Communicating value is a critical component to transitioning prospective members into engaged, paying members. However, based on soon-to-be-released survey results we conducted, communicating value is one of the main challenges faced by member-based organizations.

Why recommendations matter

Consider this: 83 percent of people consider the recommendations of friends and family more credible than that of advertisers, according to Nielsen. So, to effectively demonstrate the benefits and value your organization can provide to a prospective member, your information needs to come across as credible (i.e., not just a sales pitch).

Translation: When a prospective member hears about your value from an actual member, it's likely going to make a much stronger impression than hearing it from you — their story of success achieved through your organization speaks more loudly than anything you can say.

As helpful as it would be for active members to sit down with a prospective member and tell their association success story, the reality is ... that's not reality. Members are busy, and taking an active role in your recruiting process is not on high on their list of priorities. And prospective members are just as busy.

Regardless of how it's attempted, reaching prospects can be a daunting task. Which begs the question: How can an organization reach potential members and communicate value using an active member's success in a way that is perceived as credible?

The member case study

Sharing relatable examples of successes that can be attributed to membership makes a strong case for joining. Without a doubt, at least a handful of your members have specific examples of ways the organization has helped them.

The first step in crafting a member case study is to identify these members as potential case study subjects. Don't just randomly choose a member make sure their challenges resonate with others in the industry, their results aren't outside the norm, and that they are relatable and an ideal representative of your organization.

The interview

After identifying the ideal member, set up a time to visit with them and get the details of their success. Then, translate their story into a well-formatted case study.

When drafting the case study based on the member interview, be sure to include the following:

  • Details on the member (e.g., who they are, where they work, length of membership, etc.)
  • What were their challenges?
  • What were their goals?
  • Specific ways your organization helped ease their challenges and achieve their goals.
  • How you helped in the short term and continue to provide long-term benefits and results.

Specificity is key

When they're reading the case study, it's important for prospective members to recognize that becoming part of your organization can provide a solution to a particular problem. Statistics can be compelling in communicating this point.

Include, for example, that they had a 15 percent increase in web traffic or lowered their cost of operations by 5 percent through making use of your organization's benefits. Hard numbers are always more convincing than general statements like "a rise in web traffic."

Statistics are hard to argue with and can tip things in the right direction. Our survey results also indicate that competition between organizations is increasing. Therefore, providing prospects with a case study that outlines results-driven reasons to join your organization will work to your advantage by helping to differentiate you from competitors.

Case study formatting

Effective formatting of the final document is critical. In today's world of digital information, people scan information. They look for bullet points, bolded sentences and call-out quotes. Images are essential to break up the flow and make the piece more powerful.

Just like any form of promotion or advertising, your case study actually needs to be seen to be effective if prospects can't find the case study, it's useless. Be strategic and abundant in placement. It's really not possible to overdo it.

You can do it

Just like any project, a case study can seem overwhelming at first. But as the saying goes, "The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time."

Make a plan and just start. Your first attempt may not be perfect, but practice makes perfect. Communicating value through a credible source is powerful and you have the tools at your fingertips to make it happen.