I’m sure many of you have seen the movie Up in the Air, and may recall the scene in which George Clooney and Vera Farmiga engage in flirtations stimulated by the swapping premium membership cards in a hotel lounge.
"We're two people who get turned on by cheap loyalty cards”, Farmiga suggests.
"There's nothing cheap about loyalty”, Clooney replies.
I’m inclined to agree with Clooney on this one and think it’s especially relevant in the context of professional bodies looking to retain the loyalty of new and existing members.
Attracting new members to your professional institute or society is challenging, but retaining them can prove even more difficult.
What does your organisation offer that makes members want to join in the first place? Well, regardless of industry, size and clout, the answer is almost always the same. Professional bodies offer exclusive, members-only benefits comprising of access to the latest publications, education, advocacy, a journal or magazine, leadership opportunities, networking and career assistance.
Some join because an employer insists on it, others for educational support but new and existing members will always look for added value from their membership fee, something extra above and beyond the general offering.
A member benefits programme not only provides additional value to your membership package, it delivers tangible benefits to members & their families which can be used time and again thus re-inforcing your brand and securing loyalty from your members.
If your organisation has not yet implemented a member benefits programme and you’re unsure about its efficacy, consider these 5 key benefits in determining if it’s a worthwhile option for you.
1. Member benefits programmes are cost effective
You might be concerned that initiating a members benefits programme will draw too heavily on your existing resources. According to Invespcro, pursuing a new member is likely to be five times more expensive than keeping an existing one so in truth, even the resources you spend on implementing the programme will significantly pale in comparison to the expense of finding new members
2. Introducing a programme increases renewals
If you create your programme with your members at the heart of it and make them aware of the benefits through ongoing strategic marketing, three things are likely to happen. First, members are more likely to attribute increased value and prestige to your membership. Second, members are more willing to try and rely on those discounts and services that you offer and third, renewal rates will increase as members are unwilling to let the incentives go.
3. Offering something unique differentiates you from the competition
If you’re striving to establish a clear value proposition as to why a member should join your organisation rather than another in your field, a member benefits programme can help you do this. The key to this is establishing a hero offer within your programme, something absolutely unique to you that your members truly value, and owning it.
4. You can establish partnerships with recognised brands
In offering relevant benefits to your members, you can partner with brands that are of high interest to your members professionally but also personally. Offering incentives such as travel, retail, technology and lifestyle discounts that appeal to members outside the scope of their professional life not only helps you to create a deeper relationship with your member, it also opens up opportunities for your organisation to create deeper partnerships with other companies and brands.
5. You get a deeper relationship with your members
By offering incentives, you are sending a message to your members that you are not just there to collect the fees but that you’re truly interested in building a relationship with them that is mutually beneficial. You’ll get to see how your members interact with your programme and over time, which incentives matter most to your customers and what really motivates them to remain a member.
There are many good examples of relevant member benefits programmes in Ireland such as the ICA, IFA, Insurance Institute of Ireland, Chartered Accountants Ireland to name a few. Membership of professional bodies in Ireland is alive and well but you’ve got to skilfully recruit members who will remain members throughout their careers. To do this, you’ve got to over-deliver on their expectations. When you achieve this, those members become your brand advocates, recommending your organisation to colleagues and peers.