The Strauss Blog

When to introduce a new product or service to your association

Member retention is an important area of focus for every association. Ensuring that your members are receiving value for their membership is a key to retaining existing members and recruiting new members. Many times, this means that the association should be identifying changing needs of members and introducing a new product or service that addresses new needs.

To determine the best product to offer to the membership, the following key concepts and factors should be considered along with the impact they would make on the association.

• Understanding the membership
• Communication and relationship building with the membership
• Retention and recruitment of members
• Member services
• Quality and pricing

Understanding the membership

Does your association have a communications plan or strategy in place? Associations should communicate with their members on a regular basis. A strategy that includes a call to action will promote the members to reply to you and provide you with the opportunity of open communication with your members.
These are good ways to reach out to your membership to ask for opinions and find out what members want to gain from the association.

• Focus Group – a face to face process of a smaller group of members typically led by a facilitator.
• Member Survey – questions sent to members to get information from the respondents.
• Interviews – personal interaction to obtain information. (This works well for smaller associations.)

Communication and Relationship Building

Relationship building is an important way to ensure member satisfaction and support. It is necessary to develop communication and relationship building plans. Communication and relationship building endeavors can create an awareness of programs and products and will ultimately lead to enhanced member support. This will also create a channel for two-way communication between members and leadership. Please see this blog on member communication.

Retention and Recruitment of Members

Having an effective recruitment and retention plan in place will help to ensure that you are meeting the needs of the members of the association. A recruitment plan could include the following:

• Research and Analysis
• Set goals and objectives
• Strategies and tools
• Budget
• Roles and responsibilities for staff and volunteers
• Targets and performance benchmarks

In the competitive association market, it cannot be assumed that a member will renew annually. There needs to be a clear plan created with effective benchmarks.

Member Services

Associations that do not spend enough time servicing their members will cease to exist. It is essential to understand the member needs and offer programs or services that they desire. The perception of the value of the services members receive from their association will determine which association wins or loses in the competitive market – so be sure to regularly remind your members about the value that they do receive.
Communication with members about activities the association is partaking on their behalf and the outcomes from these pursuits is crucial for ensuring that members understand the intangible benefits that the association provides.

Quality and Pricing

It is important to implement quality and pricing policies that are linked to the association’s values, vision and mission. These policies then need to be communicated to the membership.
In terms of the association, it is important that break even is considered and the association is prepared for offering a new service.

Using pricing tools can help to ensure that your association is at breakeven or a profit status. The basic formula is:

Revenue (R) = Fixed Costs (F) + Variable Costs (V) (and sometimes) + Desired Profit (P)

When it comes to members, value needs to be considered.

In reality, price is the only variable members will question when making an investment. This can be seen as:

Value = benefits received / price paid

More information on value can be found at the following blog: https://strauss.ca/communicating-value-proposition-association-membership/

In conclusion, it is important as an association to continue to evolve your services to reflect your member needs. Offering new products should be clearly planned and evaluated starting with the very basics of getting to know your membership. Highlighting successes to the membership is very important – intangible services such as government relations are difficult to measure but can add immense value to the association.

If you are unsure of when to offer a new service or profit, the first place you should go is to your membership. Find out what they would value as an addition to their membership. Create the open communication and you will see your association moving in the direction of becoming a high performing association.