Member Value Prop 3

8 ways to check whether your Member Value Proposition is fit-for-purpose

2017's Digital Excellence Research Report highlights a worrying trend: less than 4 in 10 associations believe that member value has increased over the past year. This is despite rises in member engagement and increased member levels.

Why is it worrying? Value is right at the heart of sustainable success for membership organisations. If members don’t perceive, feel, understand, and get excited about the value your organisation brings then they’ll be less likely to join, renew or upgrade.

Here are 8 ways you can check whether your current Member Value Proposition (MVP) is fit-for-purpose. You can download the checklist to do a quick self-assessment.

1. It helps members fulfil the jobs that are most important to them

The process of value proposition design starts with stepping into the shoes of your members. Forget (just for a while!) about your offering and think instead about the jobs that members are trying to get done. As value proposition guru, Alex Osterwalder, points out: you need to think about not only functional jobs (e.g. get certified) but also the emotional and social jobs your members want to achieve (e.g. career progression, build their network).

Once you’ve got an idea of the jobs that matter most to your members, you can check whether your offering is helping them to achieve some of the most important ones. If it isn’t, you may need to rethink!

2. It relieves pain points that frustrate your members

Getting jobs done isn’t always straightforward. Think about the challenges and frustrations your members experience in trying to go about their day. If you could help them with some of these pain points, you could make a real difference. Again, take a look at your MVP and ask some straight questions about whether it helps to relieve some of your members’ biggest frustrations.

This is also a chance to think about the potential barriers to engaging with membership, such as cost or lack of time. Understanding what stops members joining or renewing is valuable input to refreshing and updating your offering.

3. It creates gains that your members really want/desire

As well as thinking about jobs and pains, Osterwalder also reminds us to think about the gains customers want when we’re stepping into their shoes. What is it that your members really want/ desire? Perhaps its industry acknowledgement, new skills or winning a competition. Thinking about how your members measure success, personally and/or professionally, can help you ensure that you’re thinking along the same lines.

Take another look at your offering and this time have a think about how the various features and benefits create gains your members’ really want.  

The first 3 steps are really core to reviewing your MVP in the light of value. You can get started straight away by chatting with some members to find out about their jobs, pains and gains - and planning in more formal research such as surveys and interviews to validate these initial ideas and insights.

4. It doesn’t try to meet every job, pain or gain

The best value propositions do a few things really, really well. There are some jobs it won’t be realistic for you to meet, as well as pains and gains that you simply can’t help with. The key is to ensure that you’re targeting a small number of important wants and needs, and doing it better than anyone else!

5. You’re talking the language of your members

The language you use to talk about the value you bring to members matters. Stepping into the shoes of your members, especially when its informed and validated by research, will enable the organisation to really talk in their language. It sounds simple, but inside an organisation it is all too easy to end up talking in an “internal speak” that relates to products, processes and departments. Adopting terms and turns of phrase that members recognise and use helps communicate the value you can bring them more intuitively.

6. There’s internal alignment about how your organisation creates value

There can an array of different ideas around the organisation about what the MVP is: from the board, to marketing, to the events team, views can vary on how you add value for members. This can cause a number of issues including working at cross-purposes on member initiatives and misalignment in messaging that goes out to members.

Bringing stakeholders together to work on the member value proposition provides an opportunity to cut through differences and assumptions and build a really cohesive understanding of what members are trying to achieve, the issues they face, and the outcomes they desire. Having a pan-organisational group engage together in this kind of “outside in” thinking will mean that the resulting value proposition should have buy-in and excitement from all stakeholders.

7. Benefits are quantified wherever possible

Earlier we thought about how your members or potential members measure success. Aligning with those measures, as far as possible, in how you describe the value your organisation brings helps them “get” why joining or renewing is a good idea. The most compelling value propositions demonstrate quantifiable benefits such as saving money, increasing productivity, or faster career progression.

8. Bring the value to life for members

Even when you’ve crafted a compelling MVP that meets member needs/wants and speaks their language, your job is not quite done. The work done on the value proposition needs to be communicated internally and externally in ways that bring it to life for employees and members. Real-life testimonials, success stories, interviews and examples can all help to get people excited about joining and staying with your organisation for the long term.

Value proposition design is a dynamic process and the MVP needs constant attention and work, so make sure that you appoint someone to own and drive value within the organisation. Part of their role will be to make sure that the MVP is regularly reviewed and refreshed. This can be especially hard to do when things are going really well, but getting this process working can make sure that complacency doesn’t set in and you stay ahead of competition with a fresh and relevant offering.

 Download the checklist to give your membership value proposition a quick health check, and book an informal chat with Research by Design to find out how we can help with customer insight and the value proposition design process.


ITSMA (2012) Six Steps to Crafting Effective Value Propositions

Liozu, S. (2015) Building a Distinctive and Compelling Value Proposition

Osterwalder, Al et al. (2014) Value Proposition Design

Research by Design (2017) 4 ways a value proposition can drive success for membership organisations

This entry was posted in Membership, Member Value Proposition, tagged Membership, Qualitative, Member benefits, Market Research and posted on January 23, 2018

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