Why professional associations need to be offering ongoing member value

Why professional associations need to be offering ongoing member value

Lawyer, plumber, teacher, architect, retailer, real estate agent, landscaper, hairdresser or musician? It’s likely that if you work in one of these or many other occupations, you’re a member of a professional association.

You know that they’re there for you if have a problem with your staff or clients and they’ll have lawyers available to support you. They’re also around for training and increasing the skills of your staff – well, hopefully they are. 

Then one day you realise that you want more from your association. You need more. Business could always be better and the association’s membership fee is always going up. Is this an expense you can justify? Is your professional association helping you get more customers? Of course not – they’d say that’s not their job. But is it? 

Sure they can help you save on electricity, insurance and phone plans because that’s easy. But in most cases, the association’s executives probably wouldn’t know where to start in assisting you to attract more customers.

I believe that it is the job of every association and organisation to help their members get more customers and grow their businesses. So how can they do it?

They do it by giving you the tools to engage your existing customers. By giving you the tools to engage with prospective customers. By allowing you to dynamically engage with all your customers.

Ever purchased a special deal through Groupon or Scoopon or the many other apps offering specials? Love getting a discount? Well your customers do too! Your customers want to be given ways to engage with your business that make most sense to them.

Before we connect the dots, let me remind you how you probably start each day. You look at your phone – maybe after being woken by the alarm app, then you look at an app for the weather or the news, you may check a sporting result or go to WhatsApp or another communication tool, and depending on your generation, you might also click on Instagram or Facebook.

So if that sounds familiar to you, why would your customers be any different? In fact they’re probably doing all that plus looking at shares, Twitter, LinkedIn, texts and much more. App usage is going crazy. It’s now even surpassed mobile web usage.

An app for your business is vital. Without it you are missing out on sales most likely going to your competitors. You can’t and won’t be engaging as effectively as you should with all your stakeholders.

Let me give you a few examples.

Dave decides to build a new home and can’t wait to tell his family and friends; he shares comments and photos of the foundation, frame and further stages on his Facebook. Dave’s really proud – as he should be. Dave also loves his building company. Trouble is that when Dave posts photos on his Facebook account no one but Dave knows who his builder is! Not much help to the builder. Now if Dave was sharing those photos through the building company’s app then everyone would know who his builder was, as they would be posted through their Facebook and other social media pages. What a wonderful, authentic testimonial! You may not be selling something as significant as a house but the principle is the same for any product.

 et’s take Joe from Joe’s Italian Pizza. Joe loves his app. Why wouldn’t he – he promotes his daily specials through free alerts, his order values are increasing and customers are ordering more frequently due to the ease of app orders. 

Recently I spoke with a particular association experiencing high membership churn. Interestingly they didn’t seem to know why. When I spoke to them about offering each of their customers a branded mobile app, they were struggling to see how they fit in. I was struggling to see how they didn’t! Simply, they could offer each member a branded mobile app at a special price as part of the value they delivered to members. It was a great benefit to members who would have found a cost-effective way to start generating more business. How valuable would that be for the members and the association! 

My final example is a large organisation that has several parts to its business customer offering. It does deliveries, payments and is trying to be in the digital space. Imagine if it offered its business customers a branded mobile app that took payments and arranged all order deliveries for them? Sounds pretty straight forward and obvious, right?

Recently this organisation had a major problem when its business customers couldn’t use their payment services for a significant period. I’m sure their apology went some way in soothing irate customers for the transaction’s downtime. How much more effectively could they have restored the customers’ goodwill if they’d offered a specially priced branded app to customers? And as an app is not dependent on an internet connection to work, it offers more reliability.

If you are an association with many members running businesses, think about offering them special benefits that will make a real difference to them. If you are a member of a professional association, challenge them to find new ways of adding value to you as a member business. Win win.

Dennis Benjamin is the founder and chief executive of mobile apps specialists AppsWiz and the Informatel Group. He is an expert in the areas of mobile trends, mobile apps, apps for businesses, entrepreneurship, and startups.

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