Warrior spirit is an uncommon term in business. In athletics – yes. In religion – yes. Even in psychology.  Kathy Marlor describes a warrior spirit this way: If you ever worked hard to get a college term paper done and “Aced” it or simply set a goal and didn’t quit along the way no matter how tough it got, no matter what obstacles were in your path, because you were so driven to succeed-then you my friend have experienced using a “warrior-style” spirit.

I like the duo of a warrior spirit “culture” and outcome based planning. It’s a combination that energizes new debate about what is relevant, and moves leaders to new action.  The warrior spirit evokes characteristics like courage, resolve, commitment to overcoming obstacles, constant progress, capitalizing on strengths, overcoming weak spots and getting help when you need it. Below I offer a business case for approaching your business planning with a warrior spirit.

1) RELEVANCE – Any organization (or product) that is not relevant to your member is going away. While the internet is not making face to face sales extinct, it is requiring professionals like you and me to up our marketing game. It demands that we strengthen and reconsider our brand. There is stiff competition. A compelling value proposition that resonates with a specific target audience, shows how your business does one or two things better or different than your competition a business necessity.

2) RESEARCH – If you skip member research, and assume you know what members think is relevant today, you are in trouble. Your business calls for value-based research one time every year. The same frequency that you get together to do annual planning each and every year. The same frequency that you reconcile your financials. There are two good reasons for conducting research: 1) To benchmark your member about what is important to them and their satisfaction with how you deliver on those activities, and 2) To trend your performance year to year on key value categories so you can be accountable for progress. This is how to validate your improvement on a few, key business indicators. Yes, things can change in one year.

3) COMMUNICATION – If you believe you are valuable but cannot articulate (sell or explain) your value to members, its time to set aside time to figure it out. Think about the benefits you offer your members. Do you wonder why more members don’t appreciate your portfolio? Or choose them? Is your list of member benefits the most relevant and unique a member can get – anywhere? Is that list of member benefits the right list?

4) A UNIFIED MESSAGE – If your sales staff and you do not communicate the same reason you are different and better than the competition, your member will not get it. Your challenge is to make a clear, compelling statement of how you are relevant based on what your members need most.  Not what you think is important. The goal is to clarify the reason for your most important members. If you do this well, you have the chance to influence the “indifferent” ones – your prospects.

Your value proposition is a differentiator between your association and providers of similar products or services. Your unique value proposition will help you articulate what is most valuable to your members. It narrows your focus to what they need most—and what you do best to answer their needs.

Creating your value proposition requires courageous conversations – searching – talking – debating about important member audiences, their big needs and your most relevant expertise. It may take you to a new conversation about the products and services you deliver.

And one more thing, developing your value proposition helps your employees communicate in a unified way across your company, in a language your members understand.

You have stiff competition. Now is the time to embrace your warrior spirit.