For my trip to the ASAE Annual Conference, I picked-up and started reading a great book entitled "The Prime Solution" by Jeff Thull. It is a great read. While I'm still in the middle of it, I wanted to share something from the book that I am already finding useful in my own work with clients - a long-term look at how product development has moved from almost a level of 'cooperative play' (my words, not the authors) to a level of 'integration'.
'Era 1,' ("Obvious Value") - In the 1950's, sellers in the b-to-b world built an marketed products based upon basic needs fulfillment - the idea that the product will sell itself. It was either bought or not.
'Era 2' ("Augmented Value") - This period spans the '70's to the '90's and is characterized by providers building products which had a 'range of possibilities.' "There was the generic product...the expected product...augmented product' (p.28). This was solutions selling. The problem was that the solution typically was too difficult for the client to maintain or integrate into their business - in many cases due to the client's not fully understanding their needs and limitations (a result of a client's lack of introspection and the vendor's lack of helping the client to fully explore and understand their needs).
'Era 3' ("Complex Value Networks") - Started in the mid-1990's due to the increasing "speed of change" (p.30) and the increased complexity of problems. In short, Thull states that "...value complexity is the primary feature of the b-to-b landscape. Customers need more help than ever in diagnosing their problems and in designing, evaluating, and implementing solutions and achieving the complex, customized, and unique value they promise" (p.31).
While this model was presented in the context of technology solutions, I think it also describes the changes in marketing association memberships and associated products. In short, we can no longer just 'build it and they will come'. We need to help our members understand what they really want and need, then help them integrate these tools into their professional (and maybe personal) lives. That will foster engagement and we all know what that means to our renewal rates.
Let me know what you think...