Is it Time to Refresh Your Membership and Re-evaluate Your Approach?
Members of an organisation are its lifeblood. But what is the perfect member?
How many members do you want? Or need? Or can the organisation cope with?
Who is your target member(s)? Which members bring the best to the organisation?
The list goes on and on. What is the best way to not only recruit but to retain members, and how do you increase the length of an average membership?
Membership of an organisation revolves around the positive outcomes that the member receives by being a member of that organisation, so how do you improve on that, and continue to make the benefits of membership to the member far outweigh the cost or commitment of membership?
Firstly, value, the cost of membership must be ‘worth it’. Exclusive clubs give the perception of worth through limited membership and high cost, the perceived value of membership being that of exclusivity. The majority of members, however, must feel that there is a greater fiscal return or emotional value (usually both) compared to the cost of membership.
Best assets: Highest Critics – Not listening, Not responding and fundamentally not ‘representing the needs’ of your members is the quickest way to reduce membership. Any organisation offering membership, should, rather than stipulating rules and dictating terms, services etc, be open to feedback that moves the organisation forward AND therefore is seen as a thought leader and proactive organisation. Often organisations react too slowly, (They do say if you want something done don’t involve a committee) but there must be a way for organisations to streamline and think more radically to meet the ever increasing and diverse needs of a broad membership.
Appropriate, timely and proactive communication for your membership is critical. But not every section of your membership is going to either need or want to hear about every aspect. How then do you define who gets what information and how do you manage that? Of course, this is down to what data is held and the storage of that data in a way that allows for ease of access and defines sections and subsections of a membership accurately. It must also allow for real-time interaction between the member and the data so that the experience is genuine and accurate. This brings us onto the software used for membership data storage. I am certainly not qualified to make any suggestions for this as the range of options and your needs are massive, but the following site provides a good software comparison across a multitude of sectors: Capterra
You are not alone! Remember, there are various forums and networks for membership organisations. Peer to peer communication makes for a stronger sector. Discussions within an industry around industry-related issues or concerns that effect the organisation or more importantly the members of that organisation, mean that resolutions can be found and common problems resolved to everyone’s benefit. One such network is the Membership Management Forum
Timely and Relevant Communication. Membership is not something that happens at annual renewal time. It is a strategic process, a process that needs to be implemented daily. Implementation happens through participation. Touchpoints that are relevant to the period of membership involve that member adding value to their experience and creating a further ambassador for your organisation. Be it a quarterly magazine, regular email with interesting articles, request for voluntary help, a survey, a call or something FREE that only members will benefit from. If when eating out, the only time the waiter paid any attention to you was when they placed a smiley face on the printed bill won’t make you want to come back or make a recommendation in a hurray! An article by Carol Dunitz Ph.D provides invaluable insight and a great reminder on how to approach communication.
There is no one size fits all solution to membership, but I believe that membership organisations need to work a little smarter to improve the experience their members experience and the first place to do that is to around the information that is shared and the two-way communication between the member and the organisation. The more involved the more data is known, the more valued the member feels as a result.
Romax Marketing & Distribution, a Greenwich-London based company, provides a wide range of services in Direct Marketing for B2B and B2C, Direct Mail, Data Management, Printing, Discount Postage and Membership Communication Services and Consultancy. Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 20 8293 8550