May 24, 2016
With the rise of technology, the way associations run their operations has altered dramatically. There’s now an app for everything and face to face contact is a rarity. Association professionals may feel as if their organization is running on autopilot. It’s time to get back to basics. Every association exists because it serves a purpose. What is yours? To be successful, associations must lead their operations with their purpose-driven message. Your message will aid your association in developing its strategies to fulfill its mission. Your purpose-driven message will serve as the blueprint of your association. Let’s go back to the drawing board and master your message.
Think about any business. How do they function and make the decisions that spread awareness? They all run off of a business model that works for them. Now reel it back into the association space. Associations can use their purpose-driven message as its business model. Every decision you make should coincide with your purpose and what you want to achieve. Your mission will be based off of why you came into existence. Why should people join your association? What makes you different? What can they only get here? The answers to these questions are your purpose-driven message. If you can’t articulate why you exist, you can’t expect members to care that you do.
This is the first step in discovering your purpose-driven message. There are associations everywhere that specialize in everything. Think you’re the only association in your industry? I would think again. Chances are, there are numerous associations that can give you a run for your money. It’s important to identify what makes you different from the rest - this will tell members why you exist. If members are willing to pay a premium for your services, you will need to specify why you are unlike everyone else out there. Every association is different, what does that look like for your association?
This is probably fairly self-evident, but it’s incredibly important. In order to understand why you’re serving, you need to understand who you’re serving. By being vigilant of industry trends, you can see where you need to be. What is changing? What resources are lacking in the industry? What are members wanting to fulfill? By analyzing the demographics you target, you can give them what they want. If you understand what your members need from you, you can establish your purpose.
If you ask any association what its purpose is, you’ll probably get similar answers. “To enrich the lives of our members.” may sound familiar. It’s important to go beyond that. Many associations have vague missions. For you to stand out, it’s important to become hyper-focused. Think about TOMS shoes: You probably know exactly what its mission is, because it’s so precise. You need to give your members a “why.” Be specific. Be clean. Be crisp. Be exact. This will help prospective and current members understand exactly why they are there. It will also give you an edge, because nobody likes the generic elevator pitch.
If your association’s mission is disingenuous, people will be able to smell it from a mile away. This is the time to be honest with yourself. Since every decision you make is based off of your purpose-driven message - you need to make it right. Members won’t appreciate being told that their association stands for one thing, when it’s really another. Your mission should be the heart and soul of your association.
If your purpose-driven message is self-serving, you are doing it wrong. The entire reason your association exists is to benefit your members. With that being said, it’s crucial for your mission to concentrate on advancing them in some way. Members flock to associations because they are looking for something that is missing. They identify with what your association has to offer. Don’t you think it’s fair to make your purpose about them?
Your purpose-driven message is the blueprint of your association. It’s important to reflect and understand your value proposition and what your members want. By doing this, your association will be able to establish its purpose and mission. Associations should start off on the right foot and create a message that propels them to success.
To learn more about recruiting new members, take a look at our blog, Make Your Association a Top Recruiter.