We all want to be better.

Better leaders. Better team members. Better parents. Better friends. Better citizens of the world.

So we search for ways to better ourselves. We search for groups to connect with. For people who challenge us, support us, and relate to us.

And when we find a community that speaks our language and cares what we care about, we join. 

We join to be better.

It’s crucial that associations understand this, because COVID-19 has caused mass disruption in nearly every industry. 

Some things have forever changed. But some things haven’t. Like the underlying reasons that people seek connection and betterment.

If your association is spinning around in fear right now, it’s the perfect opportunity to revisit how you are talking about your value proposition. Because in a world where so many things feel out of control, you still control your value proposition.

But first . . . do you know what it is?

Most associations appeal to members and potential members by talking about everything the association offers, from publications and networking to webinars and classes. It’s an A to Z list of offerings. But very little of it suggests WHY anyone would actually engage with your organization. Very little of it puts forth messages based on deeply held causes or beliefs. Very little of it feels like a line in the sand, a rallying cry, or a shared sense of purpose. 

This is a missed opportunity, especially right now. For two reasons.

Number one: you’re not taking advantage of the chance to engage younger people. You need a strong cohort of younger members if you want your association to survive. But younger people are tricky, because while they care deeply about community and connecting with others, they also value authenticity and see through hype. They are used to free resources online, and digital engagement is their norm. So for them to commit and join your community, they need to connect with what your association is about at the gut-level.

And number two: We know that many associations thought they had it figured out in the early days of COVID-19. Engagement was extremely high, because people were seeking information and testing out the potential of Zoom connections. Everything was free and novel. And because people were scared, isolated, and eager to try new forms of connecting, they ate up A to Z offerings.

But now things are leveling off. People are Zoomed out. And yet, people still need to connect. They still desire to better themselves. Your association is still the bridge to those things. 

But you have to navigate it the correct way, with powerful outreach campaigns that distill down your value proposition, speak to younger members, and speak to our shared desire to be better.

In other words, you need to cultivate your prospect pool.

People won’t just come to you. You have to find them, nurture them, and lead them along a path that pulls them in to your cause or belief. You can’t merely talk to the same 30 percent who are already engaged and always show up. You have to widen your prospect pool, especially if you want to engage younger members. And then you have to meet them where they are, and pioneer ways to make virtual connections as meaningful as your in-person connections.

How will you help people remember what they care about and hold dear?

How will you help them connect and share?

How will you deliver content that has tangible takeaways they can implement at their jobs, so they can better their career, their company, and their industry?

These are the things your association must be focused on during this time of uncertainty.

We are helping associations navigate this new world, blending tried-and-true approaches with fresh, relevant thinking. We know how much fear there is right now, but we are helping associations find the spaces of hope and opportunity.

Because we believe that we can all be better.