How to Create a Positive Survey Experience

How to Create a Positive Survey Experience

The response rate for web surveys is 8 to 12%. Why so low? One of the biggest reasons is poor design and execution.

So how do you increase participation?

  1. Pre-notify your members. Get in touch with them in advance to tell them why you’re conducting the research, and how you’re going to use it – whether it’s part of a strategic planning exercise, or you’re trying to improve the value you give them. Tell them who it’s going to be coming from, when it will launch, and how long they will have to complete it.
  1. Be honest about the survey length. Don’t say it’s going to be brief if it’s actually going to take 20-30 minutes to complete. Give them the ability to save and continue at a later date. It will help your participation rate in the long run.
  2. Be disciplined about the number of surveys you send out. It’s too easy to send surveys out on a whim. Think about who you’re sending to, and set up a limit on how many surveys your members receive on an annual or quarterly basis. Make your surveys targeted. If you’re interested in surveying millennials, don’t send it to your older members. Being more diligent about your prep will reduce the chances of your members experiencing survey fatigue.


Who’s Responsible for Strategy Development?

Who’s Responsible for Strategy Development?
Who’s responsible for strategy development? Is it the Board, the CEO, or the Receptionist?

The best strategy in the world isn’t a good strategy unless it can be communicated and executed. Although the CEO is responsible for leading the strategy development process, and the Board has ultimate fiduciary responsibility for determining strategic direction, an organization is missing an opportunity if it doesn’t engage the entire staff in the development of strategy.

Engaging the receptionist in the process is laying the seeds for strategic communication and strategy execution. But, this involvement does so much more by:

The bigger takeaway here is that when developing strategies, whether they are organizational strategies, issues management strategies or problem-solving strategies, significant strategic thought must be given to who we should have “on the bus” and at what stop they board.

Who do you engage in strategy development and what criteria do you use for selecting the strategy development team?

About the Author

Robert Nelson, a Certified Association Executive (CAE), brings over a quarter-century of successful executive leadership experience, working with Boards and high-powered CEOs in a not-for-profit setting. He is the founder of Nelson Strategic Consulting and brings hands-on experience guiding and facilitating the design of strategy development processes and think tanks. His focus on organizational strategies and strategic solutions to complex organizational and global grand challenges for national as well as international organizations.

Contact Robert through his website, or learn more about Nelson Strategic Consulting at


Speaker Coaching: The Key to Unlocking Top-Rated Conference Sessions

Speaker Coaching: The Key to Unlocking Top-Rated Conference Sessions

This week’s blog post on speaker coaching is re-posted with permission from Aaron D. Wolowiec,  founder and president of Event Garde, a professional development consulting firm based in Grand Rapids, Mich. Website:

When’s the last time your organization’s education committee was asked to identify the three to five greatest challenges currently inhibiting its industry speakers from reaching their fullest potential during the annual conference? I recently did this for a client and following were the responses that bubbled to the surface:

Do these sound familiar? What would comprise your organization’s “watch list”? Based upon these areas of focus, we then developed a one-page resource and shared it with all selected speakers, requesting they use this document in designing their conference presentation experiences. Specifically, we:

But this is just the first step.

Next year we intend to offer a training webinar (or a series of shorter training webinars) that helps illuminate these and other strategies and provide individualized coaching that allows for more robust reflection, planning, practice, and feedback.

Additional ideas for investing in conference speakers might include one or more of the following:

Growth in the delivery of conference presentations is an iterative process. Mastery does not occur overnight. Rather, repeat industry speakers should be provided ongoing learning guidance, opportunities to practice new knowledge and skills, meaningful feedback from seasoned colleagues and staff and job aids that enhance retention and transfer.

What strategies have you found most successful in mentoring your industry speakers in the design and delivery of top-rated conference sessions?


Assessing a Governance System

Assessing a Governance System
Before you begin to redesign your governance system, invest adequate time in analyzing your current system. After all, this is what Einstein would do!

Einstein has been quoted as having said “if I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes. In other words, he would spend significant time figuring out what the problem is.

If your current governance system isn’t performing up to par, it’s important to understand why not. Depending on what the “real” problems are, the solutions may lie in making actual structural changes (reformulating the committee structure or size of board, for example) or they may lie in changing the practices the board engages in (agenda design or meeting design, for example). Investing the time to adequately define and redefine the problem will:

Although a problem might be complex, the processes used to solve a problem are not complex. The first step is properly defining the problem and this begins with challenging assumptions and breaking the problem down to ensure you are focused on the root problem.


Determining the root cause(s) of an underperforming or ill performing governance system is one of the first steps in governance system redesign. Often what is first identified is a symptom of the problem, not the root cause. As such, it is important to challenge one’s assumptions and not get “locked” into the first “problem” that is identified.

When analyzing a governance system, two methodologies are useful: Ishikawa Diagram and Toyoda’s 5 Whys.

Ishikawa Diagram

An Ishikawa Diagram takes a systems approach to problem identification. The diagram is used to identify all possible root cause categories, under which actual root causes are listed. This approach forces one to consider all of the different parts of the governance system as one analyzes the problem.

An Ishikawa Diagram looks like a fish skeleton, with the initial problem being the head and possible root cause categories represented by the rib bones, under which root causes are listed. The illustration below uses lack an underperforming board as the initial problem, and then identifies six possible root cause categories, which become the rib bones of the diagram. Actual potential root causes are then listed along each rib bone. A more comprehensive list of root categories for governance system analysis is provided further below.

Five Step Process

Governance Ishidawa Diagram


As mentioned above, the Ishikawa process starts with brainstorming all of the potential root cause categories. These are comprised of all of the parts of the “system.” Following is a list of root cause categories for governance issues. All or some of these may apply to your organization. You can use this list as a starting place to identify additional root cause categories that are applicable in your situation as you build out your Ishikawa Diagram.

Toyoda’s 5 Whys

Toyoda’s 5 Whys is a very simple method to identify root causes. It can be used alone or in conjunction with the fishbone technique illustrated above. When a problem arises, ask why and for each response to the question ask why again until the why question has been asked at least five times.

Applying the 5 whys methodology to our problem of having a board that is a non-strategic thinking entity, the questions might look like this:

Q: Why doesn’t the Board think Strategically?

A: Because the are always digging into short-term tactics

Q: Why are they always discussing short-term tactics?

A: Because these issues are perceived to be important by the Board

Q: Why are these issues important to the Board?

A: Because they believe it is the role and responsibility of the Board to discuss and act on these issues

Q: Why does the Board believe this is their role and responsibility?

A: Because they don’t know another way

Q: Why doesn’t the Board know another way?

A: Because we don’t have a governance / Board development program

Using this example, we see the real problem is not that the Board isn’t thinking strategically, it is that we don’t have a formalized training / development program for our Board members. Of course, each group (or reader) will answer these questions differently; the point is to engage in the process to dig deeper into the actual root problem.


Spending time to make sure that you have defined the problem(s) correctly is imperative to governance system redesign. On a very basic level, it ensures that you are focusing on the right problem and creates a high level of probability that the right solution(s) will be developed. Further, working on the problem identification process with a Governance Task Force builds consensus around the actual (root) problem(s). Finally, engaging in robust problem identification reveals information and knowledge that will inform the development of solutions and governance redesign.

Of course, it is also critical that you and your board have a thorough understanding of what good governance looks like as well as the appropriate roles and responsibilities of a high performing board. Likewise, it is helpful to create a vision of what a high performing board would look like for your organization so you can redesign toward that vision.

About the Author

Robert Nelson, a Certified Association Executive (CAE), brings over a quarter-century of successful executive leadership experience, working with Boards and high-powered CEOs in a not-for-profit setting. He is the founder of Nelson Strategic Consulting and brings hands-on experience guiding and facilitating the design of strategy development processes and think tanks. His focus on organizational strategies and strategic solutions to complex organizational and global grand challenges for national as well as international organizations.

Contact Robert through his website, or learn more about Nelson Strategic Consulting at


Keep The Spark Going! Using Auto Renewals to Enhance Member Retention

Keep The Spark Going! Using Auto Renewals to Enhance Member Retention
Contributed by Mary Byers, CAE

What do health clubs, iTunes, Dropbox, Xbox and Netflix have in common? All require members to participate in monthly billing or auto renewal programs. And all are benefiting as a result.

Author and association consultant Seth Kahan recently hosted a summit on “Private Sector Membership Models,” a growing trend in the corporate world. He notes that for-profit companies embrace the membership model for renewable relationships and income potential, also of interest to associations. Says Kahan, “It’s hard for me to imagine there would be any resistance to auto renewal because its sounds like it makes things easier for everybody.” Indeed it does.

Here’s why your association should offer auto renewals:

Member Convenience. Auto renewals allow members to enjoy uninterrupted service and avoid the hassle of manually cutting a check or entering credit card information online. Members receive a notice in advance of renewal so account information can be updated if necessary, and they can opt-out if they choose to not renew. Otherwise, no action is needed.

Automation. Think of the flurry of activity in the membership department around dues renewal time. Then think about how this same energy could be put to better use enhancing products, services and the overall member experience instead of processing renewals. Programmed renewals allow for automation of much (if not all) of the process.

Predictable Revenue Stream. Many associations enjoy an influx of dues around the beginning of the calendar year—only to be staring at nearly-empty coffers toward the end of it. Automatic billing for dues on the member join date, rather than on a calendar year, creates a smooth revenue stream throughout the year (and is a practice worth considering even if you don’t use automatic renewal). Or, consider monthly or quarterly billing to further even out revenue.

No Decision Points. Sending a dues statement once a year provides an annual decision point for members and invites scrutiny: “Did I get my money’s worth this year?” “What am I getting for my dues dollar?”

Robbie Baxter, author of the forthcoming book, The Membership Economy, notes, “Because payment and benefits are ongoing, there is no obvious moment when the member must re-evaluate options, and potentially choose to end the relationship.”

Companies such as health clubs, iTunes, Dropbox, Xbox and Netflix don’t provide annual decision points. You want to be a member? Provide your debit or credit card number and you’re a member until you cancel. It’s a simple concept that could result in higher retention rates and millions of dollars for your organization.

About Mary Byers

Author. Speaker. Facilitator. Consultant. Provocateur. All describe Mary Byers, CAE.

Through highly interactive programs, Mary uses compelling questions and thought-provoking techniques to encourage participation. Mary helps associations and other organizations remain competitive in an increasingly competitive environment. The author of Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations and Road to Relevance: 5 Strategies for Competitive Associations, she’s worked with a wide variety of associations (both individual membership and trade groups) and presents a compelling and insightful message designed to help volunteer leaders and staff alike create a viable and sustainable future. Visit to learn more.


How Well Are You Managing Your Online Community?

How Well Are You Managing Your Online Community?

There’s a difference between “setting up” and “building” an online community – and the latter requires much more time, ongoing effort, and resources.

Private online communities have grown in popularity in the association world, and they can be a great tool for building engagement and connecting members.  But many resource-constrained membership organizations set them up only to find that it’s a lot harder to manage a community than they thought it would be.

A thriving online community requires a lot of time and attention. So before you launch, be sure you have the ingredients you need to make it successful!

A Purpose

What do you want to achieve? Most communities focus on information sharing, connecting members, staying in touch with members, and giving members a place where they can get answers to questions. Online communities thrive on content, but before you can determine what kind of content you want to distribute, you need to have some specific goals in mind.

A Strategy

It takes time to build a thriving community, so you need to think long term, rather than posting content on an ad hoc basis. Your strategy follows your purpose. Based on your goals, get something down on paper that provides some detail on what kind of content you’ll post, how often, how you’ll manage your community, and who will be responsible for managing it.


With so much competition for your members’ attention on the web, you need to be sure you’re giving them relevant, timely information they can’t get anywhere else. Maybe it’s researching findings from studies you’ve conducted, quick tips from reputable experts within your organization, or videos that will teach your members something valuable.

Community Managers

Ideally, you’ll want to dedicate more than one person to creating and posting content, monitoring forums, and responding to questions. Choose people who know the industry really well, even if it means using a reliable volunteer. You want people who are up to speed on the latest industry trends so they can generate some discussion.


Think varied and personal. Your content should touch upon the issues and challenges your members to encounter on a day-to-day basis so that they are compelled to read it, watch it, or listen to it. Use a mix of mediums, including written content, videos, and photos to keep things interesting for your members.


Don’t do it alone. The most successful communities draw on the expertise of many contributors. This might mean including content from partner organizations, sponsors, board and staff members, and even enlisting some of your members to volunteer as contributors.


Your online community won’t grow overnight. Keep at it, monitor your progress, and re-assess your strategy from time to time. Be flexible – if something’s not working, acknowledge it and change your approach.

Put all these ingredients together, and over time your fledgling community will grow into a thriving, regularly visited hub for your members and prospective members.


5 Simple Tips for Attracting New Members

5 Simple Tips for Attracting New Members

Attracting new members is challenging in an increasingly competitive marketplace.  If marketing has been on the back burner for your organization until now, are a few simple things you can do to start stepping it up:


3 Attendance-Boosting Online Event Registration Tools

3 Attendance-Boosting Online Event Registration Tools

There are some powerful online event registration software products out there, packed with fancy features and tools that let you do far more than just accept registrations on the web.

Whether you realize it or not, it’s likely that your software can do more to help you increase your signups. So the question is: are you taking advantage of all the tools that are available to you?

Here are three things you should be doing with your event management system:

1) Tracking Abandoned Registrations

This is a big one because if you can track people who have started registering but haven’t finished, you have a great start to closing those extra registrations. People who take the time to click on the link and start the process have shown interest, so they’ll likely be your easiest targets.

Many systems will let you download a report that tells you who left your site without completing the process. Send those people a personal email reminding them that they haven’t yet completed their registration, and you’ll likely convert at least some of them to attendees.

2) Tracking Where Registrations Are Coming From

You likely promote your event through many different channels – partner websites, social media, and in advertisements. It’s important to understand where your registrants are hearing about your event so you can direct your marketing time and resources to the most productive channels.

How do you know where people are hearing about your event? A simple way is to “tag” your registration links. This simply means adding a unique label to the end of the link for each of your referring channels. It takes no time at all, and many online registration systems will allow you to download a report that shows you exactly where each registrant was referred from.

3) Using Promo Codes

The right promotion targeted to the right group of people can do amazing things for your registration numbers. The classic promotion for events is early bird registration, but there are so many other ways to discount tickets. You can set up promo codes to offer special rates to certain membership types, run a refer-a-friend promotion, or offer special pricing in advertisements.

If you aren’t already using discount promo codes, it can’t hurt to try them out. It’s easy to set them up if your system has the functionality in place, and the results might surprise you.


What Are Member Personas? And Why Do You Need Them?

What Are Member Personas? And Why Do You Need Them?

Do you know who your perfect members are? They’re the ones who stand to get the highest perceived value out of your organization and are willing to pay for what you are offering. Using information from surveys and research, you should be looking for common traits, needs, behaviors, and motivators for each of your membership segments.

Creating member personas enables you to better understand the needs of the people you want in your organization. This helps you package and price your benefits to provide the highest perceived value for each of your desired member groups – and tailor your messages and communications appropriately.

When members perceive your organization as valuable, they stay. When prospects think the benefits of being part of your organization is worth the investment, they join.

How to Create Member Personas

In our post, Growing Membership By Working Smarter, Not Harder, we explored how to segment your membership according to their needs and the perceived value they get from your organization.  If you haven’t read that article yet, take some time to go back and refer to it.

If you have never surveyed your members – or haven’t in a while – that’s a step you shouldn’t skip. Research in the way of surveys, focus groups, or interviews is essential to understanding who your members are so that you can segment them according to common characteristics and needs.

Here are a few characteristics and themes you may want to explore as you create your member personas:

Once you’ve assigned some characteristics to each of your membership segments, you may find that it’s easier to relate to them and understand what they need. You should keep re-visiting these personas as you create your membership strategy. They’ll remind you which members are getting the most out of your organization – and willing to pay for your services – and where you may need to make some changes to better cater for the segments you’re not connecting with.


Social Media Associations’ Top Strategy for Member Engagement

Social Media Associations’ Top Strategy for Member Engagement

Member engagement doesn’t happen randomly. Associations with increases in overall membership are “also more likely to have a strategic initiative in place for increasing engagement,” according to the 2015 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report from Marketing General.

Those that have been most successful – according to this study – cite participation in public social networking as the engagement strategy that has been most effective for driving engagement – more than young professionals programs, webinar attendance, and members-only website areas.

This makes sense. You can offer all the value-adding programs and services you want, but you won’t get very far unless you aggressively promote them, and social media has become a go-to tool for doing just that.

According to the study, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are the most-used platforms by hopeful associations looking to find new ways of connecting with members. Most of them have learned that the saying “if you build it they will come” doesn’t apply in the realm of social media. You have to actively build and nurture your social media page with timely, relevant content that’s helpful to your audience in order to increase exposure.

Association executives shared some of their best practices from their social media experience, including:

One thing to add … don’t make your content all about you. People get tired of seeing promotional content constantly – and eventually, Facebook won’t even show your posts in your fans’ newsfeeds. Try to make the majority of your posts serve your members’ and prospective members’ interests – it’ll make them more likely to read the occasional post promoting your next event.


5 Reasons Your Event Registration Numbers Are Low

5 Reasons Your Event Registration Numbers Are Low


You have the date set, your event organizing a committee on board, and your online registration site all set up. You’ve got an amazing event planned, so why aren’t people registering?

It might be that you need to give your marketing strategy a little more thought. Here are our top five reasons why you may not be filling your seats.

#1: They Don’t Know About It.

It’s too obvious, right? But when you are eyeball-deep in event logistics, it’s easy for marketing to become an afterthought. In reality, marketing should be the FIRST thing you think about when planning your event.

Start by putting together a simple event marketing strategy. Who are you trying to attract? What do they care about? How will you make the content of the event relevant and exciting to them? What are they willing to pay? What industry websites and publications do they read for their information? How and when will you communicate with them? Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll better understand how to bring value to your audience through your content and speakers.

#2: They Can’t Relate.

Prospective attendees should immediately connect with the event, and be compelled to learn more. They need to know exactly how they’ll benefit right off the bat. Fancy slogans can sometimes miss the mark. So when you’re putting together your marketing materials, always include a simple and brief description that includes who should attend, and specifically how they will benefit. This simple step can make a big difference.

#3: Your Topics and Speakers Are Old News.

People attend conferences and seminars to get new ideas. You need to give them valuable content, or they’ll move on to the next event. Find fresh ideas for topics and speakers by looking at industry websites and publications and making a list of topical themes in the most recent blog posts and articles. Check the Facebook pages of leading industry organizations to see which posts have generated the most activity.

It is good practice to pull out surveys from previous events to remind yourself of what went over well, and what didn’t. Looking back at reports from previous years will also give you an idea of which sessions were most attended, and who attended them. Even better, ask past attendees about which subjects most interest them.

If you’re struggling to generate the reports you need to make decisions, you may want to consider looking at event registration software that gives you in-depth event reports and built-in survey functionality. It’s worth the investment if it can help you make better decisions in the future.


The Right Questions to Ask on Your Next Membership Survey

The Right Questions to Ask on Your Next Membership Survey
You might say, “I already know my members – I am constantly talking to them and getting their feedback.” That’s a great start, and will definitely help you make an overall assessment of your members’ needs. However, there’s a danger in assuming that the select group of people you are talking to all share the same common attitudes and opinions.

You’ll need to draw on more quantitative, objective information for your analysis. The insights that come out of your analysis should form the basis of the decisions you make from then on.

So how do you get to know your members? There are a lot of different research methods you can use. A combination of formal membership surveys and informal interviews is ideal. It’s best to start with broader surveys. Once you’ve analyzed the results, you can ask a handful of members to schedule informal interviews so that you can get a better understanding of why the survey participants responded the way they did.

An effective membership survey collects all of the information you need while being as short as possible. Respondents should be able to finish it in 10 minutes or less. Anything longer can cause them to drop off before completion.

It’s a good idea to have the survey available online and as a hard copy to increase response rates. Most membership management software has built-in survey tools, which allow you to connect your members’ responses to their demographic information. This is really useful when analyzing the information.

Getting the Right Information

If you’re looking at your members only in terms of their titles, industries, or membership levels, you are likely missing vital information that will help you create more value for your target members and prospects.

The truly valuable insights are reached when you evaluate your members and prospects based on their behaviors, needs, values, interests, motivations, and attitudes. Everything you do – from building membership packages to creating marketing messages – should be based on these key elements.

Demographic & Personal Information

In order to get your members and prospects to take positive actions, you must address their personal needs.  Access to demographic and personal information can help you connect your members’ actions – attending events, purchasing subscriptions, or discontinuing memberships – to the motivations and attitudes that triggered the actions. Demographic information also assists you in identifying the characteristics your key members and prospects have in common.

Every association is different, so the types of information you choose to collect will vary according to your objectives. Some examples of demographic or personal information include:

To understand how this information is useful in practice, consider the example of two engineers belonging to an industry association. One of them is new to the field, and the other has 35 years of experience.

The young engineer joined so he could access educational resources and advance his career.  The more experienced electrician has already done all the learning he is interested in doing. To him, the value of being a member is having his interests represented through the organization’s advocacy work.

Promoting the value of advocacy to the young engineer would be totally ineffective because it doesn’t really matter to him. To attract and keep members, you need to find ways to express what matters to them. Demographic and personal data help you do that.

Be sure to check back next week, when we’ll cover what kinds of questions to ask your members to get an insight into how they perceive your organization, what kind of value they get from their membership, and the needs you should be meeting.


The Keys to a Good Membership Pricing Strategy

The Keys to a Good Membership Pricing Strategy

How confident are you in your organization’s membership pricing strategy? Are you doing everything you can to generate the most revenue while satisfying existing members and drawing new ones in?

Promoting the right membership packages and add-ons to the right people at the right price is fundamental to both member acquisition and member retention. Once you’ve taken the time to understand the needs of your members, you can develop more flexible pricing strategies to generate reliable revenue streams.

It’s important to consider your overall business objectives before setting prices and packaging benefits. Is your goal to capture more market share? Are you looking to expand into new markets? Do you want to encourage your lower-level members to upgrade?

Review and Revise your Membership Structure

Every association is different, and there is no concrete formula for effective membership structures. The key is to cater to the kinds of members you want to appeal to.

First, you’ll want to compare your organizational assessment with the member profiles you’ve developed. Analyze each member profile, and make a note of where your organization is falling short of delivering value. Then, you should think of ways that you can enhance your current offerings or introduce new benefits to fulfill more of your members’ needs. This is particularly important for members who make a large membership investment but have a low perceived value of their membership.

Look at which products and benefits could be bundled together to match the needs of each group, and then see if you can put a value on the total package. You may just need to tweak your current membership levels, but if you find that your current membership options don’t align with your key targets, overhauling your membership structure might be your best option.

It’s not realistic to make your membership packages meet every last need of your target audiences. Even within your segmented groups, interests and needs will still vary. Try to balance price and perceived value, and leave room for purchasing add-ons separately to account for these variances.

Ideas for Developing Your Pricing Strategy

Many associations use a cost-plus pricing model, a simple method in which a markup percentage is added to operational costs to make a profit. This is by far the easiest price structure to calculate, however, it is often not in an association’s best interest. Many associations purposely try to keep their costs low for members, but this thinking has its downsides. For example, in cases of unforeseeable economic downturns, it can cause members to drop off when times get tough.

Value-based pricing has emerged as a much more effective way to set membership prices. It enables an association to set prices based on the value it is offering members, instead of the actual cost.

“Because members and prospects vary in their price sensitivity and preferences, you should consider a variety of pricing strategies to enhance your marketing efforts and sell memberships and products.” (Jacobs, 2014) Here are just a couple ideas to consider …

1. Price for value. Don’t undervalue what you are offering, particularly if it’s a need-to-have product, your competitors can’t match it, or there is prestige associated with being a member. This rule is especially important when determining the price differences between your membership levels.

2. Increase dues by a small percentage each year rather than making infrequent large increases. Many members already expect incremental increases, and they are much easier to swallow than large increases that come as a surprise.

3. Offer VIP options. Add an additional layer to your pricing, and additional revenue, by allowing members of any status to register for events or programs under a VIP category. Added benefits for VIPs might include reserved seating, invitations to cocktail receptions, or special gifts.

4. Build perceived value. You can do this by offering add-ons without charging more. Examples might include free professional advice or free publications for certain types of members. With this strategy, you’ll need to price your other programs, products, and services so that they cover the cost of the “free” offering.

5. Offer monthly memberships and billing. Many associations are already starting to offer monthly installment options on annual memberships. Why not consider taking that one step further and offering a monthly membership option? This strategy could help you attract some of your on-the-fence prospects and eventually sign them as long-term members. To them, it’s a low-risk way to try out the benefits of membership.

6. Create urgency. Think early-bird special. This strategy works well for events and other programs. Combine limited quantities with special pricing that expires at some point to encourage your members to register quickly.

7. Attract with high-value, low-cost products. For example, you may offer a large discount on the price of your annual conference to draw members in, and then subsidize the cost of the event by charging for related events and activities on an al a carte basis.

8. Offer discounts for group members with high participation. If you don’t already have a group membership option for corporate and other industry organizations, now is the time to think about putting one in place. You could offer these members generous discounts for enrolling a certain percentage of their employees.


The Right Questions to Ask on Your Next Membership Survey (Part 2)

The Right Questions to Ask on Your Next Membership Survey (Part 2)

In last week’s post, we looked at why membership surveys are important, and the basic demographic and personal information you need to understand who your members are. The key to retaining your members – and attracting new ones – is knowing what they need and value, how you can fill those needs, and what they think of your organization.

Once you have some data to paint a good picture, you can begin adapting your strategies so that you’re relevant and providing better value. That’s ultimately the deciding factor in whether your members stay or go.

Here we look at the kinds of questions you’ll need to ask to collect this vital data …

Annual Membership Investment – and RETURN VALUE on Investment

Knowing how much revenue you are generating through each member can help you prioritize where to devote your efforts. Some experts are now suggesting that perceived value on investment is an even stronger motivator than actual return on investment for members to join and renew. Perceived value is what people are willing to spend on a particular product or service.

Comparing what members are spending with their perceived value of the benefits can help you identify potential barriers to retention. It can also give you clues as to how your benefits could be packaged differently to provide your members with more value for money.

When you analyze perceived value in conjunction with your members’ challenges, you’ll be able to determine how well you’re delivering your value promise.

Questions to ask in your membership survey:

  • Which programs and benefits have you used during the year, and how often?
  • For each benefit you’ve used, what dollar value would you assign to it?
  • How much did you invest in our association during the year, including dues + add-ons?
  • Do you believe your membership investment last year was fair, less than fair, or more than fair for the value you received?

Challenges and Needs

Your association exists to meet your members’ needs. Staying ahead of the curve and leading the charge on new information and industry trends is an important feature of many associations. For this reason, it is crucial not to become one of those associations that offer the same exact services year after year.

Could it be possible that your services are designed to meet challenges that are no longer relevant or not as valued? Your survey can help you find out.

Questions to ask in your membership survey:

  • What are the top three challenges you are facing right now?
  • Rank our services based on what you feel is most important. (List all services)
  • Is there anything you would like to see added or enhanced about our service offerings?
  • What other member-based industry organizations do you belong to?

Perception of Your Organization

Perceived value is the fundamental driver of membership, and different members value different things. If you consider your organization to be a leader in your industry, you should find out whether your members agree.

Questions to ask in your membership survey:

  • What do you believe is the primary function of our association?
  • Compared to other organizations in the industry, what are the advantages of belonging to our organization?
  • How did you first hear about us?
  • Do you intend to renew your membership?
  • If not, what could we offer you that would make you renew?
  • What do you like the most about being a member of our organization?
  • What would you improve about or add to your membership experience?
  • Why did you initially join the organization?
  • How long have you been a member?
  • How often do you read our newsletter, visit our website, etc?
  • Rate each of our benefits/programs on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being most valuable and 1 being least valuable.
  • What types of information and resources do you seek to stay on top of industry trends?
  • How likely are you to refer a friend to join?
  • Which of these words do you associate with our organization? (list several words, ie. Advocate, knowledge leader, innovator)
  • How satisfied are you with our level of service?
  • What is your preferred source for industry information? (magazines, websites, etc)