Sunday, April 6, 2014

Do you put your Association’s “bakery” up front?


The other day my wife returned from the grocery store and mentioned the power of the wonderful aroma of the bakery ... which, of course, is at the front of the store.

And, why not?

All the research (see Paco Underhill’s Why We Buy) shows that aroma is a powerful motivator. That is one reason grocers put milk at the back of the store and the bakery at the front.

This got me to thinking.

What is the association’s version of the bakery?


  • Is it a publication or blog?
  • Is it the annual convention or a series of regional meetings?
  • Is it a private discussion group or LinkedIn group?
  • Is it an impactful mission focus?
I consulted years ago with a very successful national organization (they grew their membership from around 100,000 to 300,000 in three years). Through market research, they identified 7 different benefits that appealed to members and were able to prioritize them. Using this data, the first recruitment “letter” to prospects focused only on the “top rated benefit.” The next contact talked about the 2nd rated benefit. They used seven recruitment contacts focused on each of the benefits in priority order.
That’s putting your association bakery out front.

While basic association benefits (much like bread and milk in a grocery) are within your “store,” successful recruitment means putting your version of an association bakery out front.

If you haven’t done it already, conduct research among your members and prospects.

When I assumed management of a national association years ago, I was told, “Don’t mention lobbying to the smaller members. They think it benefits just the big guys.” A couple of years later, I convinced them to spend money on research. Guess what? Lobbying was the #2 most important benefit to those “smaller members.”

If you pay attention to the aroma from your association bakery, your association will garner the sweet smell success.

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