Putting yourself into the position of your members can be hard. But the goal of every association (and association professional) is to understand what their members really want and to give it to them. Your members are the ones that bring the life, the drive, and the mission to your association (and not to mention, the membership dues). So, it’s understandable that you want to make them happy. But how do you get started in understanding what members really want? Getting to know member needs We always promote clear and direct communication with members. So, if you want to know what they want, we encourage you to ask them! You can do this a few ways: Member surveys Member interviews Asking for input on your member application form Posting a poll in your member community Reading member forum posts and following what they talk about Surveys really are a popular choice here because you can send them out to all your members at once. If you want to learn more about building a member needs assessment, check out our complete guide. The 5 basic categories of member needs The basics of member needs, really, will come down to these 5 categories. 1. Information First and foremost, your members want information from your association. What type of information? Well, it could be: Industry trends Law and regulation updates Best practices for their jobs How-To information Personal growth tips The specific details of these really depend on what your association is and what industry you work within. These are the details you can figure out in a needs assessment survey. But the basic reason people join associations is to learn something new and grow. While you’re figuring out those details, be honest at how easy you are making it for your members to find this information. You can share info with them via your: Website Newsletter Online community Social media channels How easy is it for your members to find, access and use your information channels? This is a wonderful place to start to ensure that you’re actually meeting members’ needs. 2. Support Your members look to you as a support system. Whether they’re trying to advance professionally or personally, they want to know that they can turn to you for help. Being available to provide that support is where you could be lacking. Make sure you’re available to your members both in person and online. Be clear in how they can communicate with you and your team (email, phone number, contact hours, etc.) Let them know that their goals matter to you, and more importantly, that you’re there to help them succeed. 3. A great experience Regardless of your organization’s mission or size, an excellent experience (from customer service to event experience and general interaction with your organization) is crucial. In fact, some of the best associations out there are the ones that practice and provide good customer service. S8o listen to your members. Be empathetic. Be welcoming. And be personable! It’s these types of qualities that will work wonders when it comes to building relationships and improving membership recruitment and retention. 4. Convenience Your association should make your members’ lives easier – definitely not the opposite. The information and support we talked about earlier? Those should be easily accessible. All of the information, support and experiences you build for your members should be easy to find and use. Review your website, online community, social pages, etc. to be easy to read, find and use. 5. Value Above all, your members want value from your association. They want to know that they’re getting something valuable in return for their membership dues. Now keep in mind that value comes in different forms for different people. For some, it’s the members-only content on your association’s website. For others, it’s the exclusive networking opportunities. Be mindful of what your members find valuable and tailor your offerings accordingly. (And if you have no idea what your members find valuable, survey them! We assure you they’ll be happy to share.) Changing your organization to meet member needs Did any of these points make you think of how you could be doing a better job at meeting member needs? If so, don’t worry! There’s nothing wrong with identifying areas you could improve. But that’s the key next step: Take those points and actively work to improve how you connect and share your value to your members. Some ways to do this could be: Updating or kickstarting a member newsletter Changing your event type or cadence Running more learning-focused events, or events targeted at what your members want Auditing your website and changing the layout Creating more info-based pages with tips, tricks and how-to's Setting up an info email or member-facing phone number Launching an online community to connect with members more Member needs: Don't be intimidated. Be excited! Member needs are a really big topic, but don’t let that intimidate you. Ask your members what they want, remember the 5 main buckets and be realistic with yourself and your association with how you can improve to meet them. Once you get a grasp on what they are and how to meet them, get excited about all the amazing things you can do to improve your members’ lives!