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April 9, 2024

Define your Value Proposition to Drive Engagement

Developing a unique value proposition helps associations attract and retain stakeholders. Yet, many struggle to define and articulate this crucial value statement.

Understanding member needs and crafting a value proposition — one that unites your unique audience segments — requires reflection and some key strategic steps.

Value proposition framework: Define your ‘why?’

First, it’s important to fully understand what a value proposition encompasses. A value proposition should:

  • Offer a compelling statement of why an individual or company should be a member or customer
  • Highlight your organization’s strengths and competitive advantage
  • Support your overall mission, vision and brand by providing direction to departments on the development of benefits, resources and marketing language

At its core, an organizational value proposition should be a uniting factor for all your stakeholders.

Learn more about your members

If your organization’s value proposition fails to meet any of the above guidelines, it’s time to take a fresh approach and develop a new one.

To do that, you should consider conducting member research to explore and confirm the following:

  • Reasons to engage: What do your stakeholders want out of membership or engagement and how well are you meeting their expectations?
  • Benefits portfolio: What are the strengths and weaknesses of your benefits portfolio? Are there gaps in value that need to be filled?
  • Challenges: What’s keeping your members up at night and what’s your role in providing valuable and impactful solutions? What would make their lives easier?
  • Core value: What essential value do you offer your stakeholders? What can’t they live without?

Define member need and articulate your value

Once you have conducted member research, it’s time to perform an exercise to articulate your value proposition. To do this, you need to assess and define the following:

  • Member needs: Clearly articulate the needs of your stakeholders.
  • Product features: Review your benefits portfolio to assess your current ability to serve those needs. Match specific benefits with the stakeholder challenges and needs that surfaced in the research. In addition, identify any gaps in your benefits portfolio. This may fuel new product development.
  • Member benefit: For each benefit and feature, examine the value the end-user receives from engaging. For example, a curated research library might offer trusted answers and save you precious time from hunting down the answers on your own.

Blue graphic depicting defining member need and articulating value

Tailor for unique audiences

It is increasingly common to include distinct audiences who have different needs and preferences within your stakeholder base, and those audiences should have their own segmented value propositions. The key is to create tailored value statements that support the overarching proposition. In turn, this ensures a cohesive organizational strategy while supporting personalized engagement experiences.

Invest the time

Many associations struggle today with stagnant or declining membership. For some, the initial reflex is to move quickly to solve the issue by launching a new product or reducing pricing. However, the solution often lies in taking the time to define a clear, organizational value proposition.

A value proposition should be visible and obvious to staff, volunteer leaders and members alike. They should be able to easily express it and it should directly align with the greatest needs and expectations of your stakeholders.

Defining and articulating a strong and compelling value proposition gives staff a unified direction in which to execute your strategy. The result is enhanced value for all your stakeholders.            

Contact McKinley Advisors to get started on defining or updating your value proposition today.


McKinley Advisors

McKinley Advisors is an award-winning association consulting firm dedicated to accelerating associations’ positive impact on the world. McKinley works in partnership with association executives and volunteer leaders to identify and address their most significant challenges and opportunities. McKinley provides services...


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