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  • Writer's pictureSarah Gazi, CAE

Finding the Value of Membership

It’s easy to say that your association provides value to members, but are you saying it correctly and accurately? Does your association have a clear value proposition? If you can’t clearly state the value of membership, chances are that your members don’t know either. And I think this goes without saying . . . but that would be bad.

Oftentimes associations show a laundry list of membership benefits when talking about the value of membership. Benefits of membership are not the same as the value of membership. Let’s break this down.

Let’s say that one of your benefits of membership is some sort of discount on something. Great. That’s a wonderful benefit. But so what? I’m not trying to be rude. That is literally what you need to ask yourself for each benefit to find the actual value and work toward developing a value proposition. You need to constantly put yourself in the shoes of your members and prospective members and find the “what’s in it for me?”.

Consider the example of a discount you offer your membership. When you ask yourself “so what?” the answer might be that the member saves money. Then ask yourself “so what?” again. The answer might be that the member improves their bottom line. If your association is made up of business owners, I guarantee that telling them that your association can improve their bottom line is going to be more personal and drive a more emotional response than just listing a bunch of membership benefits. You must connect the dots for them.

Let’s look at another common benefit of membership: networking. What does networking actually do for a member? It varies by association, but it could be things like building a sense of community, growing business leads and connections, or developing relationships that foster opportunities for career growth. Again, find what is in it for them. What does the benefit lead to?

Now let’s look at the important benefit of education. Most associations provide some type of educational component. Again, so what? What does this education bring? Knowledge. Ok, then ask “what does improved knowledge do?” Again, it varies by association, but it could be things like improved patient care or business growth and profitability.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t list your benefits. You should! The benefits of membership are important, and they all lead to some type of value. Benefits are tangible, and your value is typically a bigger picture outcome as a result of them.

Your value proposition is going to show members and prospective members what you can actually do for them and answer the big and always important “what’s in it for me?” question. Your value proposition should be your biggest selling point, the focus of your marketing, and a solution to your members’ biggest pain points. Your value proposition focuses on the outcome. The International Franchise Association has a compelling value statement: “Gain visibility and build your business with an IFA membership. Together we will improve your profits and professional future by empowering you with access to practical resources and a strong community of professional peers.” If you can drive home that your association solves their biggest pain point(s), then membership becomes a necessity. And if membership is a necessity, then membership growth and retention will be in your future.

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