What struck me were the wonderful questions that Tom posed for associations.
- Organize themselves
- Coordinate their efforts (cause)
- Leverage the costs over many people
- Build trust for partnerships/business opportunities
- Do things for themselves they could not do individually more effectively
The 5th bullet is the lynch-pin. As a member I’m looking for the association to help me do things that I want to do that I can’t do for myself.
Tom also pointed to the emotional pull of associations:
- People WANT to be a part of something BIGGER than themselves
- People WANT to be a part of something EXCITING
- People WANT to believe in an organization that can EMPOWER them to make it happen
Key to providing value to members:
Identifying things you can for your members they cannot do themselves effectively in time, effort or financial resources.
Again, that’s gold.
I will say that I struggle a bit with the bottom-up vs. top-down message from Tom. Particularly if you look at making sure your association is doing things that are differentiate itself. Tom suggests you need to ask:
- What can an association provide that the members can’t get anywhere else.
- Focus on the top 5
That conflicts a bit with Tom suggesting that members want to be part of and create the cause. Many organizations put impediments to members taking up a cause. And if the organization is focusing on its top 5 differentiators, it likely will create barriers to member imitated innovation.
I am also struggling with the challenge of dealing with innovation and change in most associations.
Questions from the audience:
- What to do about a CEO operating with a Manager’s mentality?
- Member value is different depending on the generation asking. How do you address the differing needs?
- Do you think that "chapters" help build the association with more direct local one on one contact with members?
- How do you deliver 350 online classes with a staff of 3 people?
- Any other advice for those who do not have chapters?
- Can you talk a little more about how you engaged your current membership?
- What are your recommendations for how to increase revenue from existing members without them feeling "nickeled and dimed" after they’ve already paid a membership dues?
- How do you build that trust and/or develop caring? As a precursor to membership.
A great resource from Tom: 5-Stages to Building Believers in Your Association