Are your members choosing competitor resources that are “good enough”?

Written by Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE

(Image by Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE)

Think about the best home-cooked meal you’ve ever had. It was probably made by someone who cares about you—a parent, a grandparent, or a partner. Maybe they took the time to handpick the freshest ingredients and to assemble multiple dishes by scratch. They probably dedicated hours to cooking each part to perfection, and about two hours after you arrived, you were able to enjoy one of the most delicious meals you ever had. You undoubtedly valued and appreciated all of the thought, care, and time that went into crafting that perfect meal. The quality and experience surpass any you could have at most restaurants.

But would you wait until 8 pm every night for this type of exceptional experience?

Most of us would have to admit “no.” Assuming you get off work around 5 or 6 pm, you probably don’t want to come home after a long day of work and then wait two to three hours for dinner. You may appreciate those nights when you can enjoy a delicious, home-cooked meal that took hours to create, but sometimes, a frozen dinner is good enough.
That’s how some members and many of your prospects view your association’s high-quality offerings.

Your members may value the reliable, trustworthy resources your association creates, but “high quality” may not be the primary driver in their choice of resource. For many busy professionals, ease of use, cost and accessibility are the primary drivers, and your thorough, extensive resources may not fit easily into their day.

In other words, during or after a long workday, your members are probably going to choose the easy to use resource (the frozen meal that’s ready in minutes and good enough) over your high-quality, pages-long resource (the delicious home-cooked meal that takes two hours to make).

How can associations balance high quality with ease of use? One suggestion is to create derivatives of your detailed resources. For example, generate one-page summaries, a list of commonly asked questions with answers or a section highlighting new research or recent changes. These derivatives make it easier for members to brush up on a topic, answer questions or learn the newest information in a limited amount of time.

Another suggestion is to make it easier for members to quickly find the resource they need. Invest in powerful search and filtering capabilities on your website or mobile app and consider creating a “decision tree” tool that guides members to the resource that best fits their needs.

Your association may offer the best resources for your audience, but if those resources aren’t easy to find and to use in the course of their busy day, your audience will find an alternative that is good enough.


For more insights on traversing the “last mile” between your association’s offerings and your members’ needs, read Sheri’s new book, Pivot Point: Reshaping Your Business When It Matters Most. The total net proceeds for every book sold is donated to the ASAE Foundation. ASAE member and quantity-purchase discounts are available.

Posted on September 6, 2018