Bear Analytics would like to thank Amanda Kaiser for being a guest blogger for us. Amanda is the owner of Kaiser Insights LLC and author of She helps associations and member organizations grow membership. She also assists in member engagement and non-dues revenue through member research.

Here is part 1 of a two part series that Amanda has written for Bear Smarts Blog:

With a sense of dread I listened to the committee call devolve to the inevitable survey-ask question. Every committee I’ve ever joined wants to field a survey no matter their goals. Maybe committee members acknowledge that even though they were picked for the committee their opinions may not represent the membership at large. Many also take the responsibility seriously and don’t want to steer the organization in the wrong direction so they recommend a survey.

I understand this because as a marketer I have a never-ending list of questions I want to ask members but surveys are generally not the way I get those answers. If we are going to ask for our member’s valuable time and use our own time we should be getting the best possible, most actionable results. To get those great results you have to have start with a great goal.

Start with a worthy goal

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”     – Tony Robbins

Your research goal will define everything, from the types of questions you ask, to who you recruit, to how you go about getting answers. Think very carefully about what you want to find out.

Are you looking for big, earth shaking change?

Are you looking for a smaller incremental move?

What will you do with the results?

Some organizations even hypothesize a few scenarios. If members say “a” we will do “z” if members say “b” we will do “x”. In addition, make your goal specific. Having 23 research goals is unachievable. Stick to a couple of priorities. Finally, evaluate your goals. Are the answers really worth the time and effort?

Your goal dictates how you get the data

Too often we assume member research has to be a survey. Surveys are easy and cheap. But surveys also have an extreme bias for delivering inaccurate results, the cost of which can be steep. Have you ever taken a survey when you picked sort of the right answer but not the answer you would have given if you had the choice? This happens all the time. Members pick the best answer but not their answer.

Survey results also tend not to be all that actionable. When you find that member satisfaction is a 3 out of a possible high score of 5, what do you do with that? Survey some more. Survey results are very surface. They don’t tell you how best to solve a problem. Surveys by far are the most commonly used form of research methodology but quite often are not the best or even in the long run the most cost effective.

Make the most of your member’s time and yours, by spending effort up front to determine your research goals. Let your research goals dictate methodology, what questions you ask and how you interpret the answers. When you develop great goals and use those goals to guide the data finding process you will end up with amazing member insights.

Many associations are marketing in a way that doesn’t resonate with members but a very few have figured out how to create marketing that matters. Find out about modern member marketing on where Amanda Kaiser also discusses story telling for members, innovation and member insights. Follow her on Twitter at @SmoothThePath


Photo By: Clarita