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It’s not that you’re acting improperly. It’s because you’re posing the incorrect queries.
Do you understand why people leave your association?

I was giving leadership coaching to a national business association that was having trouble retaining members. They have been rising steadily for years. But then something happened, and their numbers started slowly declining. Their present members weren’t renewing, and they weren’t enticing new ones. They contacted me after my keynote address on using narrative to build connection and engagement at their national convention. During their leadership retreat, we held a two-hour virtual session that permanently altered their association’s vision and strategy. In two hours, a LOT was covered. More hours of research were necessary for each bullet point I covered. However, one overarching theme emerged, and it continues to be the issue for many of us who are having trouble luring in, involving, and keeping members. In essence, it comes down to asking a single, crucial question.

But before, a quick digression

In our strategy meeting, my first responsibility was to inquire as to why they believed the numbers were declining. Here’s what they had to say:

We were the place to be initially. Now, organizations similar to ours are springing up everywhere.
People occasionally attend chapter meetings, but they rarely do so.
Our training isn’t being used by anyone. They claim to “not have the time.”
Facebook provides them with all the information they require. They get on the page, ask a question, and get 100 responses in return. It appears that they no longer require information from us.
Additionally, there could have been issues or room for improvement that the team had not yet identified.

We look in the same places we typically look when considering new ways to expand our association. Sometimes we fail to recognize the presence of a different kind of customer that we have never even attempted to reach.
The leadership team was, needless to say, discouraged. They had put a lot of effort into developing and putting new ideas into practice, only to see them fail and realize that more effort was required. Your team may become fatigued, especially if some of them are volunteers. When I advised them to cease working harder, they were extremely happy.

The reality? They didn’t need to put in more effort. They have to operate more shrewdly.

Growth Necessitates a Change in Attitude
Having the luxury of looking in from the outside, I was able to demonstrate to them, in particular, that their solution did not include exerting more effort. They needed to alter their viewpoint. In essence, the goal was to discover a fresh perspective on the issue rather than adding more ways to address it.

Everything basically came down to one major problem: They were no longer able to compete on either pricing or product quality because the needs of their members had changed over time, just like the rest of the world. To compete and keep their members, they needed to find another strategy.

They probably came to me in the first place because, fortunately, I already knew the response. There is really only one item that will truly allow us to stand out when it comes to attracting, engaging, and keeping members.

The Result We Produce.

The majority of us in business often concentrate on our product and service and question why it doesn’t perform as intended. People who are liked, trusted, believed in, and felt to know buy from (join, follow, and remain loyal to) them. People “purchase” things out of emotion. It all comes down to how we make people feel. And it is directly related to the experiences we design at each step.

What matters is how you WRAP what you sell, not what you sell.

This idea holds true for our associations just as it does for any other type of company.

The only query that altered how this organization approached their problem was uncomplicated.

How do you give your members an emotional experience?
The leadership team started a fresh, energizing conversation on how to personalize and modify their interactions with members. They would benefit from even small gestures like speaking to members by name during chapter meetings and telling tales of the clients they assist.

I identified the best—and really the only—tool they could use to do the task.


They had been concentrating on their story up until this moment. I informed them that their current focus will be on the member story and how to utilize it.

Everything Each Member Wants
I think that everyone wants these things when it comes to emotional connection when it comes to membership (and customer service—and employee engagement—and sales). They desire to:

Courted \sHeard
Respected \sRemembered
Instead of starting with what you’re doing wrong and how to work harder during your next strategy session. Start by inquiring the following:

Do you want to give your members an experience that makes them feel courted, heard, acknowledged, valued, and remembered at EVERY turn? Instead of developing programs, build communities.
Concentrate on telling their story. And your members will continue to visit.

Need support? Bring me in to conduct an engaging workshop where we explore the issues and discover how to use narrative to engage, connect, and produce outcomes.

Need help using story to attract and engage members into our association? Enroll in today!

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