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Up Topic Welding Industry / General Welding Discussion / How do I sell the AWS to Welders?
- - By SDavis (*) Date 05-05-2018 21:36 Edited 11-21-2018 01:34
(Introducing myself here is funny, because I am introducing myself to a bunch of old friends, who don’t know we are old friends.  I have never met/corresponded with most of you, but have spent a great deal of time over the years reading, learning from, arguing with myself about, and in general enjoying your discussions on the Old Forum and more recently the Member Forum.  I only recently became a member of both the Old Forum and the Member Forum. Thank you to all of you for the information you have shared with me over the years.)

I am a welding teacher and CWI.  I teach for the Workforce Development Division of the Colorado Community College System. 

I provide on-demand welding training/testing designed to meet the specific needs of each company I teach for. 

If a company needs an employee trained to weld a new widget made out of X material with Y process to Z code, the company calls the school, the school applies for a government grant, and then sends me.

(It is a lot like Welfare… except there is more work involved between the time we ask for government money and the time I get paid.  On that same note, I am a lot like an expert… but with less expertise and more questions.) :grin:

I have been a member of the AWS for 2 years, a CWI for 2 years, and secretary of the Southern Colorado Section of the AWS (Section 146) for 2 years. 

I did not join the AWS during the years I worked as a professional welder because, after much study on the subject, I came to the conclusion that membership in the AWS offered nothing that was a benefit to me as a welder. (Those of you who just started sharpening your knives and grinding your axes, bear with me on that last thought as it ties into what I need help with.) :eek:

At my employer's request, I joined the AWS 2 years ago and shortly thereafter earned my CWI. My employer paid for both expenses. My employer also asked me to become involved with the local Section of the AWS in an attempt to further the goals of the Workforce Development Division. 

The first AWS Section meeting I ever attended happened to be the meeting held to elect Section Officers for the next 2 years.  Not knowing that I had walked into an officer election meeting, I volunteered the information that I was looking to become more involved with the AWS… and was promptly elected secretary. :eek:        (What better way to learn the ropes and be involved?)

To summarize all of the above, I only joined the AWS because my employer requested it and paid for it. In all the years I worked as a welder, I was fully aware of the AWS and never once saw any membership benefits compelling enough to motivate me as a welder to join.

(I need to add here that if I had known when I first started welding that membership in the AWS gave me free access to the entire AWS publication library through my local section of the AWS, I would have joined the AWS in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, the existence of a section library was not something that anyone else, including the AWS, felt was important enough to publicize to welders; and as a result, I did not actually learn such a thing existed until I had been secretary of Section 146 for almost a year.  When I found out, it was like discovering hidden treasure.  I mention this, but also have to say that even though I would have seen the section library as a benefit worth spending my money on, I don't know any other welders who would feel the same way.)

This brings us to the present. I have been secretary for 2 years.  There is very little interest or participation from the community, and the AWS still provides me with no leverage to help me entice welders to join.

(My attempts at organizing an AWS Codes & Standards book club did not pan out. Apparently getting together on the weekends to spend hours reading code books to each other out loud and discussing their hidden meanings was not every welder's dream. Who'da thunk it?) :lol:

How do I sell the AWS?  More specifically, how do I sell the AWS to Welders?

Before I continue further and before any of you rush off to write an answer to that question, I need to say that the very existence of the Southern Colorado section of the AWS (and my continued involvement in this section) is due to the hard work and stubbornness of a handful of men who love welding, and believe in the idea that the AWS represents.  They have simply refused to give up trying to make the section work, in spite of the lack of interest from the community, and the lack of AWS membership benefits for welders.

I also need to mention that in the 2 years I have been learning the ropes as an officer with Section 146, I have made a royal nuisance of myself with a constant barrage of questions to AWS headquarters.  They have gone above and beyond to help answer my questions and provide me with the information I need. Thank you, Rhenda, and all the others I have bothered. (If my picture is on the wall at AWS headquarters and you all are throwing darts at it, make sure you printed it out really big… I don’t want to add to any of the stress my phone calls and emails may have caused you by making you try to hit a passport sized photo of me.) :twisted:

Furthermore, please don’t view the tone of my writing in the following questions and discussion of those question as being upset or angry, or attacking the AWS.  That is not my intention.  I love welding and the idea of what the AWS stands for, and I am trying to figure out how I can help my local section grow. 

This is a call for help. 

The only way I know to get the answers I need is to state the problem as directly as possible from the perspective I see it.  If I have the wrong perspective or am addressing the wrong problem, please help me change.

So back to my question…

How do I sell the AWS to welders?

To phrase it another way, what benefits does a welder get from joining the AWS?

(No need to refer me to the AWS benefits webpage. I have read it and did not find it helpful.)

Most people I have talked to boil the benefits down into 4 areas:
1.  Networking
2.  Discounts
3.  Education
4.  The Opportunity to Give Back

Let’s define the term "benefit" so we are all on the same page before we get too far into this discussion. For the purpose of generating revenue, let’s assume that for something to be considered a sell-able benefit, it has to pass two tests.  First, it has to be exclusively available to those who spend money to get it. (The exclusivity test is fairly easy to quantify.) Second, it has to add a perceived value to the buyer that is equal to or greater than its cost. (The perceived value test is much harder to quantify, but also gives us the room to manipulate customers' perception to our advantage.  This is the reason it is possible to sell a $60,000 pickup to a welder making $40,000 per year.)

Let’s use the exclusivity test and the perceived value test to evaluate the “benefits” that I listed.

Networking:  I don’t know how other sections do it, but we invite anyone who is still breathing to attend our section meetings, which means they can get the benefit of networking without the cost of membership. So networking fails the exclusivity test and thus cannot be considered a sell-able benefit. If we only invited members to participate, we would have almost no participation. (I would like to point out that I do believe networking can easily have a perceived value that is much greater than the cost of membership in the AWS, but without exclusivity it is not sell-able.) 

Discounts:  The discounts offered by the AWS very easily pass the exclusivity test.  After all they are only available to members. The problem with the discounts is that they do not offer a perceived value that is greater than or equal to the cost of membership.  I can see some of you winding up to hit me with the whole list of discounts and incredulous comments, wondering how I can’t see their value, but remember we are talking about value as perceived by welders.  Go back through the list of available discounts that are listed on the Membership Discounts Webpage, and tell me how many of them would actually motivate a welder to part with his money.  I can’t find any. 

Education: Once again this easily passes the exclusivity test, but fails the perceived value test.  Let’s say that I am a welder who just graduated from a 2-year college program.  I will ask two questions when presented with the opportunity to purchase AWS educational material.  Can I afford the material, and will it help me get/keep a job?  Well, I just finished a whole bunch of classes with the same names as what the AWS is offering, and the person looking at my resume still seems to think I only have entry levels skills in those areas.  So what’s the point in paying the AWS money to let me study the same information again?  Besides I learn best hands on.  (I have taken some of education programs offered by the AWS just to see what they were like, and I thought what I saw was excellent.)  I am also going to slip the Welding Journal in here and mention that, as a welder, I did enjoy reading it, but I never knew any other welders who did. The welders I knew all thought it was over their head.

The opportunity to give back: Once again we can look at this through the tests of exclusivity and perceived value, but since it is more a matter of altruism, let me put it this way:  How many welders do you know who have received so much benefit from the existence of the AWS that they want to pour their time and money back into it just to benefit others?

I can’t sell the AWS to welders with the selling points I have been given.  Without the participation of welders, my section will continue to struggle. I don’t know how to get welders involved.  My section faces many of the same problems other sections face all across the West, probably the biggest problem being the large geographic dispersion of members.  The barrier to participation is much higher, which means the motivation to join must be higher as well.  The current participating membership is made up of company owners/management and CWIs. The several hundred welders that this section could easily reach have no interest because they see no value.

I have searched through this forum and the Member Forum and think I have read every post that even mentions benefits to membership (it took a really long time, almost as long as writing this post ), but none of the benefits that are mentioned actually fit the benefits test. I can't sell them.

(I have also read every scrap of information available in the Section Tool Kit concerning promotions and activities that other sections have used to bring people in.)

I need help.

How do I sell the AWS to welders?
How do I help my section grow?

Thank you once again for the many years you have already spent providing me with valuable information. I look forward to your replies.


If you have survived reading this extremely long post, please don't take this as an opportunity to rail on the AWS--that is not my intention here.  If the local section is the grass roots of the AWS, then from what I can see, the roots are dying.   I don't know how to advance the science, technology, and application of welding if none of the people who apply the science and technology of welding ever show up. Help me figure out how to get them here.
Parent - - By 803056 (*****) Date 05-06-2018 02:41
Hello Seth;

You already know the answer to your question. There are many things available to AWS members that you didn't know about before becoming a member of AWS. What did you discover as a member of AWS that you found helpful?

1) You discovered the AWS member has access to the Section's library. If there are just a couple of books in the library that are helpful to a welder it is probably the Welding Handbooks. They summarizes our knowledge of welding. They cover all aspects of welding: welding symbols, power supplies, welding processes, metallurgy, quality, etc. If there is a question about welding, there is very likely an answer in the welding handbooks somewhere. Need to weld a metal that is new to you? There is probably something in the Handbooks that addresses the problem. Have a question about the "code"? What is the maximum width of a weave bead if you're welding with E7018? Looking in D1.1! What do the numbers on the end of the electrode mean? It is in the Handbook!
2) Networking - need a job? The people attending the meetings most likely know which companies are looking to hire welders, engineers, inspectors. They know what the company pays and what the working conditions are like. Most good job leads are from people you know, not newspaper ads.
3) Education - if you don't feel you are making enough money doing what you are doing, something has to change. Education is the easiest route to advancement. Often times education alone isn't enough. You current employer is happy with the status quo. That means, once the education is acquired, a move to a new employer looking for your expertise is in order.
4) Who belongs to AWS?  Members of AWS are the people that makes things happen. They enjoy welding, they enjoy the industry, and they are the people that cause change to happen in our industry. These are not the people that sit at home and complain there's nothing to watch on TV. They're too busy to watch the reruns night after night. These are the people that are in charge of their life and enjoy life because they enjoy what they are doing.

Do you get all the benefits of being an AWS member by attending one meeting a year? Heck no, you have to participate and take advantage of what AWS has to offer. Do you understand everything the speaker is talking about at the technical meetings? Probably not, but you can ask as many questions as you want to learn more than you knew walking in the door. Did you see something new on the last plant tour the section offered? You probably did if you kept your eyes open. You probably saw fixtures or positioners you hadn't seen before or they are using a different welding process or they are working with different alloys that you are used to welding. There is always something new to see or something new to learn.

There is a limit to what you can learn from the welder that is working beside you. For new ideas you have to seek out people that know more than you do. The chances are you'll meet that person at an AWS meeting.

Seth, you joined AWS because your company wanted you to join. What was it about AWS made it worthwhile and kept your interest? The welders you work with are no different than you are. What you find interesting will most likely be interesting to them as well.

I started out as a welder, but I became interested in AWS while I was still a novice. Much of my education was acquired by attending technical sessions and educational opportunities offered by my AWS section and through national. Some of my friends thought I was crazy going to dinner with engineers, inspectors, and salesman. A few years later, after rubbing elbows with those people and taking advantage of the opportunities offered by AWS got me to where I am today. And you know something? I still enjoy what I do. I don't go to  work everyday because I have to. I go to work everyday because there is something new and exciting on my next job!

One of my long time friends asked me if I was going to retire. I told him I hope I never have to retire. His response was, "You wouldn't say that if you ever had a real job. You never really had a job, to you it was just another day of fun. Your customers don't know it, but you would probably pay them to solve their problems."

I attend AWS meeting because that's where I meet the experts in my chosen field. I get to talk to them, ask them questions, and learn about things I would never learn by watching the television every night.

What else can I say?

Welding and AWS go together like milk and cookies.

Best regards - Al
Parent - By SDavis (*) Date 05-06-2018 21:53

Thank you for your response.  Your evident love for your line of work is one of the things I have always enjoyed about your postings on this forum.  Your enthusiasm for the industry is contagious, and appreciated.

In response to the two specific questions you asked…

“What did you discover as a member of AWS that you found helpful?”

The Section Library is the only thing I have found since joining the AWS that was both helpful to me as a welder, and that also required I become a member of the AWS. (Please don’t read this as me saying the only thing about the AWS that I found helpful was the Section Library. That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that the Section Library is the only thing I found that was both helpful and required membership.)

“What was it about AWS made it worthwhile and kept your interest?”

Once again, the Section Library is the primary reason the AWS has kept my interest.

(If it is not clear at this point let me bluntly state that I am still searching for the worthwhile parts that require membership.)

The other things you mentioned, while helpful to me as a welder, are available to me through the AWS outside of AWS membership.  (The other items you mentioned are basically different flavors on the themes of Networking and Education.)

Let me try asking you my question another way.

Those friends of yours that thought you were crazy for going to dinner with engineers, inspectors, and salesman… (I am going to guess they were welders)… How would you sell the AWS to them?

If you could go back and give them a sales pitch that would motivate them to join the AWS what would you say? 

If you explained to them your reasons for going to dinner with engineers, inspectors, and salesman like you just explained them to me, would they join the AWS?  If the answer is; "Yes they would probably join"; then I guess my own attempts at the Education/Network/Life Experience pitch, are not as motivational as yours.  If the answer is; "No they probably would not join"; then we need to find a different way of selling what the AWS is offering so we can change the No to a Yes.
Parent - - By pipewelder_1999 (****) Date 05-06-2018 10:59 Edited 05-06-2018 11:06
Selling anything to anyone can be difficult. I became a member over 30 years ago because I wanted to be a member of a "group" with the same interests as I had. I wanted the Welding Handbooks, the Welding Journal and that was enough for me.

I maintain my membership now because I want to help support the only welding organization in my country. I like to be a part of some "group"...well AWS meets my requirements. Meetings when I can make them are an event that I truly look forward to even if only 4 people are there. I like being in that group of people with common interests.

My interest in welding was and still is the "root cause" for being a part of this group. I have let it lapse a few times over the years due to not paying attention to things so I am not the poster child for AWS Membership for sure.

There is no individual selling point that jumps out at me other than being as deeply involved with a trade that I have truly enjoyed from my HS years through today. Though I truly like to support my lovely wife with the money that my trade has provided, I would weld for 50k a year before I would do anything non-welding related for $200k a year.

Though I have saved the cost of membership in book discounts this year, that won't enter my mind when I renew. I have never considered $ as a benefit in membership.

If I could bottle up my "feelings" about welding and give that to students vs my knowledge, they would outpace my rate of progress over the years. I think we all have different levels of "passion" for things and based on that level, we "participate" accordingly.

Glad the Workforce Development path is working for you. I made a pretty big change a few years back to work in that arena and it has been a learning experience.

The welding industry...even when its bad its good ! I love it and I know this shallow response to your very detailed question may not help but because I'm a part of this group, any interaction I can get in on is good!

Have a great day!
Parent - By SDavis (*) Date 05-06-2018 22:02 Edited 11-21-2018 01:37

Thank you for chipping in.  I had the opportunity to correspond with you a bit last year regarding information on setting up an ATF.  I appreciated your insight.

I guess if selling were easy we would all be doing it.

I argued with myself about posting this question here on this Forum, and wondered whether it would produce any real answers. The very fact that you are all here reading this tells me you are intrinsically motivated enough to pursue your own betterment.  You are willing to put in the effort to seek out information in your chosen field rather than waiting around for someone to come spoon feed it to you as you need it.  The people that participate on this forum are the kind of people who believe they will get out what they put in and then some.  Most of the welders I know are not blessed with that kind of attitude. The question of "what's in it for me" is one I hear from a lot of welders.
Parent - - By welderbrent (*****) Date 05-07-2018 22:44
Good Day Seth,


Interesting, informative, and well stated in the original query and responses.  I think in many ways you have answered your own question and Al and Gerald have given some great insight as well. 

BUT, here I go anyway but in my own confusing circles and not as eloquent as the rest of you.

So, the theory is correct, none of us likes to spend money, especially as hard as it is to come by in this current economy.  NOT, anyway, unless we can easily answer the questions: 'What's in it for me?' and/or  'How does it benefit me?' 

It is interesting the things we will spend money on.  A newest, latest, greatest auto darkening welding hood made with some fancy sticker decoration to it.  A fancy welding jacket to burn up just because of the logo on the back.  A watch that counts our steps and monitors our heart rate and how much sleep I don't get per night.  And so much more.  So, A MEMBERSHIP IN AWS CONTRIBUTES AS MUCH OR MORE TO YOUR OCCUPATION AND EARNING POWER AS ANY OF THESE EXPENSES. 

How about the organizations we will spend our dollars on?  NRA, Rocky Mt Elk Foundation, Deer Foundations, Turkey Federation, or any one of thousands that may represent our special interest.  So, A MEMBERSHIP IN AWS CONTRIBUTES TO AN ORGANIZATION THAT REPRESENTS OUR SPECIAL INTERESTS AND KEEPS IT AND US GROWING TO KEEP EARNING THE DOLLARS TO SUPPORT THOSE OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.  Without our jobs, no one else gets our money either. 

When I started welding as a much younger version of my current self, I knew little about AWS because there was no internet and it was poorly promoted.  Today, there is so much information about our trade and advancement opportunities that a person is just plain ignorant to not want to stay in step with all that is going on and how better than by being a member of THE organization on the cutting (pun intended) edge of advancing our trade. 

Also, I didn't consider my advanced career path until it was almost too late.  Then,  with much wise counsel from others and information from AWS, I am now a CWI and can watch other people work and still make an excellent living but not have my back and other parts of my body hurting so much from being THE GUY throwing steel around all day or working in totally messed up positions.  Career advancement can be learned and supported by being a member of AWS.  Not nearly as easy when you are in the dark. 

Ask them, do you want to be the guy on the bottom of the totem pole all your life?  Or, do you want to be part of something that can help you in a path to career enhancement and advancement? 

One of the stigmas that I have seen while I was AZ Section Chairman went like this:when you try to 'sell' welders on AWS membership they say, 'That's for Engineers and researchers and management types.'  BUT, when you try to promote it to Engineers they say, 'AWS? That's for welders.'  And it just goes around and around. 

The Welding Journal and The Inspection Trends magazines are my best friends.  I read them before I do the American Rifleman from NRA.  I have to watch it or I even read them before my Bible and I truly don't like to put anything before God and His Word. 

The savings on reference materials with the added benefit of the Welding Journal and Inspections Trends.  How can you NOT want to be a member?  The networking opportunities at Section Meetings, FabTech, Seminars, Conferences, and on the forums. 

But, just like a pair of shoes, a new hood, a new car, people have to see a need and then balance that with their other priorities to see if they feel it is a worthwhile cost of daily living. 

Anything that reduces my spendable income for other personal priorities will be highly scrutinized and evaluated. 

It is a worthwhile task to recruit new members.  Not for AWS's sake but for the member's sake.  But, it will mostly be an uphill battle. 

He Is In Control, Have a Great Day,  Brent
Parent - - By SDavis (*) Date 05-09-2018 16:58

I have often wondered if the discipline and thought process required to faithfully read and study one’s Bible translated into a corresponding improvement in ability to read/study/understand the welding codes.  Thank you for your consistent testimony.

I was joking with someone the other day that if welders spent half as much money on improving their knowledge and skill in welding as they spend on Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms the United States would have the most educated & skilled workforce in the world.  It is a fact that we spend money on what is important to us.

Regarding the stigma surrounding membership in the AWS, you made a very similar comment a couple of months ago in the “My Compliments” thread started by Tom West in the Member Forum.  You also made the comment in that same post that:

“People are still confused about what AWS is and the benefits of membership and participation.  It doesn't cost that much and there are benefits for all involved in our industry no matter your particular field of interest.”

That post, and many others like it from you and other posters going back many years, is part of what led me to ask my question publicly on this forum.  My hope was that I could get some clear answers to the benefits of membership for welders.
Parent - - By welderbrent (*****) Date 05-09-2018 17:13
I'm not sure there are any "clear benefits" when every person and their needs are unique and diverse. 

Too one person, receiving the Welding Journal and the great articles would be benefit enough. 

To the next, discounts on books and seminars and conferences would be their justification. 

To another just being part of an organization that is helpful to our future generations of welders with education, scholarships, and all kinds of support.

Some will do it for the camaraderie and even networking opportunities at Section events. 

But all will have a different story as to why they joined and what the 'selling point' was that tipped the scales for them. 

Interesting, someone actually reads and remembers things that I write.  That is scary.  I'll have to be more careful.

He Is In Control, Have a Great Day,  Brent
Parent - By SDavis (*) Date 05-09-2018 17:59
My "memory" extends only as far as the location of the search box... but from there it is unlimited. :lol:
- By SDavis (*) Date 05-06-2018 22:13 Edited 11-21-2018 01:41
I hope this post serves as a further extrapolation of some the themes above. Continue reading at your own risk. :grin:

As a Welder, the only benefit to me (that actually requires me to be a member) is the existence of the Section Library.  In my case knowing about the Section Library earlier in my carrier, would have been enough to motivate me to join.  Since I learned of the Libraries existence, I have published the information far and wide.  To the point, that when a welder I know asked me a welding question, he felt the need to qualify his request for information with: “And don’t tell me I kind find the answer in the Section Library.” 

(I can be very enthusiastic about the information available to welders in the Section Library.) :lol:

The discovery of the new editions of the Welding Handbooks in the Section Library is one of the highlights of my last two years of AWS membership.  I own a partial set of much older Welding Handbooks that I found at a Goodwill several years ago, but they are very much out of date.

As a CWI and Teacher, I have found this Forum to be one of the most valuable resources I have at my disposal.  Membership is not required in order to read this forum.  I spent a lot of time here for many years before I became an AWS member. 

I love the Networking opportunities available to AWS Members. Unfortunately, my experience is that they are equally available to non-members.  I am a highly motivated person who networks very easily on my own. I am not at all bashful about walking into a room full of people that don’t know me and introducing myself to them all as if we have been long lost friends. (See the post at the top of this thread for confirmation of that fact.)  I am not trying to say here that all welders are as comfortable or motivated as I am when it comes to networking.  What I am trying to say is that membership is not required to get the benefits of networking at a Section Meeting.  If membership were required, we would have no attendance. Therefore, networking is not a benefit that I can sell membership with.

I joined the AWS because doing so meant my employer would cover the cost of membership and sitting for my CWI.  Being able to use the discounted cost of education and certification as leverage to convince my employer to invest in me was a primary benefit of Membership.  It would probably be more accurate to say the benefit comes from my current employer who has been willing to risk spending money on me. 

On that note, the discounts on education and certification have a very small Lever Arm compared to the size of the cost/load I am trying to move with them.  It is better than nothing, but I can’t say it is great.  My conversations with management tend to go something like this… 

I say: “You should send me to X training because Y Certification has the potential to make the Company $$$$ over the next 5 years… So will you send me?”  :smile:

They say: “Wow! You make a compelling case.  What will this training cost?” 

I say: “Well the great news is that because I am a member of the AWS you get a discount of $250!” 

They say: Oh? (In a tone that sounds like I might actually get them to part with some money.) :cool: 

I say: “Total cost counting Travel/Food/Lodging/Training and after the generous discount of $250 will be $$$$.$$”

Theirs eyes glaze over and they say:

“This does sound like a very interesting Idea.  Let me think about it.” (In a voice that means; “You must be crazy to think we are about to part with that kind of money just to send you to some training.”) :eek:
- - By SDavis (*) Date 05-07-2018 18:02
In 2016, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 404,800 Welder, Cutter, Solderer, and Brazer Jobs in the United States.

Reference for further information.

Out of the 404,800 Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers in the United States, how many of them are members of the AWS?

The fastest way to answer that question is to conduct a search in the Member Directory of the AWS Member Network.  Limit the search to only those people living in the United States who claim the Job Classification of Technicians, Welders, Welding Operators, or Cutting Operators.  Such a search reveals that out of the 75,600 members listed on the Members Network, only 2112 of them claim to be Welders.

(I would very much like to sit down with each of them and discuss what motivated them to join the AWS.)

To put it another way, half of one percent (or 0.52%) of the welders in the United States are members of the AWS.

The mission of the AWS is to advance the science, technology, and application of welding in all its branches.  How can the AWS expect to accomplish this mission if none of the people who apply the Science and Technology of welding are involved?

So back to the question that I started with…

How do I sell the AWS to Welders?
Parent - - By 803056 (*****) Date 05-07-2018 21:17
I believe in the 10/80/10 rule. 10% of the population excel at the chosen profession, 80% do enough to hold their job, and 10% should really consider doing something different.

A very small percentage of the population take part in their employer's education assistance program. When I was working on my graduate degree, I was the only person in the manufacturing division that took advantage of my employer's offer to pay for the tuition if I attended college. A free education! Yet few people took advantage of the program.

Many people are willing to coast through life as long as they are getting a steady paycheck. As long as there is cash flow they don't even consider jumping ship for a better paying opportunity.

Being a member of AWS requires someone to do something on their own time and often at their own expense. There was a time that many employers would foot the bill for membership in a professional organization and some would even pay for your time if you attended a meeting. In those days gone by these people would populate the executive committees of the local sections. Then there was a change in the tax code where the expenses were no longer accommodated by the tax code. With the change in the tax laws the employers stopped paying for membership and they stopped paying their employee to attend meetings. In the matter of a couple of months our section lost the chairperson, the first chairperson and right down the line. They were never seen again. I have to say the membership we now have are "hard core", they belong because they want to be part of the organization that deals with a profession they find dear to their heart.

I don't believe in the "hard sell". If the individual doesn't take advantage of the opportunities afforded by rubbing elbows with the movers and shakers of the industry, its their loss, not mine.

I find it to be an advantage in my day to day business to be a member of AWS. I would rather attend a meeting with people that are a kindred spirit and share a common interest than sit at home watching television. Not everyone feels the same as I do. It is their prerogative to do as they please.

Several welders I have known for years belong to AWS and enjoy the fellowship and learning about the advances in the industry and they enjoy learning how to do things better, faster, at lower costs. Most of them own their own companies. They started out as someone's employee, but they weren't satisfied to work for someone else. They had a drive that separated them for the rest of the welders. Some people are very happy with the status quo. Some strive for something better. Which one's do you think belong to AWS?

As a member of AWS I share my thoughts about AWS and the benefits of membership, but I don't loose sleep of those that choose not to join.

Best regards - Al
Parent - By SDavis (*) Date 05-09-2018 17:26 Edited 11-21-2018 01:42

It is amazing how the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) pops up in so many aspects of real life.

I agree with you that few people are willing to sacrifice their time and money for their own personal development.  I teach for a number of companies that offer free training and tuition reimbursement to their employees, and very few employees take advantage of those opportunities.  One of the themes that I often hear from my students is that if the company expects them to better themselves through further education, then the company should be willing to pay them an hourly wage for the time they spend bettering themselves, in addition to covering the cost of their education.  (I am only asking for everything. How is that unreasonable?) :confused:

Your description of the “hard core” members of your section sounds familiar.  We could probably trade sections and not notice any difference.  I have often thought that if the AWS dissolved itself tomorrow, the people who currently attend our section meetings would probably never notice.  They would still meet on a regular basis just because they enjoy eating free food and spending time with other people of like interests. 

Thank you for your responses to my rather insistent and repetitive questions.
- By SDavis (*) Date 05-07-2018 20:59 Edited 11-21-2018 01:51
I think we can agree it all comes down to money.  Welders don't want to spend money on what they are currently being offered, and the AWS does not want to change the price on what it is currently offering for fear of losing money.  I think we can also agree that welders are not the ones with the money.

Any changes that are suggested need to at least maintain the current level of revenue that the AWS is generating with its current level of membership, and its current benefits structure.

Let’s look at the numbers we have to beat.

In the 2016 Financial Report, the AWS reported an operating revenue of $40.3 million. And I quote “Our financial position continues to be the healthiest it has been in the 97-year History of the AWS” (WJ June-17, Page 43)

(To read the 2016 Financial Report, please see the June 2017 issue of the Welding Journal. The Financial Report starts on page 42.  This link will get you close… )

So $40.3 million is what we have to beat. How do we do it?

Well, let’s look at what part of the market we are not currently tapping and then ask ourselves what it is that they want.

Out of the 404,800 welders in the United States, 2112 of them are members of the AWS. 

That leaves an untapped market of 402,688 in just the United States. If all of those 402,688 people became members of the AWS at a Membership rate of $88 per year, AWS operating revenue would increase by $35.4 million, bringing the new operating revenue up to $75.7 million.

The question becomes… How do I convince 402,688 welders to join the AWS?

The first thing any good salesman does is identify what his target market wants and the price they are willing to pay. 

Assuming Maslow knew what he was talking about when he created his hierarchy of human needs, then we can safely say that welders want the same thing everyone else wants. They want to feel like they belong, they want to be recognized for their value, and they want to be able to achieve their full potential. 

Let’s look at what the AWS already offers compared to what welders want.

What does the AWS already offer that can fulfill every welder's need to belong to something bigger then themselves?

--Membership!… (That was an easy one!) :cool:

What does the AWS already offer that can fulfill every welder's need to be recognized for their value?

--Recognition of welding certification in a National Registry.  (Nothing quite like being able to pull your own name up online as a certified professional in a given field, even if the certification doesn't mean anything useful in the industry.) :grin:

--Recognition of welding certification with a wallet card

--The AWS gives out paper awards to section members like awards grow on trees, and all the section members have to do to earn them is continue paying their dues. (Yes, I know I am just stirring the pot here.) :grin:

What does the AWS already offer that can fulfill every welder's need to achieve their full potential?

--The unlimited opportunity to grow and develop themselves in their chosen field through access to Educational material and Online Training.

So we know what welders want, and we know what the AWS offers--how do we get the two of them together? At this point, I think it all comes down to price.

Every good salesman knows that once they know what to sell, the only thing left to do is create a product benefits page that sells itself.

Here is what that could look like for the AWS…

Individual Membership Benefits

1.  MASSIVE DISCOUNTS on the PDF versions of ALL AWS Publications.  Every AWS Publication will be made available to members in PDF format for only $9.99 each. (Now that is what a benefit looks like!) :cool:

2.  FREE access to PDF versions of ALL Education and Certification Specifications and Standards

3.  FREE listing of the welder's name in the National Registry of AWS Certified Welders upon completion of applicable qualification testing.

4.  FREE access to ALL AWS Online Educational Courses.

5.  FREE admission to North America’s largest welding, metal forming, fabricating and finishing exposition… FABTECH

6.  FREE subscription to the Welding Journal, the most widely-read industry publication.

7.  Networking opportunities at AWS Section meetings, online forums, and Communities

Student Membership Benefits

1.  All the benefits of Individual Membership with the addition of

2.  FREE Student membership. (Absolutely no annual fee.)

3.  FREE PDF downloads of the top 10 codes and standards in the AWS library.

So what effect would the changes suggested above have on the operating revenue of the AWS?

Worst case scenario:

Assuming no new members joined as a result of the new benefits, the AWS would lose $8.3 million generated from book sales, $6 million generated from Welder Certification, (I don’t think the AWS generates anywhere close to $6 million from Welder Certifications, but I am trying to be generous), and $1.3 million generated from the sale of online courses.

This is a total loss in operating revenue of $15.6 million.  Bringing the AWS down to a new operating revenue of only $24.7 million.  Ouch!
(For comparison, the total operating revenues for 2010 were approximately $26.4 million.)

But wait a minute... Who are we kidding here? If the AWS offered all the benefits listed above, WELDERS WOULD BE STUPID NOT TO JOIN!  And I think that is putting it lightly.

Let’s assume that only half (201,344) of the 402,688 welders in the United States recognized the value of the new benefits. That still brings in an additional $17.7 million in operating revenue for a net gain of 2.1 million. Let’s also say that each of those 201,344 welders also bought one code or standard for $9.99, we are talking an additional $2 million in operating revenue. (If you don’t think this is possible, look at Amazon.  People seem to go on buying frenzies when something they want is presented at a perfect price.)

Best case scenario:

Everyone joins because they realize how awesome the benefits of membership are.
Annual Membership fees jump $35.4 million.
Each new member buys a couple of books, pushing book sales to $8 million.
Operating revenues more than double to $83.7 million.

The world of welding is very very happy! :lol:

How hard would it be to make these kind of changes?

No expensive changing of legacy architecture is required here.  The AWS could implement all of the changes outlined above by simply changing their price structure.  The time required would be two days tops assuming someone has to go in and enter a new price by hand for each product the AWS sells (if you are still doing it that way... :confused:).

None of this needs to happen if welders can be convinced to join the AWS in its current state.  I just don't know how to convince them.

How do I sell the AWS to welders?
- By SDavis (*) Date 05-07-2018 21:01
Whew... (Wipes forehead)

I think I am going to shut up now and return to just reading other peoples posts. :grin:
- - By SDavis (*) Date 05-09-2018 17:03 Edited 11-21-2018 01:53
Here is what I have gathered from the responses so far…

-If a welder is highly motivated to better himself and further his career;

-And if he is willing to actively invest his own time/money in educating himself by reading books and periodicals that may seem well above his current position as a welder;

-And if he is willing to work hard at connecting with the people in the industry who can help him become more than a welder,

Then Membership in the AWS offers him…

-Free access to all the AWS publications through his section library.

-The opportunity to invest additional time/energy/money in educational offerings from the AWS at a slightly reduced rate.

-The opportunity to invest additional time/energy/money working with his Local Section to set up meetings on topics that he finds add value to him.

-The opportunity to connect with the people in the industry who can help him become more than a welder.

(Of the things listed above, access to the Section Library and discounts on education are the only things that can be considered benefits of membership.  In order for them to be benefits, the welder has to be self-motivated enough to perceive value in them.  The other two things can be considered benefits, but they are not benefits of membership in the AWS, they are benefits of active participation in the Local Section.)

$88 per year gets a highly motivated welder access to the section library and some discounts.  If the welder wants additional benefits, he will have to spend additional time/money working to create those benefits for himself through his Local Section.

My takeaway from all this is that I don’t need to sell the AWS to welders, because welders with the drive/initiative/money to better themselves will naturally seek out the AWS as the most effective way to accomplish that goal... And the welders with the drive to come find us are really the only ones we want here anyway.
Parent - By welderbrent (*****) Date 05-09-2018 17:14
I just hit the 'LIKE' button in case you hadn't noticed!!  Well done.
Parent - - By SDavis (*) Date 05-09-2018 17:54 Edited 11-09-2018 15:55
“My takeaway from all this is that I don’t need to sell the AWS to welders, because welders with the drive/initiative/money to better themselves will naturally seek out the AWS as the most effective way to accomplish that goal... And the welders with the drive to come find us are really the only ones we want here anyway.”

I have to admit that while I think it clearly states the consensus so far, this statement leaves me just as confused as to what my actions should be as I was when I started.

To quote the AWS: “AWS strives to move the industry forward in both thought and action, as well as inspire new generations to see the exciting career opportunities available today.”

I am not sure how to inspire new generations and move the industry forward if I am only interested in those individuals who are already inspired.  I am also not sure how an organization can inspire a group of people, when the people they are trying to inspire see no personal benefit to being inspired unless they are already inspired. (Rubs head in confusion. Really not sure what I just said there, but if you read it really fast you might wind up with the same headache I have.) :twisted:

As part of the Executive Committee for my Section, I also receive constant “encouragement” from the AWS to recruit new members, and to sell the benefits of membership to welders in particular.  Member-Get-A-Member Campaign anyone?

What in the world am I to do? :eek:
Parent - By SDavis (*) Date 05-09-2018 20:01 Edited 11-21-2018 01:55
Between the High School and College welding programs in my area I have occasion to interact with over 120 new welders each year.

Every chance I get, I give them my AWS spiel.  My spiel goes something like this…

“If you want to become a master of your craft and advance your skills beyond just making welds for a living… 

Then you need to join the AWS! 

Membership in the AWS gives you free access to the entire library of AWS publications through your Local Section Library.  Your AWS Section Library is the single largest collection of welding information outside of the internet.  If you have a question about welding, the answer can probably be found in your Section Library.  

(The majority of my audience thinks I must be crazy for expecting them to look for information on their own in a book.)

If free access to all that information is not enough, as a member of the AWS, you will also receive member only discounts on all the online and live training and seminars that the AWS offers.

(My audience recognizes that I am very nicely saying that if they want to take advantage of the training offered by the AWS they will have to pay more money to do so.)

If that is still not enough, every member of the AWS is also connected to a Local Section.  Your Local Section is made up of the Who’s Who of welding in your area.  Each Section hosts regular meetings where you can learn practical information that will help you grow and develop as a welder, or you can go and just rub shoulders with the people who are making a difference in the world of welding.

(What my audience hears is that in order to get any benefit from these meetings, they will actually have to be there, and there are a lot of other things they would rather do with their time than sit in a meeting.)

Long story short, if you are highly motivated to develop yourself and want the opportunity to build relationships with the best minds in the world of welding, you need to join the AWS.“

Essentially, what I am offering them is the opportunity to reap the benefits of being a highly motivated person.

Unfortunately, every time I give this speech, I feel like I am saying, “I have a suit of clothes to sell you that is so special only the wisest people can see it.  I know you are a wise person.  Isn’t it a good looking suit?” (paraphrase from "The Kings New Cloths").
- By acideye Date 05-10-2018 10:17
- By SDavis (*) Date 05-11-2018 19:35 Edited 11-21-2018 01:55
Maybe I am asking the wrong question here. 

Perhaps instead of asking... "How do I sell the AWS to Welders?"... I should be asking, "What would an AWS that welders would be proud to join look like?"

I am fairly certain it would not look like it does now.
- By SDavis (*) Date 05-11-2018 21:14 Edited 11-21-2018 01:57
I feel like I have collared the “Elephant in the Room” and am leading him around asking if anyone else can see him, and all the other people in the room are too polite to acknowledge my parade or the existence of the Elephant. 

(The other possibility is that the elephant only exists in my own head, and I am simply embarrassing everyone by parading around asking questions about an elephant that does not exist.) :surprised:  ... Time to call the men in white coats.

Perhaps if there is someone from Miami who still monitors this forum they can chip in with some answers.  Or maybe the AWS marketing department can shed some light on things. I can’t believe the marketing department can be happy with my conclusion that “I don’t need to sell the AWS to welders” or that “We only want the ones who are already highly motivated to join us.”

As a member of my Section's Executive Committee I receive a great deal of "encouragement" from the AWS to promote the AWS to welders. As a teacher, I receive a great deal of "encouragement" to promote the AWS to my Welding students.  I am constantly being told that the AWS exists to promote welding, and inspire new generations of welders.  Yet the organization that exists to promote welding and inspire new generations of welders offers no benefits that would motivate current or future welders to participate in the organization.
I am one of the leaders of my Local Section, and I believe that if I am going to accept the responsibility of leading and promoting an organization, then I had better be pretty clear on what value that organization is offering to the people it claims it exists to serve.  Unfortunately, no one I have spoken to has been able to help me find that value for welders.  When it comes to “value to welders,” I get no answers. I hear all about the value to everyone else.  I even hear about value to welders who want to become more than welders, but I don’t ever hear about value to the 400,000 welders who just want to be welders.

I can only come to the conclusion that an organization that only reaches half of one percent of the people that it claims it exists to serve is very confused about why it actually exists.
- By SDavis (*) Date 05-22-2018 18:39 Edited 11-21-2018 01:58
As a welding teacher, my job is to inspire welders to become part of the 10% who excel at what they do. 

If all I do is pass on knowledge, then I am just creating more of the 80% who do the bare minimum to get by. 

If I can inspire my students with a hunger to improve that is so strong they are willing to continue learning on their own, then I have succeeded. 

I wish the AWS partnered with me in developing that kind of passion among welders. 

I realize that there will always be welders who get by with as little as possible, but I don’t want any of them to be able to look at me or the AWS and say we never offered them any inspiration or benefits good enough to motivate them to behave differently.  I want the ones who lack a desire for improvement to have no excuses.

I am not sure how the AWS can inspire welders when the welders they are trying to inspire see no personal benefit to being inspired unless they are already inspired.
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