Are your members too busy to engage with your association? Maybe it’s time to rethink how you talk about member benefits and services, reframing them as time-saving opportunities.
Busyness is a modern-day epidemic. Need evidence for that?
We have screen-time apps that tell us how long we’ve been staring at our smartphones, calendar alerts that buzz or chirp throughout the day to remind us about meetings, and GPS apps that predict whether or not traffic will make us late to dinner. These tools are helpful but also stress us out, constantly reminding us of our busy and distracted lives.
Busyness is a recurring theme in consultant Amanda Kaiser’s interviews with members of her client associations. She starts every conversation by asking members to share the biggest challenge they face, and almost always she hears a common refrain: “I don’t have enough time” or “I’m just too busy.”
“I’m sure association executives feel it too,” Kaiser says. “There is just never enough time in the day to do what we want, whether it’s personally or professionally.”
While most associations offer benefits and services that help members save time, they often fail to quantify or market the time-saving value of these benefits, Kaiser notes in a recent post on her blog, Smooth the Path.
For instance, your association’s benchmarking study gives members quick access to broad information about their industry or profession that would take a great deal of time and effort for them to gather on their own. And your online community is a place where members can go to ask questions and receive quick answers that are qualified, monitored, and shared in a members-only space.
“If you go into the hornet’s nest of LinkedIn and Facebook communities, some are fabulous, but others are not,” Kaiser says. “Associations that have online communities provide a source of huge time savings for members.”
Beyond the benefits you already provide, Kaiser says your membership team can work with other departments to determine where you might be able to create additional time-saving opportunities that would reap big rewards for members. Here are three examples:
Meeting breaks. At conferences, attendees must balance their participation with work still to do at the office. A solution might be to shorten your conference or to host meetings with downtime baked into the schedule.
In a blog post, Eric Lanke, president and CEO of the National Fluid Power Association, suggests that associations consider giving attendees the afternoon to focus on personal work. Kaiser likes that idea: “As conference attendees, we’re always racing around like mad lunatics,” she says. “But what if you could tell your members: ‘Hey folks, you have the afternoon off.’ That could be such a huge time-saving gift.”
Networking on the fly. From speed mentoring to roundtables, associations are developing more networking events designed for speed. And don’t miss those ad hoc opportunities that arise unexpectedly. “Perhaps staffers are so well connected to members that they know individuals by name, and they can connect two members together,” she says. “That could be a huge time saver.”
Custom research and consulting. The U.S. Travel Association and the Local Search Association offer extended services that members opt in and pay for. These custom research and consulting services present a twofold opportunity: Associations get a new source of nondues revenue, and members gain access to business intelligence and support.
“Some associations are experimenting with new ventures like this,” Kaiser says. “I think it’s a great opportunity to help members do more under the banner of time savings.”