Value Propositions, Innovation and Engagement Get People to Join/Renew

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In my Q&A with Matt Bailey last week, I mentioned the exercise he had us all doing at BIMS one year: state your company’s definition—what-it’s-primarily-about—in six words. It really made you get rid of the excess language we tend to use, and think about your main revenue driver. 
 
I recall that because in Marketing General’s 2020 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report (download here), they say the following: “The first and most noteworthy condition for membership success is understanding and building the value proposition for your membership. The data shows that members join for networking with others in the field, continuing education, accessing specialized information, and learning best practices in their profession.”

They also say that “only about half of [organizations] consider their value proposition to be very compelling or compelling (48%). On the other hand, 42% find their organization’s value proposition to be only somewhat compelling.

That’s a bit staggering and in need of change. They add that the organizations gaining members are the ones who say that they do have a compelling or very compelling value proposition—obvious but still worth noting.
 
Here are more highlights from the report.
 
Even now—or maybe especially now—it’s important to encourage innovation. “Our data shows that a culture of innovation is the critical driver for creating member value. “Try something new or you’ll plateau and decline,” one respondent said. Again, those who have seen member gains “are significantly more likely to have a process in place for innovation and new ideas” and vice versa.

Amplify these areas. We all talk about wanting greater interaction with our audience/members/community. Here are four areas where respondents are seeing it: 

- the use of an organization’s mobile app;
- participation in social networks;
- webinar attendance; and
- participation in their young professionals programs.

Have a plan to engage. This is not a surprising one, but respondents have been consistent in sharing why they do not renew—a lack of engagement with the organization. “However, when associations establish an active program to engage members and increase their usage of benefits, membership retention increases. Almost 80% that have seen an improvement in renewals state that they have a tactical plan to increase engagement."
 
Get people talking. By quite a large margin, word-of-mouth recommendations is the best channel for acquiring new members. Email is second but its numbers have gone slightly down. Events/meetings came in next but this was pre-pandemic. 
 
Still have to try to facilitate networking. When asked for the top three reasons members join, 61% said “networking with others in the field.” Even on Zoom calls—as much as we all know that Zoom fatigue is real—you can see faces light up when they see people they haven’t seen in a while. And you can see the engagement they get from hearing colleagues talk about their experiences. 
 
Stand for something. In that same category, 25% said “supporting the mission of the organization.” And another 21% said supporting advocacy. Learning best practices in the field is also a common denominator of those organizations that have experienced recent growth. 
 
Offer toolkits. This came from one respondent: “Our largest source of new members comes from current members referring non-members to our organization. We provide toolkits, complete with links to resources, for our membership annually and encourage them to keep up the good work!”
 
Reach out and touch. One respondent wrote: “Personal touches make the most difference. The challenge is freeing staff from other tactics to make the calls and reach the members.”
 
Use your data. “We’ve modeled our prospects, scoring them with the likelihood to obtain our certification. This has allowed us significant savings on marketing costs after test results showed drastically higher response rates for the top scored prospects. There are so many fingerprints within data that people can use to identify the most likely to help meet the organization’s goals. Everyone should be tapping into this."
 
Again, download the report here.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…