A fundamental key to driving universal appeal and meaningful engagement is developing a unique and proven value proposition. My colleague and McKinley’s senior vice president of solutions, Tracy Talbot, recently wrote about the difficulty associations have understanding the foundation of their appeal to members — how to fully comprehend the roots of the value they provide.
Organizations across the association landscape share a common, recurring challenge with delivering consistent value and maintaining optimum levels of member engagement across their audiences.
For many, the test ultimately lies in defining and articulating an all-encompassing value proposition. Understanding member needs and crafting a value proposition — one that unites each of your unique segments — is a task that requires reflection and a few strategic steps.
Value proposition framework: Define your ‘why?’
First things first: understanding what a value proposition is.
A value proposition should offer a compelling statement of why an individual or company should be a member or engage with your organization and highlight your organization’s strengths and competitive advantage.
Closely related to your organization’s brand, the value proposition supports your overall mission and vision by working alongside them to provide direction to departments on the development of benefits, resources and marketing language.
At its core, a value proposition should be a uniting factor for all your stakeholders.
It is common to have distinct audiences within your membership who have different needs and preferences, and those audiences should have their own segmented value statements. However, the key is that each of those should support your overarching statement, ensuring a cohesive organizational strategy.
Perhaps most importantly, 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.
Learn more about your members
If your organization’s value proposition fails to meet any of the above requirements, it is 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 be a member – 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?
- Benchmarking – How do you measure up in the competitive market?
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 need: Understand the ultimate needs of your stakeholders.
- Product features: Review your benefits portfolio to assess your current ability to serve that need. Identify existing benefits and their specific features that address the needs of your stakeholders. Identify any gaps in your benefits portfolio.
- Member benefit: For each benefit and feature, examine the value the end-user receives from engaging. To help really put member needs into a big-picture perspective, the below graphic from Bain & Company breaks down specific elements of value that are most important to consumers in different industries.
Many associations are struggling today with stagnant or declining membership and for some the initial reflex is to find a “silver bullet” to solve the issue, such as a new product or reduced pricing. While this might be the answer, in McKinley’s experience the solution usually lies in defining a clear, organizational value proposition and consistently delivering on that promise.
Defining and articulating a strong and compelling value proposition gives staff a unified direction in which to execute your strategy and, as a result, ensures value for all your stakeholders.
Contact McKinley Advisors to get started on defining or updating your value proposition today.