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Bridging the Gap Between the Association and the Members

Thursday, March 14, 2019 3:58 PM | Anonymous

Written by Amanda Kaiser, SmoothThePath.net

Amanda Kaiser is a member engagement specialist and consultant for the association community. Amanda writes a popular weekly blog at SmoothThePath.net.

Imagine that your members are on one side of a canyon. This canyon has steep walls, and a raging river with rapids is running through it (maybe even sharks). This metaphorical canyon separates your members from your association. The river represents the gap in understanding members have about the association and what the benefits we provide can do for them.

Your members have problems. Some of these problems are easy to solve; many members have had these same problems before. Other issues are new or complex or high-stakes problems. You members might not be looking for solutions thinking they have to live with the problem or they might be searching for answers. They look around their side of the canyon, they look in the water, and they look into the sky, but they cannot find a solution.

On the other side of the canyon, you have a benefit that contains the exact solution they are looking for. You are shouting across the canyon “benefit. Benefit! BENEFIT!!! Here is a great benefit.” Your members hear you yelling, but they don’t do anything.

Why? Because we have not bridged the gap of understanding between their problem and our benefit. Your members are softly whispering, “I am struggling” and we are saying to them, “try this benefit” usually without linking our benefit to their current frustration. So how do you build that bridge of understanding?

  • State the problem using their words and ideally include the emotions they feel because of the problem.
  • Reveal the solution, the outcome, and how other members felt after receiving the solution.
  • Default to short clear messaging especially for new, less engaged members.
  • Pick a warm, engaging tone that is pleasant, friendly, and maybe even uplifting.

If your goal is to improve member engagement one of the first places to start is to build the bridge of understanding for your members. Show them the link between their problem and your solution. Over and over again.


Amanda Kaiser is a member engagement specialist and consultant for the association community. Amanda writes a popular weekly blog at SmoothThePath.net.

Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives
P.O. Box 518
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054

Phone: 267-597-3818
Fax: 856-727-9504
Email: denise@neffdowning.com

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