It’s easy to rationalize that members leave due to economic or other factors outside of an association’s control. But, member retention is really about stimulating “connectedness” based upon a differentiating and compelling experience that meets member’s specific needs. With many options available, people feel more “connected” to those solution sources who value their ideas and knowledge contributions.
Our Strategic Member Engagement Survey found that three of the top reasons members leave are:
• Insufficient perceived value (ROI)
• Joined for a one-time purchase discount (e.g. meeting registration)
• Insufficient connection to their business/professional objectives
At the core of an association’s value premise is collectively creating new solutions to influence the future destiny of members in ways they could not achieve on their own. Yet most associations focus on pushing out offerings (“outputs”) and hoping someone cares. Likely, your members aren’t aware of all your offerings. Their focus is on “outcomes” that address their business/ professional challenges and opportunities. Everything else is just noise. So the answer is not selling “louder” with a new marketing campaign. It’s about changing the dialogue from “here’s what you get for your money” to “here’s the power of engaging with others in your industry/profession to create new, innovative solutions.”
Strategic member engagement is: “Creating unparalleled and sustainable value by bringing people together in ways that they find meaningful and practical, because they perceive an ability to impact something they desire, individually and collectively.” Focus on member contribution behaviors, not just output transactions. When knowledge contribution is reinforced, it leads to peer collaboration, which in turn stimulates connectedness. And, this drives retention and your business model.
When members feel connected, they stop viewing the organization as an output vendor; a meeting to attend or journal to read. They become the association’s evangelists and virally spread the word. They pay dues on time and enlist others to join. They contribute to research funds, join advocacy efforts and bring colleagues to meetings. They become speakers at your events and writers in your publications. Leading associations are figuring out how to capture the insights of many members and provide the tools that enable members to tap into the collective knowledge for strategic and tactical insights upon demand. Together, these provide a basis for measuring Return on Member Engagement (R.O.M.E.).
Lane is president of Vertical Leap Consulting. This free research report was conducted in collaboration with Potomac Core Consulting and icimo LLC, The e-book Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement© will be released later this month.