Typically the members of your association cover a broad demographic spectrum from younger members just starting out in their career to older members who are nearing retirement. But not only that, they have different values, interests and attitudes.
Knowing your members from both a demographic and psychographic perspective can be invaluable. This information will help you target your members more precisely with products and services as well as communicate more effectively. While this knowledge might be more valuable if your members are individuals, for example, you’re an association consisting of professionals, it is still worthwhile for these trade/industry associations whose members tend to be organizations.
Let’s start with personal and professional demographics. Survey questions in this area will include age, gender, geography, number of years on the job, work setting and specialty area. Surveys often stop at these questions. I suggest that you also consider the following types of questions. What stage are they in their careers for example, are they new to the profession, mid-career, late career, nearing retirement or semi-retired? How do your members categorize themselves in terms of adopting new technology? Are they innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority or laggards?
Next consider adding questions that relate to values, opinions, attitudes, interests and lifestyles. Collectively we refer to these at psychographics. These can be developed as a series of statements that your survey participants respond to using an agree/disagree scale. These statements may relate to attitudes towards new ideas, innovation, relationships with colleagues, collaboration, professional development and learning preferences.
Analyzing the results and combining it with demographic information can help you see the clusters or segments within your total membership. This allows you to focus your attention on the needs of specific segments.
Some associations take this a step further and develop member personas. These are typically fully rendered characters that embody specific characteristics of your member sub-groups. For example, one can imagine having a profile of Nancy Networker or Victor Volunteer.
The goal is to create a standard way of categorizing and thinking about the key traits of members so that their needs, motivations and preferences can be addressed.