Why is benchmarking so important for associations and their members?
12 February 2018
Posted by: Katie Spackman
Benchmarking: 70% of associations want to do it, but only 30% manage to conduct benchmarking. Of course, associations sometimes conduct surveys among their members, but these are more customer satisfaction surveys about how members experience the association. Real benchmarking surveys, focus on member insight and improvement and are highly valuable for both the association and the members.
Here is an example of how NEVAT - the Dutch trade association with 170 ambitious affiliated suppliers uses benchmarking. Their mission or value proposition is:
“All NEVAT activities are focussed on creating the best corporate results for its members to enhance their market position. NEVAT supports companies to become more professional, to innovate, and to stand out in technology and operational management.”
NEVAT uses benchmarking studies to support its member companies in their professionalisation and innovation. They also use benchmarking to support business coaching, which supports performance improvement. Both their benchmarking studies and business coaching, increases the satisfaction, engagement and retention of their members. NEVAT also uses benchmarking to anticipate trends and needs in their industry and to open conversation with their members about the need to innovate.
Why is benchmarking important for an association?
Help TO improve
Regardless of whether you are a professional, trade, scientific or medical association, society or federation, you should know what you members’ concerns are so you can tailor your service and products to their needs. The more you know about their concerns, their pains, their gains, their obstacles, the more you are able to help them. Benchmarking is asking about your members (and not about you) and making a comparison with their peers, for better insights and possible improvements. Benchmarking gives professionals and organisations insights in to how they are doing compared to their peers. Benchmarking is important to help your members improve.
Besides helping your members, you help yourself, because you get really valuable market and member information. With this information you are better prepared for advocacy, which can have more impact.
Unique value-added service
By offering benchmarking surveys to your members, which are not available on the market, you create a unique value-added service for your members. This could be a reason for them to retain their membership and for non-members to become member.
Benchmarking also helps in setting industry standards. One of the existing reasons for associations is safeguarding the quality of the profession or the organisations. Benchmarking helps to gain insights in the quality of each member, but also helps each member to see how they perform against these standards compared to peers.
Members are willing to pay for a relevant benchmarking service that will help them improve their organisation and benchmarking could be an interesting revenue model, by asking a participation fee or selling the reports. Associations are looking for new services to offer to their members and in return, members are asking for more individual services and want to have more ‘bang for their buck’.
When you offer benchmarking services, you say to the market that you care about your members. That you want to help them. You also demonstrate forward thinking. An organisation or individual who has the choice of becoming a member of two similar associations, will chose the one who wants to help their members improve.
Benchmarking for your association
There are many reasons why you should offer benchmarking as a service to your members, but what would be your main reason?
Author: Tonnis Van Dam, Benchmarking Director, Compare 2 Compete