The world (and a certain founder of MCA) has gone a little “Marie Kondo” crazy as of late. If you’re not familiar, Marie is a tidying expert who counsels people to ask themselves “Does this bring me joy?” in the process of decluttering their homes and lives. This same approach can work when evaluating your member benefits.

Before you add a NEW member benefit to the potentially overcrowded benefit shelf, ask yourself if “more” is what you need or if you should first look at the benefit line-up today and do a little housekeeping. Ask yourself “Do all these benefits bring our members joy?”

Member Value Propositions: Weight Not Volume

“What do I get for my dues?” is a very reasonable member question. “Are we delivering enough value?” is something leadership often asks. The answer to both questions shouldn’t be measured in the volume of member benefits you have, but rather in the quality and relevance your benefits have for your members.

There once was a membership organization that prided itself on having four full pages in the member magazine describing all the member benefits. Dozens and dozens of them! However, many of them were meaningless to the overall member population.

For example, some were regionally specific (a member living in California is not interested in a benefit that can only be claimed at a specific location in New York). Some were discount offers anyone could get by simply asking (no membership required). Certainly in amongst the long list were benefits and services of value, but the member had to work too hard to find them.

Are you doing that to your members? Are you assuming they know what comes with membership, and it’s up to them to find/use/derive value?

If you are, be prepared to feel the negative effects of that strategy at renewal time. Especially if you’re providing a long list of benefits when you ask them to renew. This reminds them of the benefits they failed to use and either makes them feel wasteful or reminds them they got along just fine without them.

How do you know? You listen to your members

Using active listening through member surveys is critical in determining the value, or “weight” of a benefit to members. Be mindful that you will get different answers depending on where the member is in their life cycle with you when you do your research. A prospect may perceive the appeal or value of a benefit differently than someone who has been a long-time loyal member. It’s important to understand the prioritization of benefit value at different member life stages so you can help members move to the next stage of perceived value, thereby improving your retention results.

Prospects, or even new members, may place a high value on discounts, but the longer someone is a member, the importance of discounts is relegated to “convenience.” The things that rank higher are benefits that deliver non-commodity value, like networking, friendships, a sense of identity and other community-based benefits.

Put your benefits on a scale and see how they measure up

Determining the power of a benefit or service is more than simply looking at how many members are using it. Perception of access to a benefit may very well be as important to your audience as the act of actually using that benefit. Think of benefits a little like insurance – you may not need it but it’s good to know it’s there.

We recommend taking a look at your benefits both quantitatively and qualitatively. Measure, rank and objectively evaluate your lineup to make sure your benefits are clearly communicated and deliver relevant value to your members.

To make sure you’re including all possible points of evaluation, use MCA’s Benefits Performance and Value Scorecard as a starting point.

Use the scorecard philosophy to evaluate, rank and maybe even let some of those old benefits go, in a Marie Kondo kind of way (they served their purpose and have expired).

However, before you cut a benefit from the list permanently, try a quiet elimination. Stop talking about it, stop promoting it, stop supporting it. If no one asks about it for a period of time, it won’t be missed. What you don’t want to do is remove something that has that element of insurance (“someday I might want it”).

Here’s where Active Listening is absolutely critical. This is the epitome of qualitative understanding, whether it’s through Active Listening sessions with members, or Attitude/Awareness/Understanding surveys.

Are Your Benefits Worthy Of Being In Your “Elevator Pitch?”

Achieving an understanding of your member’s perceived value of your current benefit portfolio is a great foundation for the evolution of your “Elevator Pitch.” This is a short description of your organization’s member benefits, explained in a way that any listener can understand in a short period of time.

Instead of rattling off a list of benefits in no particular order, know what your members value, at every stage of their member journey, and build your case for affiliation around that perception.

Understanding and evaluating your current portfolio will position that shiny new benefit for greatest success, and will bring your members the kind of joy that translates into engagement and retention.

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