Membership in a professional society, trade association or organization is voluntary.

However, when asked what is the number #1 reason why a real estate professional joins their REALTOR Association the most frequent replies include:

  • Participation in the MLS
  • Required by their broker’s policy and procedures manual


This is what I call implied coercion.

It is implied by understanding the only value the association offers is the MLS and that a member wouldn’t belong otherwise. The behavior to renew dues is being forced upon the member rather than truly believing the association delivers a substantial return on investment is in the best interests of members. In other words, the association can change MLS as primary reason for membership participation as long as the association changes the language for how they communicate their value.

Here are the step to follow to make the move from implied coercion to aligned best interests:

Cocktail party

#1 Create a trust survey and hold focus groups to determine what the best value propositions the association has to offer according to the member. Surveys alone don’t work because if you get a 15% response rate I’m more worried about the 85% that didn’t respond.

#2 Using the list of top value propositions make the following calculations:

  • Cost to acquire the member benefit
  • Member savings/revenue opportunity,
  • ROI for each value per member.

Total up the value and you have 1 gazillion percent.

#3 Find the trigger words behind the qualitative answers that solicit emotion to be more, do more, look better in front of peers, etc. Those words will come in handy for your marketing copy.

#4 Determine the cost of not joining the association. This could be losing license, losing time during a commission dispute, or not getting paid on a transaction.

#5 Write the marketing copy for each value proposition according in the following order:

  • Address the problem that the value solves
  • Aggravate the problem
  • List the value proposition as the only solution
  • Discuss the benefits in the members’ best interests
  • List the features that are distinctive to similar offerings
  • List the call to action according to desire
  • List the testimonials with names, pictures, and video if available
  • State the call to action in terms of supporting logic
  • Include a bonus
  • List the cost or fear in not taking action

There’s a difference between what you say, you know, you understand, and you desire vs. they hear, they understand, they do, and they believe.

Executives and leadership know that if the MLS went away there is still plenty of value that merits the investment in the association. The question whether that value is explicitly stated and acted upon will make the final determination whether an association will retain its relevancy when/if the MLS is no longer required to maintain membership.


Organizations bring in Doug Devitre from St. Louis, Missouri USA when they want to dramatically increase operational performance, create breakthrough value propositions, and serve customers beyond geographical constraints on a minimal budget. For more than a decade he has been setting trends with how organizations engage customers with social media, video marketing, and custom-built software applications. Doug’s book Screen to Screen Selling published by McGraw Hill pioneered the way sales professionals sold homes without being physically present before the COVID-19 pandemic. He is one of a select few who have earned the Certified Speaking Professional Designation from the National Speakers Association and has experience as a REALTOR.

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