In the past it was not difficult for someone to decide which association to join because there probably was only one organisation that covered a particular area of interest. But that has all changed. We are surrounded by more and more choice and the competition for our attention, time and money will only get worse.
There are thousands of membership organisations for an individual or organisation to consider joining. But the competition does not stop there. People have other options available to them getting access to what people join associations for. Your competition could include publishers, educational institutions, independent training providers and even individual members. The Internet has also generated a number of tools that make it easy for people to connect and share information and anyone can facilitate this.
So what can an association do to protect itself from the competition? The answer is to consider adopting a specific marketing strategy called positioning. Positioning involves differentiating your organisation from what your competitors are offering in the mind of the prospective member.
Here are some examples of positioning that you will probably be able to associate with. What car manufacturer would you recommend to a friend who has three young children and is most concerned about their ‘safety’? What brand of radio battery comes to mind if you were looking for ‘long life’? What brand of soap do you associate with ‘dry skin’? The answers are Volvo, Duracell and Dove who use safety, long life and moisturising as their positioning in the marketplace. Each will have very little competition for customers looking for that particular benefit.
In my mind, I would position:
Once you have implemented a positioning strategy, you will be well placed to survive for many years to come because it will give you a clear direction, purpose and focus. It will also help you recruit and retain members.