Synthesizing the Information
The goal of synthesizing your information is to analyze the research so you can use it to create a value proposition. The following tasks will help you analyze the information you collected. Assign someone to take the lead, then have the leader share the results with your staff.
Assemble and Analyze the Facts
Step one is to assemble and analyze the facts. From your research, identify the significant findings. Key in on what members most want, what they like most about what you do (strengths), areas for improvement, things that need to change, and member feedback about the association’s value.
Take your key findings and identify the benefits that address members’ biggest needs. Member benefits can be expressed one of three ways:
- makes member feel good about belonging
- helps member sleep at night
- gives member a sense of pride that transfers over to their work with consumers
- Financial reason to be a member – i.e. dollars returned for their dues paid
Validate the Benefits
Step two is to validate the newly identified desired benefits. Dig deeper to get specific about what your members want. Let these examples guide you.
Example 1: Members rank education as the most important association activity. What specifically about education is important to them? Is it the continuing education classes? The advanced or elective classes? The delivery method? The class cost? If it’s not clear in your feedback, consider a focus group to dig deeper for the answers to those questions and others you may have.
Example 2: Members rate advocacy as an important topic to their business, but they can’t articulate why. Be sure to look closely at your organization and consider how or why advocacy is a high-value-added benefit. Your GAD may be the best person to help clarify the members’ level of understanding on this issue. Reach out to members of your target audience (brokers or young professionals, for example) and ask them a few follow-up questions via phone calls or a conference call. Even though it’s a small sampling, this will give you a clearer understanding about what you deliver today, its value to the member, and how you might improve the delivery of this information.
Example 3: Members may say that being a “transparent organization" is important to them (perhaps they want more open access to decision-making, or access to leadership.) Some exploratory questions may help you determine how you rate in this area. You may involve a cross section of members and ask them the following questions to clarify the members’ viewpoint:
- Is there a high level of communications between the board, association staff, and members?
- Are your communications effective and consistent?
- Do your communications convey transparency from the leader to the committee chair, to the staff at the front desk?
- What new collaborative networks will create better communication and openness (live and social networking, roundtables, activities hosted by leadership, web, blogs, video messages)?
- What new services, programs, or activities showcase leadership to members?
Once you identify your members’ biggest needs, you can begin to develop the key messages that make up the value proposition.
Be certain you can deliver on a benefit before you state it as a value. The value proposition can be something you aspire to become, provided there are systems in place to help you deliver the benefit long-term.