Why Sharpening The Value Proposition Matters for Membership Associations

Gil Gruber, MBA

Gil Gruber, MBA

With over 20 years of diverse marketing and sales experience, Gil’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to serial success in various business ventures, recognized on the “Maverick of the Morning” CNN show and awarded with the “Best of the Web” from Forbes. Gil is a frequent speaker at conferences, associations, and international events about emerging trends in B2B marketing and business expansion. His book “Turn On Marketing” is available on Amazon.
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In recent years, membership associations are facing multiple challenges due to gradually eroding value propositions. The aftermath of the pandemic, shifting member expectations, intensified competition, and rapid technological advancements have urged associations to reassess, fortify, and stay relevant.

In this blog, we will explore how constant evaluation and enhancement of values enable associations to uniquely benefit from continuous business growth. Here are a few important steps to consider:

Why Sharpening The Value Proposition Matters for Membership Associations

1. Need Assessment: The Forefront of Enhancing Value Proposition

Sharpening membership values starts with a comprehensive need assessment as a foundational step. It enables associations to pinpoint and address gaps between the services provided and the expected needs of prospective members. This process involves gathering insights from various segments of the member base, including existing, prospective, and (especially) lapsed members.

Lapsed members are a crucial source of insight. By understanding the reasons why they discontinued their membership, associations can effectively uncover immediate overlooked areas of interest and even win back their former members.

Discovering unmet needs or emerging trends also paves the way for developing innovative solutions and services that can differentiate membership associations from their competitors. This valuable feedback can assist with strategic decisions and improve member retention rates in the long run.

Establishing clear goals and assembling a cross-functional team, designing a data collection framework, prioritizing needs, crafting an actionable plan based on findings, communicating results to stakeholders, and monitoring post-assessment progress are some steps in maximizing the impact of the need assessment process for member-based organizations.


maximizing the impact of the need assessment process for member-based organizations

2. Member Satisfaction Surveys

Conducting member satisfaction surveys, like Net Promoter Score (NPS), is not a one-time endeavour but rather an ongoing dialogue between the association and its members. By prioritizing timing, engagement, and personalized connection in survey administration, associations can harness the full potential of member feedback to refine and enhance their value proposition.

Engagement levels play a critical role here, highlighting the necessity of cultivating a culture of engagement and fostering a sense of ownership and involvement among the members. Personalized communication and targeted outreach strengthen these connections, encouraging members to actively take part in shaping the association’s direction.
Setting clear objectives, defining the audience rigorously, minimizing the participation burden for the audience, testing, correct timing, actively promoting the survey, and sharing the results are among the strategies that can boost the effectiveness and accuracy of this tool for associations.

Member Satisfaction Surveys

3. Understanding Membership Churn

While attracting new members is essential for an association’s growth, so is retaining existing ones. Lapsed members’ non-renewals provide insights into where the association may have fallen short in delivering value or meeting expectations (and in most cases, the solution is fairly easy).

The churn rate works as an association’s health barometer and the pulse of its membership engagement. Analyzing churn data empowers membership associations to identify dissatisfaction patterns or unmet needs among members, ultimately leading them to craft and implement effective retention strategies. Moreover, engaging with lapsed members demonstrates a commitment to listening and responding to their concerns, which can help rebuild trust and encourage them to reconsider their decision to leave.

Utilizing CRM data, identifying the churn rate’s root causes, and developing proactive retention strategies are some steps associations can take to sharpen their value proposition for their members.

Understanding Membership Churn

4. Analyzing Revenue Sources

Reducing sole reliance on membership fees and exploring alternative sources of revenue enables associations to strengthen their financial resilience, better serve their members, expand their offerings, improve member engagement, and gain competitive advantages.
Revenue diversification mitigates the risks associated with fluctuations in membership levels or changes in the economic landscape. It helps associations capitalize on emerging opportunities, leading to growth, innovation, and sharpening the value proposition.


 Analyzing Revenue Sources

5. Innovation and Refinement

Adaptation and innovation are not just desirable qualities—they are essential for survival and growth as the needs and goals of members evolve with new trends. 

Associations’ ability to anticipate and respond to the changing needs and goals of their members requires a deep understanding of their preferences, pain points, and aspirations, checked regularly through ongoing engagement and feedback mechanisms.

Updating existing services, facilitating learning, introducing new programs, leveraging personalized member experiences, forging strategic partnerships with organizations outside their traditional sphere, and embracing emerging technologies are among the strategies associations use to sharpen their value proposition through innovation. 

Innovation and Refinement


The key takeaway is this: associations that prioritize member insights, satisfaction, and innovation through gradual introductions are better positioned to thrive. By embracing a culture of continuous improvement and innovation, associations can unlock new opportunities for growth and impact, ultimately fulfilling their mission of serving and advancing the interests of their members by honing their value proposition.

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