September 20, 2016
The power of choice. Everyone loves it, but not everyone has it. When was the last time someone forced you to get a specific ice cream flavor? Manicure color? What about your hair cut? For most people, they value the ability to choose for themselves. Why should their membership experience be any different? A trend that is taking over the association space is tiered memberships. Tiered memberships give power back to your members. They get to choose what they value from your association and how much they’re willing to spend on it.
Change: It’s a hard thing for people to accept, especially if you’ve been doing something the same way for many years. Chances are, most associations have had the same benefit structure for years, and I mean years. The thought of changing your entire membership model probably sounds awful, but it’s important to remember the potential benefits. You should always remember that people don’t necessarily need associations anymore. With the influx of social media and technology, there are hundreds of ways to network effectively. Members’ mindsets have changed and they want to be in control, that’s why associations should consider shaking up their membership models. You may think that this method sounds like a lot to keep up with: more records, different marketing content for each tier, a dues billing nightmare, etc. However, with the right AMS and some simple adjustments, associations can make this work. Associations may be fighting the need to make this change because of the fear of the unknown.
I get it - your membership structure is working. You may be wondering, “What’s in it for me?” For starters, happier members. Members want to be in control of their membership experience, why not start off on the right foot? Rather than being assigned a specific membership level and dues, they have the opportunity to shop around and decide. Imagine if someone lost their job, but still wanted to be a part of your organization? They now have the opportunity to choose a lower membership level and still receive great benefits. It’s a win-win.
The increase in membership options may increase member retention, as members now have the luxury of putting value on their membership. Additionally, the updated membership structure could be used as a marketing initiative to recruit new members. Some prospects may not feel that they would benefit from an advanced membership, but would like to receive basic benefits at a fraction of the cost - that’s where tiered memberships come in handy.
Creating a tiered membership model is a customizable experience for every association. Each association offers different benefits for different types of members. It’s your job to sit down and evaluate how these benefits will be distributed within each layer. An easy way to gain access into what members like is to track data - this shows what engages members. By doing this, you can delegate which benefits go in each tier, based on popularity. You should ask yourself some questions while constructing your new benefit plan: How will we divide benefits? What will be the most popular membership type? What will members value the most? How do we price these layers?
Whether it’s offering gold, silver and bronze or basic, standard and advanced, there are many different ways to create tiered memberships. Feeling a little uneasy about this?
Checkout our example below:
Give members a basic benefit package. Offer them an annual membership, professional networking opportunities and monthly newsletters. This allows members to get basic benefits, without them feeling overwhelmed and overcommitted.
Members receive a membership package similar to what they received prior to the membership model switch up. Some additional incentives may include: conference and event promotional discounts.
This is for the serious member - someone who has the time to invest in their association and all it has to offer. Associations should provide them with VIP treatment, considering they are paying for it. There should be some exclusive benefits that these members receive if they are paying for a premium membership. Whether it’s additional discounts, association swagger, or private events, these members should be honored for their commitment.
Obviously, your association can configure its membership structure as it deems appropriate. This is a way for associations to dive-deep and understand what members want from them. Uprooting your entire benefit structure may sound scary, but the positives outweigh the fear of the unknown.
To learn more about hearing your members, take a look at our blog: Listen to the Voices of Your Members.