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[GUEST BLOG] 2 Reasons People Join and What it Tells You About Members

by Frank Kenny

2 Reasons People Join and What it Tells You About Your Members

Have you ever thought about the different reasons people join your chamber or association?

It often comes down to two big things.

Some people want to get something FROM your organization, while some people want to get something done THROUGH your organization.

Those who join to get something FROM your chamber or association probably want at least one of the following returns on investment (ROI) to:

  1. Meet people in the chamber or industry.
  2. Create awareness for themselves or their business.
  3. Build goodwill in the community/target market through sponsorships.
  4. Jump start their business through a ribbon cutting, groundbreaking, cash mob, or other single event.
  5. Attain status. Being a member conveys status in the community.
  6. Show support in front of government/agencies/elected officials.
  7. Gain leads, clients, calls, and/or website visitors.
  8. Receive business training for themselves and their team.

Those who want to get something done THROUGH your chamber or association are focused more on solving big picture problems rather than immediate ROI. They may want:

  1. Business-friendly laws and regulations.
  2. Workforce development programs.
  3. Affordable housing solutions.
  4. Transportation improvements.
  5. Basic infrastructure improvements such as internet, water, and electricity.
  6. Community safety/safe street programs.
  7. Diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.
  8. Health insurance or wellness programs.

Now, what do you do with this info?

First, understand the THROUGH members will invest in your chamber or association at much higher levels, ten or even a hundred times higher than what the FROM members do.

Second, the FROM folks are much more demanding of the organization’s staff time. The THROUGH folks just want to know their money is being well spent, as evidenced by progress toward the goal/desired outcome being made.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of the New-Member Onboarding Process»

Third, you should ascend (move, upsell) members as quickly as possible from the FROM group to the THROUGH group. It takes marketing and sales strategies to shift the member’s desire away from FROM to THROUGH. But once you do, you have a much more valuable member who will stick with your organization for years or even decades.

A Final Thought

If your organization is on the fair share model where dues are based on number of employees, rather than the desires of the member, you won’t be as effective in ascending people or keeping your members satisfied, as written in a previous article, Membership Dues: Fair Share is Grossly Unfair.

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Frank Kenny is an internationally recognized author, professional speaker, and consultant. He is the founder of the Chamber Focus Show and the Chamber Professionals Community Group on Facebook.

Over the past 10 years, Frank has helped hundreds of chambers reach their goals with staff and member training, strategic planning, board retreats and orientations, social media, digital marketing, technology, and more.

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