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Who’s your Ideal Member?

Memberships Matter – Make the most of Your Membership Program.

Over the last many months, APM® has helped many organizations from around the country rapidly accelerate member acquisition and reduce member churn rates.

And in just about every instance We’ve found ourselves asking them the same questions.

The fact that these questions were not easily answered or – if they were – that the answers were ignored, often shed light on the underlying cause of several different problems our association and organization clients faced.

From stagnating growth to unacceptable churn, it became clear to us that most similar organizations have a problem.

And this problem isn’t a small one nor is it to be ignored.

To the contrary, it is resulting in executives – just like you – going back to their Leadership and Board with less-than-stellar results, and for Members, clients and CEOs of these organizations who know they have the best products and resources out there constantly struggling to survive healthily for the lack of new members or the challenge of super-high churn rates.

And for the Membership and Marketing teams who have implemented fantastic member marketing campaigns that are consistent and focused but not resulting in statistically significant member or client lift, the crisis is mounting.

What is going on here?!

Simple… you’re attracting the wrong audience and here’s why.

Attracting Your Ideal Member Is not an Accomplished by Accident

We know that attracting the right members is critical to growing your organization, and this includes reducing your churn rate.

The reality is, you’re not attracting your Ideal Members, at least in the numbers you’d like, because you either haven’t identified your Ideal Members or you have but choose to ignore that fact and continue trying to be all things to everyone so you “don’t miss any opportunities.”

But you also know that’s wrong and goes against everything we know to be true in marketing, correct?

So, to ensure that you’re attracting the right members, take some time with your team and answer these questions.

  1. Who’s your ideal member?
  2. Would they know they’re your ideal member if they looked at your marketing site?
  3. Of your current member base, what percentage does your ideal member represent?

Question #3 is a super-interesting metric that few associations actually monitor (but should).

In fact, when we go through this exercise with an association that is struggling to achieve the results they’re looking for, the answer is generally less than 10%, indicating that 90% of their member base is made up of members outside the “ideal” spectrum.

Look… when you don’t know who your ideal member is, you can’t talk to them using their language.

Whether on your marketing site, your ad campaigns, inside your app, through your email follow-up, or even your membership conversations, if you don’t know who you’re talking to you’re in trouble.

When you don’t know who your ideal member is – or aren’t willing to focus on just them to, you know, avoid missing all those other opportunities – you can’t speak the language of that particular audience.

We can agree that HR Pros use different words than Chefs, who use different words than Attorneys and so on, right?

When you try to speak to everyone, you can’t use the words of just one segment of the membership types you are trying to attract. Instead, you have to drop to the lowest common denominator among every potential member and speak to them in their language, otherwise, you aren’t saying anything of value to anyone!


People don’t buy from you because they understand what you do… they buy from you because you understand what they do.

Because most SaaS companies don’t see themselves as “services” and instead hold on tightly to their technology pedigree, you often won’t stop at “lowest common denominator” language…

The mistake that many organizations make when courting potential clients or members is that they forget what they are about, what their mission is, their value proposition is -their “Why”, or the reason they exist.

Most membership pitches stop talking about the member at all and instead focus 100% on the organization’s products, features, technology and all the other stuff that doesn’t matter when they’re trying to connect with their potential members.

And as you move your ‘Business Development’ (which is what you’re doing by adding new members) to extend your marketing/sales funnel, knowing who you’re attracting will help you create an experience congruent with their Desired Outcome.

It’s fairly easy for us to spot when an association hasn’t identified (or chooses to ignore) their ideal member before we ever talk to them because their marketing is all about their product.

This means we’re not surprised when we talk to those same organizations and hear that their membership is stagnating, their churn is high, etc.

Just because you draw a line in the sand and actively try to resonate with your ideal members, doesn’t mean you won’t get members from outside that ideal spectrum… it just means you’ll definitely get members within that spectrum – predictably – which is probably different than what you’re experiencing now.


“Memberships are the most important asset in our industry today.  Are you making the most of your membership program? Is it growing your organization? Are you putting enough resources into growing your member base? Do you have a targeted plan for Recruiting, Engaging, and Retaining your members? We can help.” – Andrew McElhannon, CEO – Association Project Management, LLC®.

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 APM’s® 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. Visit them today at

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