“We’ve been defining (member) engagement by what we value, not by what members value. We perform member satisfaction surveys that basically ask one question: “What do you think of us?” What we should be asking is: “What do you need to be successful? What are you trying to accomplish, and how can we help you get there?”
“Our associations have been constructed to have an inside-out perspective: We produce the programs, products, and services that we think our members and other audiences need—memberships, conferences, professional development, publications, industry research, certification or accreditation programs, exhibit space—and then we try to sell them those things. If people keep renewing and buying more stuff, that means they’re engaged.
“For a long time, that’s mostly worked pretty well for us. Unfortunately, while we’ve been busily building and marketing the programs, products, and services we think our audiences might like, the world has changed. In 2015, customers are looking for more than a transaction; they’re looking for custom solutions that can be constructed only through authentic relationships of the type, duration, and intensity they—not you—want.”