As membership organisations look at ways to expand their reach, encompassing corporate membership can seem an obvious get-one, get-many strategy. In some cases the implications of what’s necessary to not only achieve growth through corporate membership but sustain it, have not been fully considered leading to significant drop-off in the first year of membership and alienating a potentially valuable connection.

The value of values

Alignment between your organisation and member organisations is critical and can only be achieved through successfully articulating and demonstrating shared vision, values and a mutually beneficial synergy. The positives of your partnership need to be obvious.

Understanding the value that you bring to their organisation is key. Whether they are proud members using their membership as a ‘badge of honour’ or those to whom membership is mandatory, this positioning can influence their appetite for engagement and the perceived value of membership.

Realising the areas in which membership of your organisation can add value to theirs is the cornerstone of any corporate membership engagement strategy. Are there things they should be doing and aren’t, are there expectations they struggle to meet given their resources which you could add weight to, reinforce of provide content and training on that would be valuable to their team or employees?

Understanding where you add value to your corporate members is key, but so too then is finding ways to measure that and feed that information back to them in a meaningful way. Reinforcing the value of membership is always a good thing to do, perhaps consider ways in which you can do this with your corporate members. Are there opportunities to capture data through your integrated website into your CRM that demonstrates the value? Where your website has a member directory, can you report back data on views, completions of forms to contact them, how many people from their organisation have viewed a key piece of content (trackable by IP address and/or login) etc.

Marketability

There may be areas which add to their marketability, where the association with your organisation has a wider social impact and influences their audience, for example in highlighting their altruistic nature or adding weight to their CSR commitments.

Companies can be asked about CSR initiatives and membership of overarching bodies as part of tendering for new business. It’s always helpful to track referrals, especially if you can provide them and play back the value of the relationship to the corporate member, encouraging them to engage further and experience even greater results.

In some cases being a corporate member may position them for success in securing business. If this is the case for you and your corporate members, there is some definite measurability for the ROI of membership which you should try wherever possible to document and interface back out to them.

A benefit of your alliance in providing corporate membership might be in enhancing the perception of employers investing in their employees, helping to attract and retain talent. Where this is the case its worth finding out from your corporate members how you can add further value in supporting their HR recruitment and retention efforts.

Communicating impact

Identifying the opportunities to add value to corporate membership and in some cases, repurpose or tailor what you’re doing for individuals to this group audience is a smart move!

For many of the organisations we work with, we provide a member dashboard which upon login represents back to the member (corporate or individual) the relevant benefits they have gained through their membership to date. Information to represent back to members can include; your work in improving professional standards, how you have campaigned, petitioned and lobbied on their behalf, how charitable work has been furthered, how many directory look-ups or referrals they have had through your website, the value of their attendance at events or training courses, the gaining of CPD points etc. Implementing solutions like this keeps the value of membership at the forefront of members minds when engaging with you.

In certain scenarios, corporate membership facilitates individual membership i.e. an individual member gains that status through being employed by a corporate member. That being the case it is important that the corporate member is notified of an individual’s application to join under them, and equally, make it easy for the corporate member to monitor member employees to inform you of any changes in their employment status and therefore right to access membership. The more you can empower your corporate members to do, the more active they will be and the less admin burden you will have to carry.

Corporate membership key stakeholder contacts can be made privy to information about their employees’ engagement with you, delivered in a dashboard unique to them. Providing them with insight as to their employees’ activities and engagement (reading articles, signing up for courses, watching webinars etc) can help inform a view which they might otherwise lack, and enable more proactive employee management.

Maintain and nurture

Maintaining the connection with members is critical. Having a communications strategy that plans the delivery of segmented and tailored content to the stakeholders you have access to will reinforce the value of membership whether its explicitly about the benefits of being a member, or implicit in the richness of the content.

Regularly communicating a Member Benefit Statement and an annual report on what you’ve achieved on the behalf of members, and/or how you’ve responded to member feedback can help to maintain a positive feeling towards your organisation. Consider the breadth of available formats, and what’s appropriate to your audience, how might you grab their attention and pique their interest to want to read more?

Making it personal 

The fact is, the more like individual membership you can make corporate membership the better. Essentially, every piece of communication is being received ultimately by an individual, the more we can learn about them and respond to their interests, the more likely we are to engage them and deepen the connection.

This also means that you have the opportunity to build ambassadors and promoters within your corporate members who can both champion your value within, and promote it to their peers, your prospective members.

By going the extra mile with communication, you are able to grow more meaningful relationships and reinforce your place in their world. In a nutshell, by segmenting your data to send personalised campaigns, you’ll achieve markedly more positive ROI. Recent stats cite that 83% of marketers that exceeded their goals in 2017 were using personalisation in their email campaigns and emails triggered by actions enjoy 8x more opens.