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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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Phase 2: Prioritizing Members Needs to Identify Successful Membership Categories

In Phase 1: Investigating Member Needs, the association implemented a robust qualitative investigation of the environment surrounding members, reviewed competing and alternative sources addressing member challenges, and identified the personal and organizational goals important to the member and how all of these factors are similar or different across audiences.

The result of this step is a list of environmental factors, competitors, goals and, most importantly, potential solutions to address member challenges.

The next step is to validate and prioritize the challenges and goals that take precedence, to identify the principal competitors to determine eventual positioning strategy, and to select, from the long list of potential member benefits, which ones are essential to the membership decision.

Prioritizing the benefits helps your association focus resources on the benefits essential to membership. Consider the following:

  • The Society of Manufacturing Engineers discovered that out of 24 potential member benefits, nine distinct benefits attracted 70% of their market. The rest of their offering provided only limited additional market penetration.
  • The Massachusetts Medical Society discovered that 4 benefits out of 15 attracted 85% of their membership.
  • The National Ground Water Association discovered that of 28 tested benefits, only 2 were essential to the membership decision!

Association Laboratory's research consistently shows that strategic prioritization is essential to successfully position the association relative to its competitors and allows for a focused concentration of staff and financial resources allowing the association to do 5 great things instead of 10 average things.

There are two advanced research techniques that help associations identify and understand the critical needs of members or other stakeholder groups: total unduplicated research and frequency (TURF) analysis and Q-Sort.

TURF Analysis - identifies the extent to which adding an additional member program, service, or initiative increases the association's market penetration. If adding a program doesn't increase penetration, why include it in your membership package?

Q-Sort - Q-sort identifies the member benefits considered essential to the membership decision vs. those that are considered less important. It helps associations separate the programs that clearly contribute to the member value proposition from those that do not contribute as strongly.

The outcome from this step is a clear understanding of how the programs, services, and initiatives of the association contribute to the membership decision so that staff and financial resources can be more effectively allocated, and marketing activities can focus on communicating the benefits of essential activities.

The final phase is to identify how to configure the priority programs and develop pricing strategy to ensure their success in the marketplace.

We'll discuss this step in our next blog titled Phase 3: Configuring and Pricing Membership Categories for Marketplace Success.

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