Association Member Engagement Mountain
For Associations, one of the most important and critical challenges facing them is Member Engagement. CEO’s and Senior Managers agree, the more the company is engaged the better the chance of member renewal. However, weak member participation, sinking retention, falling conference attendance and sponsor revenues are symptoms of a bigger and potentially dangerous challenge. The Association’s Member Engagement Strategy may require a deep dive by CEOs and the Management team.
It’s important that in this day and age that Associations not “leave well enough alone.” The Stay or Go Imperative could impact an Association’s financial health and well being. If membership is a distraction instead of ROI, Corporations vote with their feet and instead invest in a different solution.
Yes, Corporations have smaller corporate staff, in some instances one executive may wear multiple hats. However, if this executive makes the dues decision, then a strategy or a change is necessary.
Read the Tea Leaves
Companies look for the connection to business objectives as part of their membership evaluation process. If these connections don’t exist, it’s difficult for any Association to execute an effective strategy to engage members. Metrics are like tea leaves they both paint a picture and they tell a story.
If Associations observe that conference attendance is equal or less to prior years, educational meetings and fly-in attendance is significantly lower, and member retention is down for three consecutive years, it is time for an intervention. The marketplace could also signal one or more of the following:
- Negative view of the culture and overall effectiveness of an Association.
- The Association is perceived as not being as impactful in educational, policy or advocacy programs.
- Other solutions including coalitions, conference providers or other Association programs deliver greater value.
Never Hit The Panic Button
Associations should embrace the challenge and convert the situation into a strategic opportunity. When diagnosing, member participation and revenue fall-off rebuild the path to engagement: one company at a time, obtain clarity on business and policy objectives, and understand what members really must achieve from participation achieve.
CEO’s can keep in mind that success and failure are never final, the road forward offers hope, and a more definitive path to member engagement.
Develop Data Driven Strategies
Associations need to build a data set to help them understand why participation and revenues have fallen. However, it’s key to put heavier weight on relationships; in a complex world the human connection matters. One member at a time, collect the following information:
- Is the Association perceived as staff or member driven?
- Does participation help executives achieve company business objectives?
- Why do executives participate in other Associations or Coalitions?
- How important is networking?
- Would Social Media engagement on platforms such as LinkedIn reflect an attractive alternative?
- Are educational and or certification programs relevant to career advancement?
While Associations may develop additional or different questions, these open the door to constructive dialogue with disengaged members. Tally the responses, create internal task forces of senior managers and key staff, develop solutions and new strategies, assign performance metrics and then execute.
Association Member Engagement Mountain
For Association CEO’s who have or who are looking into the abyss, there is light at the end of the tunnel. An Association Executive confronting the worst dues loss in decades once reported record gains in member participation, advocacy effectiveness and revenue growth. Stepping back, building an Association wide member focus with data driven strategies proved to be a year long process worthy of the effort. Yes, the participation, retention and growth outcomes were record highs but the data really reflected stronger member connectivity.
Climbing the Member Engagement Mountain is vital and necessary for every Association. It can also be the determining strategy helping Associations achieve revenue growth.