One of the most frustrating things about running a membership organization is when you know that your organization does great work, but it seems like a lot of people still don’t know that you exist.

An organization can’t thrive in obscurity, right?

That’s why we’re kicking off a new 4-part series this week called, “Why They Don’t Know You Exist (and What to Do About It).”  Each week, I’ll address one key problem that I’ve seen hold organizations back and I’ll share what you can do if you find yourself in the same situation.

Here’s the week-by-week run-down:

  • WEEK ONE:  You aren’t showing up where your prospective members are trying to solve problems.
  • WEEK TWO:  You aren’t offering a promise that prospective members notice or care about.
  • WEEK THREE:  You aren’t showing up consistently.
  • WEEK FOUR:  They actually DO know that you exist, but you haven’t captured the connection.

So, let’s jump into this week’s topic. The #1 reason why prospective members don’t know that you exist is because you aren’t showing up where prospective members are trying to solve problems.

To be fair, a lot of associations, trade groups and nonprofits don’t naturally think of themselves as “problem solvers” per se. Instead, they often think of themselves as mission-minded organizations that exist to advance a cause that people should care about because it’s the right thing to do.

However, if you can tweak your thinking just a little bit around this and begin framing what your organization offers around solutions to specific problems, it will be easier to identify where/when your ideal member is going to be receptive.

Consider this example:

A long-term care association may provide lobbying, an annual conference, some networking meetings, and a few trainings each year… but their offerings could easily be reframed around problem-solving to help members fill their long-term care beds more easily or get paid more quickly at higher rates.

If the association were to think about where their prospective members might be trying to solve such problems, a wide variety of possibilities emerge:

  • They could publish articles focused on those problems on their own website.
  • The association could create relevant articles for industry magazines or to be used as guest posts on strategic partner blogs, newsletters, etc.
  • They could offer an introductory workshop targeted specifically at one of those problems.
  • They could create referral relationships with marketing firms, accounting firms, or legal firms that specifically serve the long-term care industry.
  • They could publish an e-book and distribute via Amazon.
  • They could create a YouTube channel that is problem/solution focused.

Can you see how ALL of these things become easier when you’ve identified specifically that your prospective members have problems that you can help them solve?

When you are positioned in these places where people are looking to solve their problems, it becomes almost impossible to NOT run into you and discover that your organization is exactly the answer they’ve been seeking.

My challenge to you this week is to look at your current messaging to see if it is problem-focused and where/when/how you are (or could be) positioning your organization as a solution.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Hit reply and let me know what you discover.

If you’d like to catch the Crowdcast that I did recently on this topic, you can go here.

Have a great rest of your week!

How I Can Support You:


1) Complete the Growth Scorecard to get laser-focused on your organization’s trouble spots and areas of strength.

2) Register to attend this month’s Growth Workshop to find out what to do with your Scorecard results.

3) Or skip those things and go directly to a 1-on-1 call to discuss Private Consulting.

If you aren't quite sure where to begin, the best thing to do is reach out and schedule a quick call!


Joy Duling is Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.  Since 2005, Joy and her team have helped associations, trade groups and membership-based nonprofits run their programs more easily and deliver exceptional member care.

You can find FREE tools, tips and training to help you run and grow your membership organization in The Joy of Membership Help Hub.