Every year brings challenges for associations and my challenge for you is to reflect on whether in your research with members, you are asking the best questions you can.
I began my career in market research, so this a something that I have always been very interested in.
It seems one of the most popular questions associations ask members to find out how they are doing is the satisfaction question – “On a scale of 1 to 5 how satisfied are you with…” However some research has shown this to be a very poor predictor of retention. So is it time to change the question? What should or could we be asking?
Here are some alternatives for you to consider, discuss and test:
- “On a scale of 1 to 5 how valuable is…”
- “What outcomes are you most interested in achieving by belonging to the association? _______ On a scale of 1 to 5, is this happening?”
- “What would make membership/makes membership a “must have?”
- “What is the biggest advantage of being a member?”
- “How would you rate the investment you make in your membership relative to the value you receive?”
Ask about outcomes, rather than your outputs. The value of membership will start to become clearer when you pay attention to what members want to become.
You might also want to talk to other people. If the inventor of the motor car, Henry Ford, had asked his potential customers what new forms of transport they would like to see developed, they would probably have said a faster horse! Interview thought leaders, and people who focus on future developments, to bring their ideas into your research findings.
You might also want to use group or one-to-one projection techniques to help some of the deeper issues to surface. This can add valuable insights into your membership survey findings.
There is a little book about selling called ‘Questions are the Answers’ – and that title really resonates with me.
So ask more revealing questions. Think very carefully about what you ask and what the answer will tell you.