I think the #1 reason for joining the REALTOR® association is you are supporting an organization that helps protect your profession and livelihood. We would have numerous restraints on our business if it wasn’t for the efforts of our state and national associations. That alone is worth the $500 I pay a year for membership (I also pay another $200-$500 a year to the REALTOR® Political Action Committee). A REALTOR® is also held to a higher standard than your typical agent. We have all had dealings with shady agents who believe it is all about themselves and not the client. If you want more reasons, check with your local or state REALTOR® association. They can give you numerous more reasons to join.
— Posted on Trulia in response to a forum question: Do I have to join the REALTOR® association
If you’ve gone on a broker office visit and chatted with a roomful of young real estate agents about all the association does for them (for their businesses, for homebuyers and homesellers, and for the community), you can practically hear their collective “Oh, now I get it!”
So why is it so difficult for some members to understand the value of REALTOR® membership? Either you’re not offering programs, products, and services of value to your members (unlikely) or you’re not effectively communicating their value in a way that resonates with members.
The journey is as important as the destination
Uncovering what members think about your association’s value is the first step in crafting a member-centric way to express why they should be members. This is what’s called a value proposition. It’s a promise to members detailing how the benefits they receive in exchange for their dues investment will enhance their businesses, careers, community, and industry.
A value proposition is the member’s rationale for choosing your association over another or none at all, says Melynn Sight, a consultant who has helped many associations develop value propositions.
“The process of developing a value proposition forces you to evaluate your services and communications with members from the members’ point of view,” says Sight. “This is a significant shift for many organizations and one that can create meaningful dialogue about current and new-member services.”
Gaining a deeper appreciation for the members’ experience is the goal behind the National Association of REALTORS®’ “Day in the Life of a REALTOR®” program that aims to enhance and create services that are more relevant to members.
“It’s the outside-in perspective,” says Sight. “A value proposition articulates what members need most and links those concerns to relevant products and service offerings that the association delivers.”
As opposed to a strategic plan (which details your organization’s goals and how it will allocate resources to achieve them) or a mission statement (which describes the core purpose of your association), a value proposition is about how the association fulfills members’ needs.
You may even uncover a member need that is not met by a current product and service.
“It’s a whole different way of communicating,” explains Sheila Dodson, RCE, CEO, Baldwin County Association of REALTORS®, Ala. “It’s a big change in how you articulate what you do back to members. It’s a description of how we answer their needs and communicating value in such a way that they understand what they receive.”
For example, instead of simply listing technology classes as a membership value, describe how the classes provide members with technology readiness, “because knowing the right technology and how to use it gives you more effective ways to service your customers.”