What does your organization do really well for your members? So well, that it is almost a “secret sauce” that attracts, retains and satisfies members.

Is your strongest case for enrollment well-positioned and easy to find in your marketing materials and your member communications? In other words, does your prospect or member KNOW what it is and how to find/use it? Or have you buried your best asset under a mound of less impactful benefits, just so you can look like membership delivers a lot of “stuff”?

In the rush to deliver value, have you done yourself a disservice by adding quantity instead of focusing on the quality?

It happens so easily. Benefit ideas pop up and someone (a staff member, or a board member) says “Members will like this!” A benefit gets bolted on without consideration (or even testing!) for the adverse effect it may have. It wasn’t a malicious act; it was done with the best of intentions. And the longer it is on the list, the more it takes up residence because to take it off would somehow reduce the value of membership. Or would it?

What if this is actually getting in the way of prospects and members seeing the good stuff? What if you’re inadvertently throwing shade on the benefit that really does matter, that you do better than anyone. That all important element that improves the member’s experience. The “secret sauce” of your member acquisition and engagement strategy.

Focus on the benefit(s) that matter. To everyone’s benefit.

Trying to please everyone all the time is a recipe for disappointment. Try to deliver too many benefits or services, and you’re bound to exhaust your staff, disappoint your members, and miss opportunities that you just don’t have the bandwidth to explore.

As difficult as the global pandemic has been, it has pushed organizational leadership to look hard at benefits and decide: is it really delivering value? Or is it there because it’s always been there and no one thought to challenge its position?

Walk down the list:

  • Publications.

    Absolutely critical. But are you conducting regular publication satisfaction surveys to find out what departments, columns and features your members find valuable. Which ones could be replaced or retired in favor of something more contemporary?

  • Knowledge.

    Absolutely critical. But is it truly knowledge or simply information? Is it filtered and fitted to your category, or could they do an internet search and come up with pretty much the same thing?

  • Connecting and sharing. Networking.

    This has been the domain of the convention or seminar. And look what COVID-19 did to that. Smart organizations pivoted quickly and proved they could deliver information and connections in a meaningful, scalable way that didn’t involve travel. The toothpaste might be out of the tube on this one, because there’s a large segment of the population that can’t or won’t travel that is now experiencing the benefits previously reserved for the ones with a travel budget.

  • Sanctioning/credentialing/authorizing.

    Probably pretty critical if your organization serves a population that needs to vet its participants. Are you helping your members capitalize on their authorization that makes it meaningful and recognized? Or are you just charging for a certificate whose value might fade along with the ink?

  • Exclusive access.

    Is the login delivering an experience they can’t find anywhere else? An “in” with exclusive networks, timely research, an engaged community? Or is it nothing more than a way for them to update their own member information so you don’t have to allocate member service time to these types of “self-serve” functions.

  • Discounts.

    Are they really discounts, or can your members get the same (or better) pricing by walking up to the counter and asking, or doing a Google search and finding it online?

  • Advocacy.

    Absolutely critical. But are you actively listening to your constituency (back to surveys again!) and speaking in their voice? Or do you think you know what’s best for them without really asking (and potentially getting out of alignment)?

  • Third party partner programs.

    What organization doesn’t love those non-dues dollars. But they come at a cost, and if you’re not being a good steward and carefully vetting your partners, you’ll find your reputation tarnished and your members defecting. Will you advocate on the member’s behalf if they have been mistreated or misunderstood? The best partnerships go both ways: be a good partner to your partners. Help them make the best possible offer to the segment of your audience that will really benefit.

Check yourself.

Visit your member recruitment pages. Study other organizations for ideas (both good AND bad). We recently came across a “member benefit” page for an organization claiming to be a “premier” organization. The only benefit listed was a link to a generic auto insurance quote page. We hate to embarrass people, so we’re not posting the name or the link here.

Go through and experience your own member sign up process. Is it long and arduous to complete? Are you asking for information you really don’t need or use? Too many questions can be a barrier to entry, so be sure you are only asking for what you really need.

Read your own member welcome letter. Out loud. Are you rushing past the really meaningful benefits or services, just to have a lot of bullet points under “Member Benefits”?

Member Value isn’t determined by word count, but by words that count.

A short list under “Member Benefits” doesn’t have to mean that membership doesn’t deliver value. Quite the contrary, frankly. It means that you know what you do well, and you are committed to delivering an exceptional experience for a defined audience.

Member (and staff) satisfaction comes from having an experience that meets, and hopefully exceeds, expectations. If you’re trying to boil the ocean, something will fall short. A better approach: do fewer things flawlessly, for the audience you know.

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