Sunday, June 23, 2013

Purposefully designing association culture

Do you want members to linger or churn?  You decide.

We were out and about the other day.

The retail store where we were shopping had the temperature set at 75 degrees. Clearly, they wanted us to browse and linger.

The restaurant where we had lunch had the temperature set at about 70-71 degrees. Clearly, they wanted us to eat quickly since turnover or “churn” is important to them.

Clearly, both entities set the temperature by design to achieve their objectives: linger or churn.

As I think about different associations I’ve been around over the last 30+ years, I realize that each has a culture that defines whether they want members and prospects to linger or to churn.

The big question: is that culture intentional or accidental.


Your association can create and maintain products and services designed to engage members and get them to linger. Or, it can provide services and products designed for churn.

To me, some associations invite me to linger. Examples include:
  • Emphasis on two-way communications
  • Focus on engagement
  • Open doors
  • Informal and approachable
  • Website provides numbers and emails in a “who to call” format
  • Interactive meetings and conferences
Meanwhile, other associations seem to want me to churn. Examples include:
  • Nearly all one-way communications
  • No contact info (person, phone, email) on the website
  • Closed doors
  • Bureaucratic organization (noticed quickly when you call for help)
  • Staff and/or volunteer leaders appear stand-offish or untouchable or cliquish
  • Formal conferences with speakers with limited interaction
Success usually comes from purposely designing association culture to achieve your objectives. 
What are you doing and why?

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