Who Is Us?

Who Is Us?

By Bruce Hammond

When reading Seth Godin’s blog post from back in January, , I got excited. In only four sentences, he spoke volumes about numerous issues associations have had for what seems like forever without ever mentioning our industry.

As simple as it is (it’s only forty-eight words total!), Seth’s post hits on membership recruitment, branding, marketing, and being customer-centric. All of these are incredibly important for associations to be successful today.

Membership Recruitment

Godin says, “…you need to be really clear who 'us' is. Not just who am I joining, but what does it mean to be one of you?”

In other words, WHY should I join YOU (and not the other group who offers similar benefits?) Why do you exist and why are you the best place for me to spend my money/time? is a big proponent of starting with why, and it’s hugely important in recruiting members.


Is it clear to those outside of your walls what “being one of us” is? Simplifying it even more, is it clear who “us” is to those outside of your organization’s staff and Board? If not, you’ve got a branding and messaging problem.

Looking internally, if you talked to members of your own staff or Board, would all of you answer similarly what it means to be a member of your association? Would all of you be able to clearly articulate why someone should “be one of us”?

If you want to, you should be able to, as Godin says, “build a tribe or a movement.”

Being Customer-Centric

group shot of peopleAgain, in not so many words, Godin speaks to the importance of thinking about the customer/potential member when doing your work. Articulate who you are, why they should join you, and what that commitment means for them. It should be all about them when you’re recruiting and marketing. It should NOT be about what’s in it for you.

In just four sentences, Seth Godin makes a powerful point. While he wasn’t speaking to associations specifically, his forty-eight word post was a powerful reminder for our industry about the need to be very clear about “who is us” and why someone should care.

Bruce Hammond, CAE, serves as a Senior Operations Manager at Association Management Center. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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