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Strong value propositions can help your association

Posted By Melinda Starkweather, Monday, November 9, 2015
Updated: Saturday, October 24, 2015

Strong value propositions can help your association!

A strong value proposition not only inspires your members and potential members, it inspires your team. It’s the overriding vision that connects your strategy to your market and keeps you on track.


We’ve run into groups that can articulate their value proposition on cue and groups that don’t have the foggiest idea why they matter in the market.


What is a value proposition? A promise of what you will do or provide, and what someone else will receive.


Why is it important?

We’ve heard apathetic associations say: “Members have to join. It’s a law.” If your association has legislation that legally compels members of a profession to join your group, then you’re marketing needs are less significant. For now. Laws, like minds, change from time to time.


If you don’t have a legal mandate forcing people to join, you need to clearly tell potential members what you will do for them and why you’re better than any other competing association.


Create a good value proposition:

Tease out what makes your association special. Using common language, not jargon, clearly state what you do, how the customer will benefit, and how your services are uniquely better than other competing services. If you can, use a graphic to underscore and drive emotion.


1. Who are you? Why should a buyer take notice of you?

2. What is your benefit? What will they get?

        a. Your association may have many benefits. Select one or two benefits as a focus for your      
            message. Make sure that these benefits are the ones most valued by your current members.

3.  How are you unique?

4.  Why should they buy now? Can you add some motivation to this decision?


For example:


1. Image result for tree houseWe are the association of professional tree house builders

2. We provide comprehensive online education and certification that is accepted nation-wide.

3. We are the only tree house builders’ association that provides local interest and special interest group forums where builders can share their photos and consult with each other.

4. Join today and get the member price for our annual conference.



Disruption. If you think your value proposition isn’t important because you don’t have competing associations, watch out! If you’ve found a niche that makes money, someone else will be interested too. Even associations riding the wave from a legal mandate may find another association popping up to enjoy that privilege too. Remember, laws change. We met a group that was suddenly scrambling because their legislative mandate ended and they had to start articulating a solid value proposition and earn loyalty and money from a group that was previously captive.


When your organization is deciding about a change—adopting a new technology or offering new services—reviewing whether it supports the value proposition is the easiest way to determine if that change is in line with your goals. Swapping IT systems just for an upgrade may feel good, but if the new system doesn’t support your value proposition then it’s not worth the effort.


When you take the time to articulate why your organization matters, it not only drives sales, but provides a roadmap for growth.



Melinda Starkweather, CMP is founding partner of Starkweather Association Services and enjoys bringing big-industry ideas to associations and smaller organizations.

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