Recently, I had the pleasure of attending Tony Robbins’ Business Mastery, an immersive, intense, and often emotional event teaching the fundamentals and strategies of business growth and optimization.   One of many pieces of wisdom I took away:

“The biggest mistake most organizations make: They fall in love with their business or products and not with their clients.”

To illustrate this point, we studied the 3 Dimensions of Relationships which describe the evolution of relationships from superficial to lasting and meaningful.  The same dynamics apply to relationships between individuals, businesses and consumers, as well as between Associations and their customers (members and all others who interact with the organization).  In this context we can consider the 3 Dimensions of Engagement.


Level 1 – In a human relationship, this is the “all about me” level.  In business, the association views its customers primarily in terms of the benefits they provide, with an emphasis on monetary transactions.

Level 2 – This is the stage of equality.  Each party strives to meet the other’s needs.  This level is more mature than level 1, but there is still a limit to the depth and quality of the relationship in the long term.   In business, engagement increases as there is an exchange of value between the association and its customers.

Level 3 – Your needs are my needs.  In human relationships it means you take total responsibility for how the other person feels and won’t give up for any reason until you succeed in meeting their needs.  In business, the association has now fallen in love with its customers over its products and services. Customers have an emotional connection to the association, its brand, and its mission.  They’re committed, they spend more, and they spread the word to others.

Which level are you?   The answer is in your data.

While emotional connection is subjective, other indicators of engagement can be easily quantified.  The definition and measurement of engagement indicators can vary among associations, but generally involves measuring the quantity, frequency, and impact of certain behaviors such as:

  • Dues payment and donations
  • Conference Attendance
  • Contributing articles or expertise
  • Purchasing association products and services
  • Web views and usage
  • Social media participation interaction

Moving beyond a transactional relationship with customers requires an understanding of who your customer is and what they want so that you can meet their needs in the areas that matter most.  Using data analytics, associations can collect data on these and other measurable behaviors from all points of interaction with their customers.  When this data is presented in intuitive, interactive dashboards and visualizations, association executives and staff can understand the story in their data about how customers are engaging with the association and gain insight into how to positively influence future engagement activities.