a zero investment. The cold hard truth is that if they haven’t joined by now, they’re not going to join.
Put a Price on It to Grow Your Member ROI Quotient
This will dramatically increase your member ROI. Anything that you make available to members should exhibit an honest “retail” price; everything from electronic newsletters to member lists to legislative updates—everything. To legitimize the price, offer those products, services, and access to non-members at the stated retail price. Don’t think outsiders will pay? Think again, and, regardless of if non-members purchase these items or not, you are stating the value (ROI) your members receive. Do not make the mistake of letting members just think it’s free.
Do your members call the headquarter office for advise when they get into a jam? Send them an invoice, zeroed out with an equal discount, just like any other professional service provider would do. This goes for other services the association provides “free of charge” for its members. Every single day of the week you have to remind your members of the real-dollar value they receive because of their membership in your organization. Keep the value fresh in their heads and they will remember when it is time to renew.
Grow Your Member ROI Quotient; What Else Do You Have to Sell?
There’s gold hidden in your organization’s dusty shelves and computer files. Look around your organization for items, services, and various methods of access that might be perceived by non-members highly valuable. Put a retail price on those items and services, and make them available to non-members at the retail price and to members at no charge or a greatly discounted price. The differential will add to your members’ perception of their yearly membership ROI.
The rub here might be that some of your board members still hold on to their antiquated belief that all of the above is sacred and proprietary information and thereby not to be disseminated. Come on, it’s the twenty-first century, let’s move on and provide as much ROI for your members as possible.
You ask your members to send you a check each year. And, each year when they write out that check they have to make a new decision to buy. Make it easy for your members to see that it is a good business decision to hold membership in your organization. Do this through higher ROI delivery and perception and guess what? They will become membership evangelists for your organization and convince their colleagues, many that you might never reach, to also join and partake of the plentiful ROI.
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Deliver High-Level Member Value-All They Hear is, “What’s in it for me?”
In member recruitment, member value is the primary driver that you must completely understand is “member-only” value. Trying to convince a person to pay money to join your organization to get what they are already getting is just nonsense.
Not to Get Lost in the Weeds
For over a decade, I have been talking to association executives about the idea of Member Value through the window of “member-only” value and I must say that it frequently seems like I’m talking to a brick wall. Here is the rub…most associations and societies are pretty darn good at their advocacy work. These organizations work hard to affect legislation in a way that delivers a positive result to their members. And, that positive result is also enjoyed by non-members operating in the industry as well. Unfortunately, most current membership surveys reveal that at most, 20% join for advocacy and legislative influence reasons. What about the other 80%?
Is this advocacy work important? You bet it is. Does it deliver perceived value to members? It sure does. The problem is that everyone, regardless of membership receives the benefits. Since everyone in the industry receives the benefits; is this advocacy result a “member-only” benefit? Absolutely not, and that’s the challenge facing today’s associations and societies.
Every activity your membership organization does that delivers value to all the stakeholders in your industry is simply put—industry value. This might include advocacy, Web Site content access, Social Media Group access, and weekly/monthly publications…just to name a few. Generally these value propositions are not sell-able; meaning that these value items will be a no-go in convincing non-members to join your organization. They are already enjoying these value benefits without holding membership in your organization. The tired and ineffective “support your industry” argument will most likely not work with these groups or individuals.
Member value just for the members and not the industry. The products, services, benefits, and discounts that your members receive by virtue of paying for their membership are the true “member-only” benefits that your organization delivers. These “member-only” benefits are going to be your organization’s unique selling proposition tools. While non-members do enjoy the industry value that your organization delivers, it is the “member-only” benefit package that will potentially motivate the non-member in your industry to cut a check to your organization. Sell the “member-only” benefits.
What Member Value Story Does Your Website Tell?
In developing your Website strategy, you must determine if your “member benefits” page is positioned primarily for member retention or for member recruitment. If it is primarily for member retention, then simply listing the features of membership and leading with your advocacy work…might be enough. However, if you want your “member benefits” page to help you in selling membership you must list the “industry benefit” last and lead with the “member-only” benefits your organization offers. To make your page more dynamic, learn the difference between features and benefits. Features are built into a product or service and the benefit is how a feature makes a person’s life better.
Promote the Member-Only Benefits
In order to help your members and staff to do a better job of member recruitment, help them to understand the differentiation of the above elements. Their efforts will be far more successful if they focus on what is available only through membership and de-emphasize the industry value. If you really want the see their efforts successful, also give them the most powerful tool of all—knowing what the member-only, member-determined, yearly-sustainable, real-dollar return on investment (ROI) number is. That magic number will be their number one member recruitment tool.
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