Announcing an Entirely New Methodology for Member Research

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The associations with high member engagement know their members well. In fact, you might work at one of these member engagement unicorns. Do staff regularly conduct member research? Are listening tours, welcome calls, or member interviews on your list of to-dos?

When is it Time to Turn to Qualitative Member Research?

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When surveys stop working but you still need to learn more about member’s challenges, problems, opinion, needs, wants, and goals. You analyzed member data and conducted surveys, here’s what is next. Helping members answer the questions that matter most. The post When is it Time to Turn to Qualitative Member Research? Member Research member insights member research qualitative member research quantitative member research solutions surveys

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A Member Research Strategy to Consider

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In the last post and the one before , I have been talking about all the benefits of the qualitative methods of research (qualitative research is deep-dive, story-driven research that is adept at answering your complex questions.). Qualitative is not statistically significant, and unless your membership is very small, we cannot capture every member’s voice. Many quantitative surveys can be statistically significant, and they are usually open to every member.

Before You Go To Your Go-To Member Insight Methodology

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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.

Associations are Leaving Data on the Table

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Back in the old days of in-person meetings, member conversations helped only the members having the conversations. Not only do their conversations help them, but these conversations can also help us help them because these conversations are untapped rich qualitative member data. There is a mountain of data languishing unanalyzed, from the attendee chat record at virtual conferences to the member contributions to online communities to even the video from chapter meetings.

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

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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 researchRelated: Data and association decision-making.

What Member Feedback to Keep, and What to Toss

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Often from the board, sometimes from members, periodically from volunteers, and maybe from staff. We want to be responsive to our members, but wouldn’t it be great if we knew if the feedback was correct or not? Not every view is shared by every member.

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

SocialFish

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. Perhaps you have the tools to segment your audience to figure out who the organization’s biggest champion is, or the biggest user, or most profitable member group.

Board Member Focus Groups Tend To Be Wildly Inaccurate

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When it comes to member research, and maybe even feedback, your board is not a reliable source. Board members may: Remember the good old days and want to return the association to that time. Be much more advanced in their careers than the average member. Have a more robust network than most members. Feel more connected than most members. Board members usually are not representative of your core members, or average members, or new members.

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

SocialFish

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. Perhaps you have the tools to segment your audience to figure out who the organization’s biggest champion is, or the biggest user, or most profitable member group.

Learn About Members’ Why

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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. Just like – what doesn’t make for a very compelling story but, why does – what doesn’t make for very actionable member insights but why does.

How Often are We Out of Sync with Members?

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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. The problem with being disconnected with members is we may focus on the wrong strategies, develop the wrong new products or services or send out marketing messages that just don’t hit the mark.

How to Leverage Your Association’s Super-Members

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The trouble with association boards is they tend to be populated with super-members. Super-members are members who are so engaged, so seasoned, so advanced in the profession or industry they are not like most members. Don’t ask them to guess what new members need or want.

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A Cheaper, Faster Way to Conduct Your Member Listening Tour

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Imagine what you can learn by listening to your members share their thoughts, ideas, goals, and problems. The post A Cheaper, Faster Way to Conduct Your Member Listening Tour appeared first on Smooth The Path. Association Innovation Member Research listening member insights member problems member relationship member research qualitative member research starting relationships

Helping Members Answer the Questions that Matter Most

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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. Qualitative member research methods do. These new questions always yield super insightful results.

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

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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. It is time to discover your members’ stories. Do you know that member surveys can be risky?

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

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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. And there are two caveats: first, the association has to be so valuable or so important members want to give feedback and second, the members who actually want to give their feedback are almost always the best members. Members expect us to act on their insights.

Our Point of View is Not Our Members’ Point of View

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Our members may think membership is priced too high because of its impact on their budget or personal wallet. If members bought all the benefits a la carte, they would pay twice as much. But, our members may not see any value because the association is not solving the problem they have right now. Members see three precious days out of the office, away from their families. Is your staff’s point of view the same as your members?

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Data and Association Decision-Making

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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? 45% want this. 68% prefer this. We tend to think statistical measures are the truth.

Members Leave Associations Without a Sound

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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 researchThere are important things we may not know about the association.

Our Members are Self-Centered

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Our members are self-centered. Our members have… no time. Only organizations that solve our member’s problems, speak their language, and understand them will get their time and attention. Can you stand in your member’s shoes and do this? Related: Member Engagement Research. Better member retention from frictionless experiences designed for your association. Our point of view is not our member’s point of view.

Our Member’s Decisions Are Not What They Seem To Be

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Do you ever find yourself wondering why members make the decisions they make? Sometimes member’s decisions seem so irrational. Why are our members so irrational? At that moment, in their shoes, knowing what they know, having the experiences they have had, in the environment, our members are in, they are making the most rational decision possible. Related: When we create a vacuum of information, our members make up stories.

Our Members Are Not Crazy

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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. Hearing member’s stories is such a valuable thing, but these stories can be tricky to hear.

One Thing We can do to Prepare for Change

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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. The post One Thing We can do to Prepare for Change appeared first on Smooth The Path.

There are Important Things We May Not Know About the Association

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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. Members don’t usually offer up that kind of information.

Is it Day 1 or Day 2 for Associations?

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True customer (member) obsession and high-velocity decision making are the most critical but also the most difficult for associations. Think about your members. Think about your best members. Not board members but regular members who are highly engaged. We can develop offerings members love. We can attract high-quality members with our improved marketing. Related: How to exponentially improve member engagement at any association.

Please Ask Members

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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. The problem with this quote is too often it is used as proof of why member research, of why asking, is the wrong tactic to use for our associations. We have got to ask our members.

Mind the Member Gap

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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. Value – They know about the association and they know it is for them but they just don’t see the value of being a member.

Overcoming Association Change Fatigue

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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. What do you do if you are coming to an association that has a recent messy history?

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

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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. With this in mind they decided to test out a qualitative research methodology as input to this strategic planning process. Listening to members.

Developing My Dream Association

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If I were to build an association, I would pull the most significant insights from all of the research I have conducted. One of the core staff values would be to be intensely member-focused. We would talk with members often, conduct listening tours, and interview them.

Engaging Not New or Long, But Medium-Time Members with Your Association

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While conducting member research new members and long-time members share why they engage with their association (and why they don’t). Here’s why 3-7 year members engage with our associations: Because they have already found value and had great experiences, so they assume more value and great experiences are to be had. Related: How new members are prompted to engage. The new member engagement rule of three.

How Are Associations Using Twitter?

SocialFish

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. Use your feed to highlight member’s awards, member milestones and great work done by members.