In recent years, the meaning of association membership benefits has undergone a radical transformation.
Since the onset of the pandemic, it has become an oft-discussed topic at association team meetings. Benefits that were once attractive, are no longer appealing to members. Cocktail dinners, large-scale in-person events, and swag bags are out.
Now, members are looking for value that goes beyond mixers and they want to be able to enjoy that value from the comfort of their homes.
But before we discuss what makes good membership benefits in 2022, let’s define what they are.
Association membership benefits are the perks that an organization offers to its members in exchange for their membership fee. Every association offers similar basic benefits: professional networking, event tickets at a discount, access to industry resource materials, etc. These are all great, but they’re also part of the problem– if everyone is offering the same benefits, why should someone choose to become a member of your association over all the others?
That’s why a well-designed membership benefit strategy is so important. It will help you achieve three things:
Let’s take a look at how you can upgrade your association membership strategy to stay relevant in 2022. Read on for a compilation of benefits that will appeal to this new breed of members.
Online discussion forums facilitate asynchronous communication. Travel restrictions and social distancing norms have made such forums a necessity. Here are a few more reasons to consider this benefit:
Download this e-book and learn how to create a winning engagement that results in meaningful interactions for your community and business results for you
Professional certifications enable members to upskill themselves, land a new job, get promoted, or take on new projects.
Unfortunately, professional certifications sometimes come at a steep price. Be sure to connect with external partners to provide industry certifications at a discounted price.
Here are some reasons you should include certifications in your association membership package:
Providing on-demand learning resources is another great strategy to grow association memberships. There are two ways you can offer these– you can create courses in collaboration with members who are experts in a subject. Or, you can work with external partners to integrate their courses into your association membership program. Learning resources offer the following benefits:
Everyone needs a mentor. A brain to pick, an ear to listen, a push in the right direction. Association members are no different. They’re looking for ways to:
Be sure to organize your mentorship program in a structured way.
It’s basic human nature to want to feel connected with our communities. Provide this opportunity to members by giving them access to networking virtual and hybrid events you organize. Through these events, members can safely meet new people, engage with them, learn from them, and form lasting relationships.
A few types of events that your association membership program can give access to are:
Use these three best practices while engaging association members in 2022
Networking is one of the main reasons people sign up for association memberships. By offering member directories, you give association members access to:
They can also use this directory to identify members who can assist them with any challenges.
Directories help members find relevant contacts without the need for extensive research. A detailed, robust directory can be one of the star benefits of your association membership program.
Access to a job board allows job seekers to find viable opportunities. Members hiring for various roles can post job ads and search for suitable candidates. You can also post job openings from external recruiters. This gives job seekers a broader pool of jobs to consider and apply for.
Organize volunteer programs for members to take part in. This is a good membership benefit to offer for several reasons:
Industry research papers are usually hard to find in the public domain. Access to these reports usually comes at a steep price. Your association membership can give members exclusive access to industry reports and help them:
One of the biggest strategies to growing association memberships is to offer member discounts and perks through corporate brand partnerships. Some benefits that can be a part of your association membership program include:
Use these proven strategies to attract and engage sponsors at virtual events
In-person events are slowly coming back, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty. New COVID-19 variants and travel restrictions are constantly forcing organizations to change their plans. Also, audiences have gotten comfortable with virtual interaction. According to UTA, 75% of consumers surveyed said they plan to attend virtual music or gaming events post-COVID-19.
It’s time to invest in virtual platforms from a long-term perspective. Leverage virtual solutions to attract members and keep them engaged year-round.
Education and training is the second-highest reason for members to join an association. The remote world has given people more time to invest in themselves and their growth. They are choosing learning and growth opportunities more than before.
Make sure to provide opportunities that ease this growth. Connect with partners. Provide discounts. Provide insight from expert speakers. Do whatever it takes to show your members you care about their growth.
Networking is the number one reason people choose association memberships.
Provide association members with ways to identify and reach out to relevant people. You can do this through virtual event platforms that provide detailed attendee profiles. Giving members a member directory is another way to ease networking. You can also organize entertainment-focused events to break up the monotony of remote work.
Safety is a major concern for both event organizers and attendees. That’s why event organizers must take ample precautions and make safety a top priority. Smaller-sized events, on-site rapid testing, no-touch registration, and emergency health services are some ways to make a live audience feel safe.
But wherever possible, plan for virtual events rather than in-person events. This will eliminate the need to spend more money on safety planning. Also, it takes out of the equation the risk of needing to cancel an event for safety reasons.
Asynchronous communication is not new. Emails have always been a form of async communication. But now an increasing number of people are choosing asynchronous communication. One of the reasons for this shift is that many people now work remotely and they have started to feel the pressure of being “always-on.”
Incorporate this behavioral shift into your larger strategy to grow association membership. Members are likely to respond better to activities that allow them to engage in their own time. Online discussion forums, weekly newsletter updates, and on-demand learning programs are examples of asynchronous activities you can organize for your members.
So next time you’re left wondering, “How do I grow my association’s membership in 2022,” think of it in these ways.
Association membership strategy is all about providing tangible benefits. Benefits that give members a return on their investment and accelerate their professional growth. The key to growing your association’s membership is reaching the right audience, encouraging them to sign up for these benefits, and creating an offer they can’t refuse.