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When defining the value proposition, local associations need to identify their target audiences. Who are you looking to attract through your programs, products, and services? Brokers should be a target audience since they have the power to increase or decrease membership.

This target audience/member piece in your association’s overall value proposition allows you to tap the REALTOR® community for input and feedback on what your association does well and where it needs improvement. It will open the door to a dialogue with members that can lead to systematic communications that are read and used by all facets of the membership.

When you follow the steps outlined in this section, you will start building a trusted relationship between your association and your key audiences. You will become their first point of contact on all things real estate related. The key is to seek their input; listen to what they have to say; deliver what they want.

Audience Outreach

To create a method for gathering information from your target audiences and then build a systematic method of outreach and communication, follow these steps:

  1. Identify who will gather information: AE/staff or volunteer leaders.
  2. Develop a set of standard outreach questions.
  3. Develop a system to ensure follow-through with volunteer partners. This should include sending monthly reports to the BOD; identifying where audience needs can be met; noting any budget impact(s) and adjusting the budget accordingly (with proper approval); and providing a timeline to launch future programs, products, or services.
  4. Develop a follow-up plan of critical dates that includes face-to-face meetings and communication to ensure that requests are fulfilled and thank yous are sent.
  5. Note what will change the next time. Always have a plan in place for how to improve things, whether it’s your next phone call or your next meeting with key players. Always think of how you can do it better or ask a different question to elicit what members want and need.

Make Contact

It’s critical to select the right communications vehicle through which to contact your key audiences. Select the right medium for the right person; never assume one size fits all. Do some prefer email? Do others prefer face-to-face conversations? Do some gravitate toward social media, such as Facebook?

To find out, ask them; it’s that simple. Reach out to your key audiences via focus groups and ask them how they prefer to receive your communications, and how they prefer to receive the association’s communications (i.e. updates, membership renewal notices, etc.).

Based on those responses, choose any of the following tools to interact with your audiences:

  • Face-to-face
  • Email
  • Text
  • Telephone
  • Social media
  • Online chat rooms
  • Skype

Ask the Right Questions

Now that you know who you want to communicate with and how you want to communicate, you need to ask the right questions so you gain the right data to move your association forward. Sample survey questions are available in the survey section of this toolkit. Your questions will vary depending upon the responses you want to elicit.

Remember to keep your questions short. If you want to know what association services your target audiences find most valuable, just ask. If you want to know what services they may pay extra for, just ask. Stay focused. Remember, less is more.

Try and incorporate your value proposition into the questions you ask. This is easy to do and it reinforces your value. For example, you can highlight one of your association’s strongest services in a question about future services. When you pull existing strengths into your outreach tools you’ll reinforce the association’s value even more.

Don’t be afraid to use your key audiences as a test market for the next new service (provided they’ve identified a need for that next new service). While you don’t want to over-use your key audiences, when something necessitates their expertise, don’t be afraid to ask for it and let them know only their expertise will do in this particular matter.

Next: Research: How to Identify Member Needs