Monday, May 14, 2018

Adopting the Point of View of Your Members

Kudos to Amanda Kaiser and her Smooth the Path blog for her post, "Our Point of View is Not Our Members’ Point of View." In it, she reminds all of us association staff that what we think about the value of our membership benefits is often not what our members think of it. And maybe it was the coincidence that my association's last Annual Conference was in Orlando that made the following passage from her post really jump out at me:

Everyone will want to come to Orlando to see our great speakers and enjoy the new reception, we think. Members see three precious days out of the office, away from their families.

Ouch. That one hits a little too close to home. Take a look at all the marketing copy from our last conference and you will find a lot of words about speakers and receptions and very few words about the problems that our members may be looking to solve by attending the conference.

And, as I'm sure Kaiser would agree, at the end of the day it needs to be about the association solving the member's problem, or at least providing the venue in which the problem can be solved.

To help us better adopt the point of view of our members we recently tried to recast the way we talk about our association and what it offers so that it better connects with what we have come to call our members' "pain points" -- the problems they are trying to solve. After a fair amount of brainstorming and then sorting, we boiled things down to the following six primary pain points:

  • Enhance my brand
  • Understand the market
  • Increase my sales
  • Reduce my costs
  • Find technical or engineering staff
  • Educate me and my team

We're a trade association, remember, and our members are companies generally looking to grow and expand. Undoubtedly, they have other problems that they are trying to solve (i.e., other pain points), but what's special about this list is that these are all problems that our programs can provide solutions to. Our association, you could say, is therefore biased towards these six problems.

But, we realized, we almost never talk about them with our members. We always, always talk about our programs and their features (the speakers and the receptions) but never, never (it seems) about the problems that those programs could solve.

And we need to. If we're going to connect with our members in a way that is meaningful we need to adopt their point of view and speak their language. Don't come to our conference to hear our speakers. Come to our conference better understand the market, or to educate you and your leadership team, or to enhance your brand (we have sponsorship packages for that last one).

The marketing copy is already more compelling.

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This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog, an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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