Diverse industries across all economic segments are finding themselves on parallel tracks right now. That’s why when one segment spends the time and money to do a survey to get at the bottom of their struggles, it just makes sense to see how it applies to your own challenges. And, wow, this one nails the pain sources associations are feeling as they emerge from the pandemic.

Home Accents Today just published research on shifting customer loyalty in the retail space. “Where did the customers I could count on go?” asks many CEOs of stores large and small. Likewise, trade associations are alarmed at the drop in longtime members even though events may be back from our health hiatus. The publication’s survey came in with three primary reasons loyal consumers said they were not coming back:

  1. 44% cited inadequate stock. I equate this to associations not roaring back soon enough with an appealing event and education schedule. Just like expected store merchandise, members join for the value of networking and knowledge. It’s long past time to invigorate the event schedule members joined for in the first place. To get things started, it’s easy to have a no-host cocktail hour at local pubs.
  2. 31% cited a lack of customized communication. If the database shows a customer buys Clinique cosmetics, it’s easy to segment the marketing message to send an invitation for a 2-day Clinique sale to get that person back in the store. Association boards are terrible about talking to their individual membership. A phone bank is only instigated when members are lost. How about calling the ones who kept paying dues?
  3. 41% of shoppers cite insufficient staffing of stores. Again, the cry is to be recognized. I’ve written before about the duties of directors on nonprofit boards. Depending on the size of the trade group or charity, it can approach being a full-time job. However, the volunteer status of directors makes it easy to put it behind your “day job” and family. Rightly so. But if you’re having a hard time getting a quorum for board meetings, it’s the association’s version of insufficient staffing – leadership.

It’s not too late! Yes, it takes work. Let’s crank up membership services and deliver on the promise of attention and value.

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