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I can remember it like it was yesterday...I was standing in the back of an ASAE Great Ideas

conference, in a session where moderators were collecting issues from the audience, that everyone would have an open discussion on for the next 75 minutes.

As ideas were flowing, one person got the mic and stated, "How do we continue to sell PERCEIVED VALUE to our members?"

I couldn't help myself...that was such a crazy question to discuss. I asked for the mic and begin to lean into the audience and share, "If you are only selling perceived value and not ACTUAL VALUE, you might as well leave the room and hang it up. If you are selling perceived value, you are selling "smoke and mirrors. We need to be talking about what we can really do for our members they can't do for themselves effectively."

When I gave the mic back, someone in the audience yelled, that is all we should talk about in the session because if we don't figure that out, none of the other topics matter. Hence, the group had an amazing discussion on how to create ACTUAL VALUE.

It is critical, in today's fast changing business climate where "Uberization" is everywhere, that associations dig deep to find the FRICTION, ANXIETY, and STRESS that exits in their member's business model, and offer up viable solutions to remove all three.

In any association and business model, there is always some level of friction, anxiety, and stress with the member/customer, whether it's an individual or company. The question is, "Are you, as the association/organization, bringing viable solutions to remove the FRICTION, ANXIETY, AND STRESS, thus making them more successful and profitable?"

If you are not, then you are leaving the highest level of ACTUAL VALUE on the table.

As you develop your ACTUAL VALUE, it is important that you develop a visual graphic that shares those values in a concise manner, that can be placed on business cards, booth displays, brochures, or documents that any staff, volunteer, or member is able to share the value.

This year, our association developed our graphic that hits on the top key areas that drive our member's business model. It looks like this:

The top statement signifies STRENGTH. The statement in the middle hits at the core of how we IMPACT their company. The 6-elements around the core statement are HOW we impact their company.

When you are looking at what goes in this "value graphic," it is important that you understand the 3-types of association benefits through your member's eyes:

  • #1: Benefits your members can get for free without you (usually information related).

  • #2: Benefits you are going to provide whether they are a member or not (this is typically government advocacy and meetings).

  • #3: Doing things for your members that they can't do themselves effectively

#3 of "Doing things for your members that they can't do themselves effectively" is where the MAXIMUM and ACTUAL VALUE exists for any association/organization. In 2015 I designed a visual to show the keys to finding and your maximizing value. It is as follows:

In designing your association member value proposition, it is important that it has four key elements:

  1. It has to be MEMBER FOCUSED

  2. It MAXIMIZES THE VALUE of the association

  3. It ENGAGES members to participate at some level

  4. Do you do it with WOW Factor?

So I ask you: Does your association have PERCEIVED value, or ACTUAL value? Is that value on a visual that is specific and clear? If your association did not exist, would your members miss the value that you bring to the game? These are key questions your association leadership and staff should be focused on.

If your have maximum value, it is easier to recruit new members, members engage and retention is not an issue.

Between now and 2020, we will see more change in business models and value than we have in the previous decade. Is your association prepared for that race?

If your association leadership would like to engage in my "Association Strong Strategy Session" to build their value proposition using the visual graphic, email me at

I have performed my half day session with many state and national associations across the U.S., and they always share that it is the most engaging and interactive strategy session that they have ever been through...that extracts what the REAL VALUE of their association is.

If not me, pick somebody. This is the process that will be the key to your success between now and 2020.

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