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Research: How to Identify Member Needs

Collecting member data can be accomplished in a number of different ways. The decision depends on what you need to know; where the information resides; resources and time available; complexity of the data to be collected; and if you want to repeat the process in the future to measure change.

Surveys can help you gather information to determine your value proposition. Your members’ opinions and views will guide your future planning and messaging to build appreciation for the value your association brings to members.

Focus groups can extract in-depth attitudes, beliefs, and anecdotal data from a group, and may generate more ideas than individual interviews. Disadvantages include the requirement to have a trained facilitator, the time to set up and facilitate a focus group, and transcribing the discussion into a usable format.

A personal or telephone interview is an excellent tool if you want detailed responses, experiences, opinions, or descriptions. It allows you to probe and ask more questions. Disadvantages include the time involved in sampling the target respondents and reporting information in a meaningful way.

As you begin your research efforts, keep the following in mind:

  • Develop a timeframe during which to conduct and complete the research (beginning, completion, drafts
  • Determine participant incentives (drawings, free giveaways, etc.)
  • Develop pre-inquiry communications (explain why you are doing the research and any participant incentives)

Next: Conducting a Survey