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Why Just One Kind of Member Research Isn’t Enough

Associations Now

By pursuing both quantitative data and qualitative input from its members, the Construction Financial Management Association discovered a gap in its member value proposition—and how to fix it. For associations looking to better attract and engage members, the answer is better data. “That one-to-three-year member, that member’s probably fairly new to construction.

The Marketing of Marketing is not Telling Us The Whole Story About Member Research


And we focus far more on data and surveys than we do on qualitative market research. Technology promises to give us unprecedented access to our members’ hearts and minds but does it really deliver? When you first step into a marketing role at an organization with few member insights, start with the data. We may start to repel members instead of attracting them.

Members Who Share Their Opinions Expect Action (here is what we are going to do!)

Smooth The Path

Our members won’t want to give 45-minutes to hour of their time for an interview is a common worry among many association executives. But I find that members actually do. These best members are the ones who believe in the association, who get more value than most or who believe in the promise of the association. Members expect us to act on their insights.

Case Study: In-depth Member Interviews Feed Association’s Strategic Plan

Smooth The Path

What else should the association do to support members during these extremely challenging times? In preparation for other strategic planning processes the association conducted quantitative member surveys but found the results were not all that actionable because there continued to be so many unanswered questions. Learn if there were any barriers preventing deeper member engagement.

Why We Might Be Interpreting Our Association’s Data All Wrong

Smooth The Path

Our assumptions about our members can be wrong. We see the data footprints members leave in their wake, the renewals, the ways they engaged, the content they read. The only way to overcome this bias is to find out what is driving our member’s actions, goals, fears, and challenges. It is not enough to look at the data and see what our members are doing.

Members Leave Associations Without a Sound

Smooth The Path

Related: Don’t ask for feedback from members who are too new. Asking members to opt in after a bad member experience. The post Members Leave Associations Without a Sound appeared first on Smooth The Path. Member Research exit survey exit-surveys lapsed member member experience member feedback member insights member research

There are Important Things We May Not Know About the Association

Smooth The Path

There are some things about the association we may not know unless we ask members. our long-time members are disengaging. we use different words than our members use. we are solving a problem members have already solved. We may not know about the big things and the little things, especially the little things, that take nips out of our member’s experience.

Data and Association Decision-Making

Smooth The Path

We feel better when we can say 75% of our members do this. When making a strategic decision on the basis of qualitative data (a member survey, our own data or third party data) ask these questions: Who responded and are these the members we most need insight from? What is our goal and does our research methodology support our goal ? Why do we want statistics so much?

Don’t Ask for Feedback from Members Who Are Too New

Smooth The Path

Should we look outside the association to talk to prospective young members? The post Don’t Ask for Feedback from Members Who Are Too New appeared first on Smooth The Path. Member Insights Member Research member feedback member insights member research new members qualitative member research quantitative member research

Before You Go To Your Go-To Member Insight Methodology

Smooth The Path

Match your business goals, your project’s goals, your members’ goals with the right member research methodology. Why no member survey may be better than one member survey. The post Before You Go To Your Go-To Member Insight Methodology appeared first on Smooth The Path. Consider what the methodology is best at doing.

Helping Members Answer the Questions that Matter Most

Smooth The Path

There’s an interesting dance that happens with member research. We ask the questions we think we want to know the answers to but members see those questions and find they would rather answer some other more important questions. Online surveys don’t allow and don’t prompt members to add important questions and then answer them. Onward!

Mind the Member Gap

Smooth The Path

When I talk to relatively new members there is almost always a 3-5 year gap between when the member started in the profession or industry and when they actually became a member of the association. This is why younger members don’t join our association: Awareness – They don’t know about the association. Why didn’t you join sooner?

How Often are We Out of Sync with Members?

Smooth The Path

Likely members think the value of their membership is more than or less than we think they think it is. Likely members have better or worse experiences with the association than we guess they do. Likely members like the conference more or less than we assume they do. Might your association be out of sync with members? A new way to think about why member join.

Data and the Member Story That Resonates

Smooth The Path

Why no member surveys may be better than one member survey. You analyzed member data and conducted surveys, here’s what is next. The post Data and the Member Story That Resonates appeared first on Smooth The Path. Marketing Member Research Storytelling association story telling context member data qualitative member research quantitative member research survey

To Conduct Exit Surveys or Not to Conduct Exit Surveys

Smooth The Path

My guess is, we would learn: most members don’t renew because their job changed, some smaller number didn’t renew because they didn’t see the value, and some others didn’t renew because the price is too high. There’s not much we can do when a member moves out of the profession or industry. Related: Why no member surveys may be better than one survey.

Learn About Members’ Why

Smooth The Path

This is great advice but it is awfully hard to do when we don’t know our members’ why. For every action (or inaction) members (and non-members) take there is a why. As established organizations, knowing our member’s why helps us develop and communicate our why. 76% of our members renew but, only 42% of new members renew. But why does.

Why Didn’t Our Members Choose Us?

Smooth The Path

It is so frustrating… Industry suppliers launch competitive products and events and our members purchase them. Members have a challenging problem and we have the solution but they do not use our solution. We reach only 14% of the population of potential members. Only 25% of our members come to the conference. Our members are busy. Why so few? Onward!

Price 20

Please Ask Members

Smooth The Path

As a member researcher I see some validity to this statement. Research, particularly qualitative research is very good at naming member problems but members themselves are often hard pressed to articulate the right solution. Because members can’t say what they want the only way for us to determine what they need is to observe them.

Using member research

Optimist Consulting

Last week 30 membership professionals gathered to hear about member research and what it can do for an organisation. The first presentation, from Seb Elsworth at ACEVO (where I used to work), the charity CEO membership body, who focused on using research to inform the strategic planning process. Then Amanda Rosewarne from Kingston Business School talked about her project collecting CPD research amongst employers and professional bodies. I organised the event on behalf of MemberWise , a free resource for those working in the membership field. Membership

Our Members Are Not Crazy

Smooth The Path

Members don’t take the time to understand their benefits. Those chapter leaders are not communicating well with new members. There are so many situations that pit association staff against members. If you are sometimes baffled by your member’s decisions or your board’s decisions check out a timely article I recently became aware of.

We Are Finding Out What Skills Association Leaders Need Today (And You Can Too!)

Smooth The Path

When these results are back we will create a final report combining insights from both studies; statistically valid quantitative results with select anonymous stories and context from the qualitative research to illustrate the key findings. -What skills do today’s association leaders need? What can association CEO’s be doing to nurture great boards? And now we are asking them!

One Thing We can do to Prepare for Change

Smooth The Path

Related: Members need association help when they face change or start something new. Did you know that member surveys can be risky? Association Strategy Member Research change innovation member insights member problems risk strategy technologyThe award-winning process for association innovation.

Results indicate that Membership Associations Who Performed Member Research in 2012 Had Higher Acquisition and Renewal Rates.

Experts in Membership Marketing

This year we learned that 65% of membership associations that introduced member research in 2012 saw an increase in new members. If your leadership needs it, these results provide a strong rationale to perform member research. Results from the 2013 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report continue to get more interesting everyday!

Overcoming Association Change Fatigue

Smooth The Path

If you are walking into an association where one or a combination of any of these things have happened, you may see that everyone is fatigued; staff, board and maybe even members. One great way to build trust is learn about members and help everyone else to learn about members in a new way. By doing this we learn what is most important to members now. Start at discovery.

IBMS: achieving a 25% response rate for their members’ survey

Optimist Consulting

Recently, I helped my client The Institute of Biomedical Science carry out a members’ survey. In addition to approving the survey, they were also great ambassadors for the project when they were out and about talking to members. Choose the right supplier – if you are going to use a research company, carry out a tender to find the right supplier for you.

When did you last map your member touchpoints?

Optimist Consulting

Understanding how your members and potential members experience your organisation is an important insight in membership development. It is easy to think we know what members are experiencing, but unless you understand and monitor where the organisation ‘touches’ them you won’t truly know what their experience is. The map is a good tool for reviewing your member experience.

Joint Surveys and the Importance of Knowing Your Industry

Association Adviser

More about the importance of knowing your association members and your industry in depth. Marketing & Communications Membership association research industry research marketing research member research member surveys. The post Joint Surveys and the Importance of Knowing Your Industry appeared first on Association Adviser -. surveys

Exploring Association Innovation: New Study


In fact, Amanda Kaiser, qualitative member researcher and Chief Pathfinder at Kaiser Insights, and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), recently teamed up to put together the 2016 Association Innovation Research Report. “Innovative” is something all companies - both big and small, for-profit and non-profit - aspire to be. That said, it can be done!

Four Untrue Myths of Association Innovation that Stop Us in Our Tracks


Association professionals say their association is not innovating because they are under-resourced, they don’t have the right ideas or don’t know how to prioritize between a bunch of great ideas, or the association’s stakeholders (leadership, staff, board, members) fear risk. Just saying that word to board or staff members sometimes can elicit outright fear. You are already doing it!

The 4 Skills Associations Should be Teaching

Smooth The Path

What we are lacking are life skills that can make our member’s lives (and jobs) significantly better. Life skills that can make them happier, more productive; a better professional and a better member. My guess is relationships are actually deteriorating between staff members at most American corporations. Dr. Carol Dweck proves this out in her research.

Diversify Your Retention Rate, and Other Membership Ideas

Associations Now

Your intrepid membership blogger returns from two conferences at regional societies of association executives with a roundup of tips and ideas, including great questions for member research and the power of delegating metric measurement to staff. Surely you’re already tracking your association’s overall member-retention rate. Yes, rates, plural.

Are Members Getting Value or are They Satisfied?

Smooth The Path

The value members perceive they get from the association or their satisfaction in the association? This question was posed by an association executive during a webinar on member research that I recently gave to 140 attendees. ” Our members get value from different offerings the association has at different times in their career. What should we be measuring?

Focus on Members Who Love You the Most

Associations Now

Why one association researcher discounts nonmember feedback in favor of the highly engaged, and how that choice relates to associations’ strategic decisions about what segments to engage. In Friday’s general session, Amanda Kaiser of Kaiser Insights LLC shared her experience in getting inside the minds of members for better recruitment and engagement.

Three Difficult Conversations Meeting Planners May Encounter

Associations Now

So, you and your team put a lot of time and effort into creating a meeting that you were sure would drive high attendance numbers given past experiences or even member research. Everyone must face unpleasant or difficult conversations in both their professional and personal lives. Here are three tough conversations meeting planners may encounter. Is there a best way to handle them?

Why I like the Market Research Society’s (MRS) successful membership change project

Optimist Consulting

I know from working with my clients on membership change projects that there are two essential elements to any change process that affect members: Ensuring you use a long-term communications campaign that is consistent. Taking your members along with you. Talking to members. By connecting it closely to members they made it relevant to their audience. The starting point.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves


Even our members seem immune to our messaging. Can members quickly and easily make the link from their problem to our solution? As prospective members progress down a decision-making path and we need to appeal to them at every step. Now is not the right time for your member to join, attend or buy. A member joined to solve a problem. What is going on? Affinity.

How Are Associations Using Twitter?


While all of these things are important for our members to know perhaps pushing all of the time is not so engaging. Instead of just pushing messages through Twitter here are some other ways to use this social media channel that may help you serve your members. Build relationships with members, vendors and industry influencers. Discover. Connect. Celebrate. Serve. Promote.

Peek Behind the Scenes of One Innovative Annual Conference for New Ideas to Use at Your Annual Conference

Smooth The Path

For many new members the annual conference is the first time they get to interact with the association and the community in a meaningful way. Many members also say the conference is the biggest value compared to the association’s other offerings. Here are the top challenges we all have and here is what we did about them: New Members Feel Like Outsiders. Did I tell you?

It is Time to Revisit Our Member Segments

Smooth The Path

Going one step further, we typically see segment-able behavior, preferences or problems within our classically defined member categories. We may see members who are far more entrepreneurial than most. We may see members who are more forward thinking than most. We may see members who are more willing to experiment than most. Do your members have a job or a calling?

Association Boards That Fail

SCD Group

The other day, an association executive called me about coordinating member research needed after a “failed” strategic planning session. He shared the association’s major issue: a board that doesn’t understand the organization and doesn’t seem to be able to look toward the future. “It It dawned on me that my own board wasn’t able to distinguish the organization from its convention.