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The Transformative concept in Member Success that is Desired Outcome

One of the most powerful concepts we’ve ever come across here at APM is the idea of the member’s Desired Outcome.

If you’re thinking “one of the most powerful concepts” seems like a pretty hefty charge, you’re right; this concept has transformational properties.

We mentioned Desired Outcome in our first Blog posted early today, and we wanted to expound on it just a bit; we told you this week that if you comprehend the concepts we write about, you’ll have much greater success with your membership growth strategies.

When we first introduced Desired Outcome, we explained that this idea came about as a simple replacement for “what does Success mean to your member? More than this, rather than letting the members stumble around and hope they get value from your product, you acquire members with success potential and then have a clear path (made up of success milestones) that you work the member through in a way congruent with the Appropriate Experience portion of their Desired Outcome.

We want our members to change, to evolve, to grow. The member you had at sign-up shouldn’t be the same member 6-months, 24-months, or 5 years later. They will evolve and their Desired Outcome will evolve, too. If we do everything right, as the member evolves, there will be logical points where member engagement (attending more events, purchasing resource add-ons, etc.) will make sense. Our purpose is ensuring their success and as they evolve they need to consume more to feed that growth.

But it’s SO MUCH MORE than that… so, let’s dig in.

Quick Refresher on Definition of Member Success

First, remember that when your members achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your organization, that is member success.

And the process used to proactively ensure your members achieve their – or to orchestrate – Desired Outcome, is what we call Member Success Management.

Desired Outcome has Two Parts, the two parts are: Required Outcome and Appropriate Experience

Desired Outcome Simplified

  • Part One: Required Outcome (RO)

Required Outcome is the thing your member needs to achieve, the thing they are trying to accomplish; helping them achieve that is ‘why’ you exist in their world.

Helping them achieve their Required Outcome is what gets you in the game. If you can’t help them achieve their Required Outcome, then you’ve already lost.

But let’s be very clear; Required Outcome is NOT the functional use of your product, resources or services. It is NOT the ‘Job to Be Done’. The Required Outcome is an outcome that matters – often deeply and even emotionally – to the member.

For bigger or more complex members, this may matter in different ways to the various personas within the membership.

Required Outcome Example: Event Promotion

The example I always like to give – because I think we can all wrap our brains around this– is when our organizations need to get more people to sign up for an event; that’s their Required Outcome.

The thing is, there are many different ways to achieve that Required Outcome.

You could print fliers about the event and hand them out on the street, you could run ads on Facebook, you could create content on the subject the event will cover and use inbound techniques to attract potential attendees to read that content and, hopefully, signup to attend the event.

But, since the staff event organizer already has a list of email addresses, for the sake of this example, they’re going to choose email marketing as a way to achieve their Required Outcome.

Now, the association in this example needs to know – and keep top of mind – that they need to get more people to attend their event.

Remember, the member believes, because of your marketing materials or what they learned from your salesperson (or both) that you can help them achieve their Required Outcome.

They also believe that you’ll help them achieve their Required Outcome in a way that is appropriate for them, which is why they chose you over your direct, analogous competitors.

Let’s explore that part…

  • Second Part: Appropriate Experience (AX)

Required Outcome – no offense to it – is really nothing without Appropriate Experience (AX).

For long-term success – yours and the members –  you need to not just help your members achieve their Required Outcome, but you need to help them do that in a way that is appropriate for them.

And yes, every member segment (for every product, resource or tool you provide as an industry association) will have a different experience that is appropriate for them.

That may give you pause as it presents a significant amount of work – that pause is fine, just don’t let it stop you… keep moving forward, it’s totally worth it!

Look, anyone can slap together some features and functionality that could help someone achieve their Required Outcome and call it a “product” (and many do!)… but if it doesn’t help your member achieve that Required Outcome in the right way – the way THEY want or need to achieve it – then you failed to deliver the appropriate experience and the member won’t see the experience as one that was successful. Even if they achieved their Required Outcome!

It may seem a bit counter-intuitive, but it happens all the time… and it’s likely already happened to you.

The perception of an Appropriate Experience is why your members join your association and not your competitors. It’s why they decided to be with you vs. your competitors or, frankly, to go with any of the other ways they could have achieved their Required Outcome.

Appropriate Experience is your differentiator; it’s why you exist. It’s why members choose you over the next best alternative.

Appropriate Experience is – BTW – just that; appropriate.

That’s why we don’t say you need to provide an Awesome, Modern, Forward-Thinking, or Rich experience… only what’s appropriate.

For instance, If you’re selling to technology startups, you might be okay launching with just an API – An application program interface is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. Basically, an API specifies how software components should interact. Additionally, APIs are used when programming graphical user interface (GUI) components.

As you move beyond early adopters, you may need to build a GUI and offer 24/7 support to provide that new cohort of members the appropriate experience.

And you may sell to both of those member segments at the same time!

But if you try to sell one the experience that works for the other, or worse if you try to normalize an experience that “works for everyone,” you’re going to end up failing to deliver the appropriate experience to some segment(s) of members.

And just to be clear; Appropriate Experience isn’t only about your membership product.

Appropriate Experience encompasses every interaction your member has with your organization; that includes your sales, marketing, thought leadership, onboarding, professional services, support, member success management, ecosystem, and yes, your products, tools, and resources.

That’s why we say, “through their interactions with your organization” in the definition of Member Success.

As we mentioned earlier, one of the really interesting things about Desired Outcome – and why it’s so powerful – is that if you only help the member achieve the Required Outcome, they may not feel successful.

That’s the opposite of what we tend to think, but it’s true.

A great example of this is when you exit a Southwest Airlines flight and complain to yourself as you walk down the jet bridge to the terminal about the horrible experience; cramped seats, no Wi-Fi, and no assigned seating so you couldn’t get any work done.

Obviously, they met my Required Outcome – get me from Point A to Point B quickly and safely – because I’m alive and able to complain, but otherwise I don’t feel like flying on Southwest was “successful.” For me. 100% of the time.

But I’m not the Ideal Customer for Southwest… the person exiting the plane behind me who is going on a vacation and was looking to save money in the process may feel like it was a great experience and wonder why I look so unhappy and mumbling swear words to myself. That person is their Ideal Member.

To bring it back to the association world, if you use a “bare-bones” app for one of your great resources that someone hacked together quickly that “gets the job done” but the user experience is pretty rough and there’s no support or documentation and you have to work hard just to figure out how to use it, do you feel successful? Do you want to continue to use it? Are you going to invest your business’ capital into introducing this product into other parts of your organization? Are you going to tell the world they should use it, too? No. No. No. And no.

So, even though you technically achieved your Required Outcome using that product, something was missing, and you want to find a different solution. That something that was missing is the Appropriate Experience.

And if you’re the association Executive or, at minimum, the membership coordinator, it’s up to you to understand the members’ Desired Outcome better than they understand it themselves and provide an experience that’s so appropriate – so on point – that they don’t even notice it.

Now, when you mix Desired Outcome with a well-designed Ideal Member Profile… you’ve got Growth Rocket Fuel!


Keep watching this page for more articles about Member Success for your organization. We’re Association Project Management, LLC – experienced especially in Membership matters for organizations like yours.

Here at Association Project Management, LLC we’ve developed a 10-statement survey that will assess how well your association is positioned to stop the membership erosion and start adding more new agencies to your ranks than you are losing through decline. If you’re interested in this self-evaluation toll, email us at We’d love to get your feedback, and help you make some positive growth changes for your membership goals!

APM helps member-based organizations & professional trade associations achieve Member Success, stabilize their member retention and guarantee membership growth through Prospect Development and Member Recruitment, as well as Member Engagement and Concierge Onboarding.

Organizations implement our programs to sustain their current revenue, reduce losses due to churn (member non-renewal) and generate new revenue by creating Raving Fans® who evangelize new members that over time becomes automatic, organic growth. “Members begetting Members”.

Association Project Management, LLC also provides a list of other project management and project completion services through a virtual staff member – a committed, trusted expert who helps to reduce costs, lower risks, improve efficiencies, meet deadlines, solve challenging problems, support strategic initiatives and produce better outcomes for your association staff.

Contact us today to see how we can help your organization excel in 2020!

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