Mutually beneficial relationships
Most successful relationships are those which enjoy mutual benefit so its important to understand what’s in it for them as well as what’s in it for you. The best place to start is asking why do members (or why would prospective members) want/need to be a member of your organisation and what value do they place on the relationship?
In certain cases membership is either a pre-requisite (regulatory) or an expectation of a chosen career. Where membership is a validation of their expertise then it’s important for the organisation to be seen to be investing in the growth of that expertise through providing valuable content, opportunities to train and further their careers and undertake CPD. In the case of regulatory bodies, putting official reference documents such as codes of conducts into members hands and keeping them updated as to news, developments, research, complaint outcomes etc helps to reinforce your connection.
Where membership is a marketing tool to promote their business, it’s vital for the membership body to provide promotional tools and opportunities. Prompting them to engage with these marketing opportunities and encouraging them to get the most out of their membership by updating their directory listing, augmenting it with case studies, testimonials etc should result in a win-win outcome.
Feeding the results of business opportunities you’ve helped to generate back to members reminds them of the value of membership. Providing a member report, or dashboard on their members area that communicates messages such as ‘your business listing was displayed in x number of directory searches this month’ and ‘you received x number of enquiries through your directory listing this year’ can help to prove ROI and increase the sense that you are working on their behalf.
The members champion
Many membership organisations are responsible for championing their members and representing the collective voice at government level. Where this is the case, it’s important for these interactions to be visible. Where there’s opportunity for some publicity, make sure you’re well positioned to optimise that. When there’s a positive outcome make sure that you report on that in as many ways as possible (website, email, social media etc). Again, it’s important to remind members of the valuable work you undertake on their behalf wherever and whenever possible.
Members often belong to an organisation for the support they can provide in difficult circumstances. Communicating stories of how you have helped other members (anonymised as appropriate or simply statistics) can reinforce the sense that they have somebody on their side should the going ever get tough (whilst proving that the going often gets tough!).
The benefits of membership can be vast and varied. Sometimes these have a monetary value which can be recorded and represented back to the member ‘you’ve enjoyed £x savings/ £x in discounts with your member benefits this month/year’ which when placed alongside the cost of membership should increase the perceived value of their investment. Again, encouraging members to make the most of their benefits is key in ensuring mutual benefit is achieved.
A vision for the future
It’s really important to give your members a sense of a better future, now more than ever. Providing them with help in navigating the present is important, but giving them a vision for how you can move into the future together will help to secure their confidence and loyalty in the years to come. Publishing strategy and plans can help with that, as can having a good forthcoming calendar of events and training opportunities that they can get involved with.