Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The 11 Ws of Buyer Persona for Associations

Guest Post by Jim Schnurbusch

There may be a no more talked about topic today in the Association world than “buyer persona”. This topic may be topping the charts of conversation as Associations continue to recruit, and retain, membership. Of course, understanding what your “buyers” want and understanding their behaviors as they relate to your Association and alternative resources are the keys to success.

As you contemplate your Association’s “buyer persona”, consider gaining insights about them using the follow 11 “Ws” – of course, the first five are of the “duh” variety but important nonetheless – the others push you past the obvious to really gain a more intimate view of your members and prospective members’ attitudes, awareness, understanding, behaviors – needs – from an Association like yours.
  1. Who – demographics, firmagraphics, titlegraphics, geographics, genegraphics will help your Association create a profile of your member, and prospective members;
  2. What – beyond who they are, what do they do? What are their responsibilities? Who do they interface with most often? Another important “what” to answer: what products, services, resources of your Association do they find most important and use most often? What Association-provided resources are hardly being accessed? A deeper understanding of “what” will make your Association more effective and relevant – and make your staff more efficient;
  3. When – knowing when your members and prospective members most think, most need the resources of your Association and access to their peers helps create focus in your marketing efforts to recruit them, and retain them;
  4. Where – a deeper relationship with members and prospects will reveal where they want, and expect, your Association to be present as a resource to them. You may think your bi-monthly member magazine is where your presence needs to be; members and prospects may tell you otherwise. Ask them where their Association should be present to best meet their needs;
  5. Why – do you know why your members are willing to share their professional journey with your Association? Why is your association being given the privilege of their time and maybe money? 
Okay, those were the five “Ws” you were expecting – albeit defined a little differently than usual. the next six “Ws” will make the first five even more meaningful for your Association’s future growth and relevancy.

6.     Wander – be sure to ask members and prospects what other Associations, organizations         and resources they “wander off” with to get insights and tools your Association can 
        provide, or, should provide;
7.     Will – get a sense of the “will” of your members – professional, personal, both? But
        understand what their deeper purpose is with their membership or prospective
        membership with your Association;
8.     Wonder – don’t confuse with number six – this one is about the “speculative, imaginative,
        forward-thinking” solutions and resources your members and prospective members need 
        from your Association;
9.     Wade – in member and prospect members’ worlds by periodically shadowing some of
        your members, or “types” of members or prospects and learn what they really face rather 
        than what you think they face. These insights will help make your Association far more 
        important and relevant;10. Walls – knowing what “walls” or obstacles members and 
        prospective members face that prevent them from achieving the kind of results they desire 
        will be enlightening to your Association and help it prioritize what resources it offers and 
        identify those that it doesn’t;
11.  WOW! – asking your members and prospects what your Association could do, offer or
       provide that would “wow” them, in addition to the insights gained from 1 through 10 helps 
       assure your Association’s success at being the type of Association and resource they 

Jim Schnurbusch is the Founder + Chief StoryCrafter of OrgStory LLC, a consultancy that partners with Associations and other nonprofits to help them discover, define, develop and deliver the right stories for the right audiences that result in the right outcomes – including WOW!

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