Members or Customers: How to Leverage Your Whole Universe
by Max, on October 3, 2018
The premise of association membership is in a state of metamorphosis. Many clients approach us with the question of how to adapt as more and more associations are looking to challenge the status quo with new models. The race for data collection and analysis is on – all to better understand the needs and wants of your members and shape offerings accordingly. Perhaps your membership is flat or even declining. Before you rush to a new model you may want to expand your thinking to consider your “customers” as an untapped and promising revenue source.
While members contribute great value to associations beyond annual dues – the most salient being the knowledge and expertise they contribute in the form of education and professional development – you already have other customers that are engaged with you. Long overlooked, this audience is ripe for engagement. Who are these customers?
In reality all members are customers. Members are simply your primary audience of customers. But a secondary audience includes non-members that attend your meetings, participate in webinars, purchase your publications, etc. These customers simply engage transactionally with you. Traditional thinking makes this audience a prime for conversion to membership. A great strategy but not the only strategy. A shift in mindset allows you to develop a plan to accelerate their engagement through increased transactions. As an example, a non-member who attends your Annual Meeting every three years has the potential to increase participation to every two years or possibly annually. To maximize their engagement (and revenue potential) you need to better understand their needs and preferences and reach out to them in targeted, customized communications that demonstrate relevant value. Think “people like me” and introduce them to other products and services they may be interested in based on your analysis and identification of various profiles or “personas.”
Bottom-line results of better targeting customers with the offerings they seek? A bigger community of advocates, more incremental revenues, and a resource for potential conversion to full membership.