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3 Innovative Membership Models for a Smarter Membership

If you haven’t thought about switching up your membership model, now is a great time to start. Here are 3 membership models your association Here are 3 membership models your association can try on for size.

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It looks like memberships are being put to the test as of late. According to GrowthZone’s 2018 Associations Trends Survey Report, 54% of surveyed associations reported either no change or decrease of overall membership growth within their association.

Similarly, 48% reported the same decrease or lack of change when it comes to new membership growth. It seems that increasing membership is becoming harder and harder to achieve this year. So, your association’s membership could be at risk. Its strength is being tested, and it’s up to you to create an environment for membership success.

With that being said, it might be time to take a look at your association’s membership model and see if there’s any changes to be made. Since technology is rapidly advancing around us every single day, it’s important that your association stays on top of any change that’s thrown its way. This also includes updating your membership model to fit the new needs of your members. GrowthZone also reports that the number one reason members don’t renew their membership is because they felt a lack of value/little to no return on their investment. You don’t want your members to lose interest in the value of your membership model.

If you haven’t thought about switching up your membership model, now is a great time to start. There are a variety of simple changes you can make to create a more innovative membership model. Here’s 3 membership models your association can try on for size.

1. Tiered pricing

We know that membership isn’t a one-size-fits-all model for everyone. Oftentimes, your members have different lifestyles and are looking to have that reflected in their membership options. Therefore, offering a tiered pricing membership model could be ideal.

A tiered dues structure can keep current members happy while also attracting a new group of potential members to your association. If your association is looking to switch over to a tiered dues membership model, there are some things to consider.

First, you need to make sure that every tier has distinct benefits and member values. This means a lower-level would have basic benefits and flexibility and a higher-level tier would come with more benefit options. Otherwise, members might feel that your higher tiers aren’t as valuable as the price entails. You also need to prepare to market each level to your members. Don’t expect your membership tiers to sell themselves- create a unique marketing strategy for each tier by researching your membership.

For example, a lower-tiered membership option might appeal to members looking to save money, like younger professionals and students. If your association knows this, it can prepare a marketing strategy that reaches that type of audience for maximum success. On the other hand, a higher membership tier could attract senior executives, experienced business professionals, and other established audiences. For this tier, you could market the exclusives of a higher tier membership and how it can help improve even the higher up professional’s business experience. A tiered dues membership model can create a well-rounded experience for any type of person looking to join your association.

2. Group sales

A group sales model appeals to businesses and any members within the same company save some money in the long run. What is a group sales membership model? It’s a type of model that offers discounts to businesses or a number of members within the same company. By bringing in a large sum of members, an organization can save money on things like events, content offers, webinars, and anything else your association decides.

A group sales model can also offer membership discounts per person in the group depending on the size of the group. Think of it like a trade off- the more members a company brings into your association, the bigger the discount you offer each member. A group sales model is a great way to boost membership numbers for any association. It gives businesses an incentive to recommend your association to all of its employees. Typically, group sales discounts can vary anywhere from 5%-30% off of a membership or offer. However, it’s entirely up to your association to choose an appropriate discount that fits your needs. The Cincinnati Arts Association offers a group sales discount to its members and non-members. Businesses and groups looking for discounts on events and performances in Cincinnati can come to the Cincinnati Arts Association.

Your association should have an easier process for group membership applications. This way, enrolling as a group doesn’t have to be a long process for either party. A group sales model can save both time and money for member groups looking to join your association.

3. Organizational offers

Does your association cater to a specific type of organization? An organizational membership could be for you. Organizational memberships are typically used by associations who market towards a specialty field or specific group of professionals. They’re a great way to sell your benefits and attract a wide audience to your membership. An organizational membership often coincides with premium content. This can include things like a members-only website, exclusive webinars, or private events. That being said, if your association is looking to switch over to an organizational membership, you first have to come up with premium offers.

Consider building a members-only website for your association. This can include a forum for members to interact, a place to pay dues and/or renew their membership, a calendar of important dates, and a variety of other tools. Another premium benefit you can offer is exclusive content. Offer organizational members access to a library of premium content that they couldn’t find anywhere else. You want members to feel a sense of exclusivity with your membership model, and premium content is a perfect way to keep them satisfied.

The American Library Association (ALA) has a web page dedicated to organizational membership benefits. Their page states the following: “ALA organizational membership supports and provides access to invaluable for solving problems and providing services to the communities we serve.”

Bonus Model: Hyper-bundling

Hyper bundling is a recently new development in membership modeling that relates closely to the organizational membership model. Hyper-bundling is the act of grouping together exclusive benefits and services that come with an organizational membership. It’s an easier sell for associations and allows members to budget their membership more efficiently.

Hyper-bundling is great for associations who offer a wide array of tools, offers, services, and/or events. If you have a long list of benefits for members to choose from, hyper-bundling can make the decision easier. Smith & Harroff Inc. writes about the benefits of providing a hyper bundling option to members. Their President, Rick Morris, stated:

“This approach offers associations a more efficient sales process and allows members to better budget, plus it creates a culture of engagement and has been shown to result in higher retention rates”.

If your association already has or is looking into an organizational membership model, consider how hyper-bundling can further enhance your membership success. So, there you have it. Three different membership models your association can consider to innovate its current one (and one helpful bonus!) Think about switching up your model to stay ahead of your member’s wants and needs and see how a new membership model can boost your association’s future success.