Let's start with the facts. You already know you have a great product or service. You have built a good list of viable community association contacts. Now you're ready for action -- or maybe not. You need just one more piece to complete this puzzle - you need to position your product or service in the "right light" so you can convince association decision makers (and those who influence them). To do that, you must first understand the role and purpose of the association board.
What is a Community Association Board?
The association "board" is the governing body for the community association, representing the homeowners (considered "members" of the association) and empowered to run association affairs, making financial and operational decisions (with homeowner approval when needed). Board members are elected by the homeowners (and homeowners do have the power of recall). Board organization varies according to the provisions of the individual governing documents (Declaration, By-Laws, etc.), with some boards having as few as three (3) members, and some having as many as nine (9) or more (five (5) is typical). Board members are also officers of the association, covering executive (President and Vice President), financial (Treasurer) and recordkeeping (Secretary) obligations. Some Board members act only as directors and are not officers of the association (Director title). Every board member has an equal vote, with a majority required for most issues (and possibly a super majority for some).
These technicalities set the stage, but, when it comes to successful marketing, there is one characteristic of the community association board that rises above all others - board members are volunteers. The law gives the board a lot of power to run the affairs of the association, and with that comes a lot of responsibility (and even personal liability under certain circumstances). And it's all for the same salary - zero! So why do they do it? That's the question to ponder as you create your marketing strategies.
Board Member Motivations
Since "salary" is not a motivating factor, what leads someone to serve on a community association board? There are a number of possibilities:
- Board members want to take an active role in protecting their own property investment.
- Board members care about "community" and want to be part of something bigger than themselves.
- Board members are looking to acquire actual professional experience to boost their skills and resume.
- Board members want a hobby to fill the time (it's something to do).
There is no way to predict all the possible motivations for volunteering, so it's just best to look at the motivations driving the decisions boards make and the actions they take. Bottom line - boards want to keep the homeowners happy. Board participation can be a thankless job (and we have already established that it's an unpaid job). Homeowners can be largely apathetic - until enough of them (and it doesn't take that many) "get unhappy". That's why the primary motivation of the association Board is to avoid that fate:
- Board members don't like to rock the boat - but they do want to generate "accomplishments".
- Board members want to avoid raising dues.
- Board members want to avoid special assessments.
- Board members want to keep the property in good working order.
- Board members don't like owner complaints with regard to management services.
- Board members want to be able to point to rising property values (and take appropriate credit).
These are the key motivations to address as you pitch your products and services. And, with the right data, the right strategy, and the right message, you will have a good start to marketing success.