I can remember the 2009 economic crash like it was yesterday. Almost every industry
experienced economic fallout from the financial crash, which resulted in many associations being devastated. It was a very challenging time. So, many buzz phrases surfaced, and were designed to sell a "new normal" within the association realm. Here's some of what you might have heard:
The membership model is broken
Associations aren't relevant anymore
Virtual meetings will replace face-to-face meetings
Young people aren't "joiners"
The "new normal" never appeared because all of the above was a myth. Why?
The economic fallout put a lot of people and companies in financial stress, and association memberships experienced a fallout in funding...not relevance. People didn't join, renew, or attend live meetings because of a lack of relevance, but rather...they HAD NO MONEY.
How do we know that? Once the economy returned, membership growth flourished. Young people began to join associations, and the meetings industry grew to record numbers. Hear me out on this: Just because someone doesn't have the money to all the sudden pay your dues during an economic downturn, doesn't mean your value isn't high and you aren't relevant. It simply means that they can't afford your dues in the current moment.
Now, do some associations need to innovate? No question...that answer is a resounding "yes". However, when financial fallout happens for any reason, it is not time to change your value, it is time to DO YOUR VALUE. It's why you exist for your members.
Fast forward to today. We are hearing all the buzz phrases coming out during the COVID-19
crisis, just like in 2009:
We are in unprecedented times
We have to pivot to stay relevant
We are living in a new normal
Let me ask you something...have you every lost your largest member? Have you ever had legislation approved that had a hugely negative impact on your membership? Have you ever experienced an event that had a major impact on your association? The answer is YES for many associations, and what did you do/how did you respond? With the right innovation and value.
Is this moment we are in crazy? YES! Does it seem like it will never end? YES! Does the intensity of the moment seem more than any other crisis? YES! Do we respond differently to this moment than we would any other crisis? NO...and here's why:
In any crisis, whether big or small, it is important that you have a set of core principles and systems in place to help you weather the storm, innovate, and lead your members through the crisis to prosperity. Do not be intimidated by what is right in front of you. Many are because of the uncertainty of it all. It is critical you be the calm in the storm...the light at the end of the tunnel.
A KEY PHRASE TO REMEMBER: Quit planning for a future you can not predict and CREATE the FUTURE YOU WANT.
Maximizing your value proposition and member engagement leads to higher retention in any economy. When members NEED what you provide (VALUE), they stay. When they are connected to your value touch points (ENGAGEMENT), they stay. Member engagement solves EVERYTHING.
Over the last 10-years, our association has averaged 83% of our members being engaged in one or more of our key engagement points, and a 97% retention rate. This has led to over 2,600% growth in our net reserves, providing us excess funding to take bigger risks in innovation, and to weather the current COVID-19 crisis. This engagement and growth come from one simple acronym called A.L.I.V.E. It is as follows:
ASK your members what they need now and want in the future.
LISTEN for their highest pain points. That is where the high value programs are.
INNOVATE new or current programs to solve highest pain points.
VALUE creation on pain points.
ENGAGE members in the program through an effective communication strategy.
Having an effective high value proposition and engagement strategy is driven by making it clear, concise, and measurable.
On July 14th at 2 pm EST, I will be co-hosting a LIVE webcast with Dave Will, Co-Founder and CEO of PropFuel on Making Your Engagement Come A.L.I.V.E. On this LIVE webcast, you will learn:
- Why member engagement SOLVES everything is an association.
- Keys to using the A.L.I.V.E strategy to maximize your value proposition and engagement.
- The three types of engaged members.
- How to measure member engagement to drive messaging and retention.
- The ONE phrase that drives member engagement.
- Strategies you should be using to ASK and LISTEN to your members needs.
Don't miss this engaging LIVE webcast where you won't be looking at boring slides. You will engage with two seasoned leaders who have lived membership engagement their entire career with passion, purpose, and results.