Big value in small doses


WHEN relating to existing and prospective members, many associations still fall into the trap of communicating value by enumerating their knowledge content, products, and features instead of highlighting what members value more: solving problems, advancing careers or the industry, or linking them up with their peers and their markets. The pandemic has amplified these needs from members.

I recently chanced upon a podcast by Mike Morrison of the Membership Guys, a UK-based resource and advice provider on growing a successful membership business. Mike mentioned four quick and almost effortless wins which I have contextualized based on my experience on associations here in our country. I gave these four quick wins an acronym: “HOPE.”

1. Helpmembers find solutions to specific needs and problems such as providing information on current events and trends that may affect them, or giving advice or referral on speaker sourcing requests, website improvement, or on office software and technologies in, for example, bookkeeping, member engagement, video conferencing, etc. These tools and tips, while simple, are valuable to members who will remember your association as a “go-to” problem-solving organization.

2. Open up opportunities for members to be visible and to contribute their talent and expertise such as being interviewed and featured in the association’s online and printed publications, speaking at events, writing articles and blogs, volunteering for a project, etc. These platforms, already set up and available in the association, can serve well the members’ wish or expectation to make themselves known to a broader audience.

3. Provide members with early access, priority and/or preferential rates to the association’s publications and program launches, and other activities. These small gestures serve the members’ desire for a “sense of exclusivity” which will be appreciated and valued.

4. Encourage and empower members to connect and link with other people such as colleagues, experts and mentors, and organizations like sponsors, grant givers and service providers. This connector role of the association is an intangible value to members who, by themselves, may not be able to undertake such linkages and networking.

In the end, it pays that an association knows its members very well and keeps a robust member database to be able to serve their needs and aspirations, whether big or small.

One initiative that my organization, the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives, is aiming to do during this pandemic is to be able to know better its members and understand their present situation. We organize virtual listening sessions where the secretariat staff meets with members to hear them out and learn from them their needs, ideas and pain points, if any. Through these interactions and exchanges, the PCAAE believes that it can serve its members well, now and in the future.

These small doses of service that an association is able to provide its members will go a long and big way for them to appreciate their membership in the association.

The column contributor, Octavio ‘Bobby’ Peralta, is concurrently the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific, Founder & CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives and President of the Asia-Pacific Federation of Association Organizations. The purpose of PCAAE—the “association of associations”—is to advance the association management profession and to make associations well-governed and sustainable. PCAAE enjoys the support of Adfiap, the Tourism Promotions Board, and the Philippine International Convention Center. E-mail: [email protected]

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