Friday, September 16, 2011

It's about Member Indispensability

Dr. Adina Wasserman is a first-class researcher whom I'm very pleased to have worked with on a number of research projects. Her experience is second to none and her ability to take a piece of data and transform it into a usable piece of information is to be applauded.

In my own work, and during our conversations, Dr. Wasserman points out that member satisfaction levels, while providing a good benchmark for comparative evaluations over time, are not the best indicators of member engagement with the association. While satisfaction is certainly a part of member engagement and loyalty, we do not believe it is the driver.

I've seen this in many studies where current members and expired members both rated their experience with their association as being "satisfactory."

She recommends associations shift to an Indispensability and Needs Assessment study, which allows association members to assess the importance of the benefits and services offered, and then evaluate the quality of delivery of those benefits and services. This is called Gap Analysis, or the statistical comparison between the degree of importance and the perceived level of delivery. This research offers evidenced-based data pinpointing where an association is performing well and where it is not, and whether attention and resources should be focused to maximize programs or abandon them. We have both found, in our work together and seperately, that this methodology gives the most effective understanding of what the membership wants and expects from its association.

If you're thinking of performing a membership study, remember that its the member's loyalty to and dependence on the association that determines your renewals and ultimately your financial position.
Experts in Membership Marketing is written by Erik Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated. If you have any questions concerning the content please feel free to call him at (703) 706-0358 or email him at 

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