There may be no more talked about topic today in the Association world than “buyer persona.” This topic may be topping the charts of conversation as Associations continue to recruit and retain membership. Of course, understanding what your “buyers” want and understanding their behaviors as they relate to your Association and alternative resources are the keys to success.

As you contemplate your Association’s buyer personas, consider gaining insights about them using the follow 11 “Ws.” The first five are of the “duh” variety but important nonetheless. The others push you past the obvious to really gain a more intimate view of your members and prospective members’ attitudes, awareness, understanding, behaviors and needs from an Association like yours.

Who: Demographics, firmagraphics, titlegraphics, geographics and genegraphics will help your Association create a profile of your members and prospective members.

What: Beyond who they are, what do they do? What are their responsibilities? Who do they interface with most often? Another important “what” to answer: What products, services, resources of your Association do they find most important and use most often? What Association-provided resources are hardly being accessed? A deeper understanding of “what” will make your Association more effective and relevant and make your staff more efficient.

When: Knowing when your members and prospective members need the resources of your Association and access to their peers most helps create focus in your marketing efforts to recruit and retain them.

Where: A deeper relationship with members and prospects will reveal where they want and expect your Association to be present as a resource to them. You may think your bi-monthly member magazine is where your presence needs to be; members and prospects may tell you otherwise. Ask them where their Association should be present to best meet their needs.

Why: Do you know why your members are willing to share their professional journey with your Association? Why is your association being given the privilege of their time and maybe money?

Okay, those were the five “Ws” you were expecting, albeit defined a little differently than usual. The next six “Ws” will make the first five even more meaningful for your Association’s future growth and relevancy.

Wander: Be sure to ask members and prospects what other Associations, organizations and resources they “wander off” with to get insights and tools your Association can and/or should provide.

Will: Get a sense of the “will” of your members, professional and/or personal. But understand what their deeper purpose is with their membership or prospective membership with your Association.

Wonder: Don’t confuse with “Wander” – this one is about the speculative, imaginative and forward-thinking solutions and resources your members and prospective members need from your Association.

Wade: Wade in member and prospect members’ worlds by periodically shadowing some of your members or types of members or prospects, and learn what they really face rather than what you think they face. These insights will help make your Association far more important and relevant.

Walls: Knowing what “walls” or obstacles members and prospective members face that prevent them from achieving the kind of results they desire will be enlightening to your Association and help it prioritize what resources it offers and identify those that it doesn’t.

WOW!: Asking your members and prospects what your Association could do, offer or provide that would “wow” them helps assure your Association’s success at being the type of Association and resource they want.