Are you considering your members’ needs and expectations through each stage of their careers? Here are some strategies and techniques for supporting the needs of all your members – from students to retirees, and everyone in between.
As you think about your members’ relationships with your association, you likely think about the member journey – from the first interaction with your organization to the moment a member renews. You may also think about the member journey from the organization’s perspective: acquisition, onboarding, engagement, and renewal.
But, within that journey, are you also considering how your members’ needs and expectations change as they move through their careers? It’s important to look at the member journey throughout their entire relationship with your organization and also implement strategies and techniques to support their needs through each phase of their career – from student and early career to retirement.
What members want.
To start, consider what members are seeking. As part of the Member Education and Career Development Report, Community Brands found a shift in why individuals join member-based organizations within their industry. In the past, members felt a sense of professional responsibility to join. Today, many seek a place where they can network with other individuals while growing and developing their careers in various ways. In fact, 51 percent of members surveyed say they joined their current organizations for benefits such as continuing education and networking.
51 percent of members surveyed say they joined their current organizations for benefits such as continuing education and networking.
Providing value in each stage of your members’ careers.
So, while members typically join an association to develop and grow their careers, they get value from the organizations to which they belong in different ways along their career journey. As you think about your members, consider what they’re doing and what value your association can provide them in each phase of their careers.
Six ways to support members throughout the career journey.
Once you’ve thought through what members are looking for in each stage of their careers, you can begin to apply that knowledge to your member programs, services, and communications. Here are six ways to support members through various stages of the career journey:
1. Reach new members early in their careers. The Member Engagement Study found that the best time to attract new members is early in their career stage (as a student or between one and five years into their career). As you develop content for attracting prospective members – such as tip sheets, industry news, reports, or information about legislative issues affecting the profession – consider weighing it more heavily toward the early career stage segment.
2. Consider your pricing model. Price can be a barrier to joining, especially for those early in their careers. Consider offering a budget-friendly monthly payment option.
3. Re-think your programs and services. Take a close look at your member offerings and programs to see how they map back to what your members want most in each stage of their careers. Ensure your offerings provide three key professional development benefits in some capacity: learning and continuing education, career growth, and networking. As you onboard new members, be sure to highlight networking opportunities, learning opportunities, career resources, and key content that can help throughout their career journey.
4. Ask for feedback. Don’t wait until a member fails to renew to find out what went wrong. As you plan various member programs, make changes to your website or do anything that will directly impact your members, get your members involved. Select a few members that may be most interested in the project at hand and ask them for feedback. Be sure to include members at various stages in their careers.
5. Remind your members how your organization has helped, can help, and will continue to support their careers. As you near renewal dates, remind your members of the benefits and value they receive from your organization. This is a great time to segment your list and send targeted messages that highlight specific benefits that help them advance their careers. For example:
- Reinforce the value of membership by reminding members of the benefits they have taken advantage of so far, such as event discounts and learning opportunities.
- Remind members of the benefits they have not yet taken advantage of, and that there’s still time to do so.
- Let members know about the upcoming events and opportunities they’ll miss out on if they don’t renew.
6. Leverage association-specific technology. To support the member career journey, it’s critically important to have association-specific technology solutions in place. Make sure the technology you rely on for membership management, learning management, event management and career services is purpose-built and works well together. This approach will help your team operate efficiently and effectively, while providing the career support your members seek.