This is a question we have all pondered on from time to time. When we think of the organisations we know and work with, we realise that even though we offer value, we sometimes fail to bring to fruition all of the great ideas we might have. Many of our ideas could really increase the value that we offer to our members, whilst helping to develop a strong attraction for future members. So how do we work to offer more member value?
Due to the pressures of time, resources or financial restraints, taking the time to really study, analyse and act upon the needs of our members can take a back seat. However, benefits that are in line with modern modes of working and thinking could become a real game changer within your organisation and sector as whole. So how can we attempt to achieve this?
We need to think objectively, to imagine ourselves as a member, from their point of view, what would we want to see offered that could assist us in our working life and help us develop our career?. Of the many reasons that members join organisations, including to advance their knowledge, learn about the latest developments in their field and meet and network with other professionals, evidently training and official accreditation is by far the most important reason. So what can we do to enhance benefits in these areas?
Firstly, look at what your members want and what they would benefit from. They are, after all, your ambassadors. Interviewing members can give you a wealth of knowledge to work from. Interviewing a few members with some pertinent questions doesn't have to take much time and many will be happy to assist. You then have some great information by which to focus your decision making.
Secondly, when you have an idea of what members want, look at what you have available from within your membership family. Membership departments should make a point of utilising the extensive knowledge and expertise that their members and fellows have amassed over the years. There can be a great opportunity. By tapping into the minds of your membership you can bring out some real value. Who do we know that are thought leaders in the field? for example, how many experts, professors, researchers, business owners, authors and public speakers do you have amongst your membership?
Ask your members to expound their knowledge - asking a few of your members and fellows to provide some online talks, Q&A sessions, tutorials, webinars or stories is a great way to slowly build a valuable weekly timetable of online events for your members to tap into. Never underestimate the knowledge and expertise that is right at your fingertips from within your own membership. Some may have worked in the industry for many years and seen many changes come and go that have provided them with a view point that you cannot be learned in any other way. These are the members and fellows to listen to as the past can often help predict the future.
Virtual events - prove themselves to be convenient and informative, especially for members who couldn’t attend certain events due to location. Organisations have always worked hard to discover the best ways to boost member engagement and retention, especially during difficult times such as the Coronavirus pandemic, and this is where professional learning, mentoring and tutoring from your experienced members and fellows can have a great impact. Making a point of offering real knowledge of real experienced practices can become a great incentive for members to get involved, interact with each other and come away with a view on the industry they work in. This only works by offering content that your members will be genuinely interested in. It is much harder to engage members within an organisation that offers little relevance to their day to day lives and future careers. Look towards the goals of the members and the goals of the industry to provide real compelling relevance.
Bring nationalities together - whether your industry is Law, Finance, Medicine, Trade & Commerce, Operations or Teaching, bringing members together to share their experiences and best practices can become a great way to gain a wider perspective and the bigger picture overall. Providing you have the timings correct for your member online networking events, you could find members greatly benefit from commonalities. Chatting to a member about medicine in South Africa, about teaching in Germany or about the practice of Law in New York etc could be an amazing eye opener for many members. The use of online video platforms has brought with it the ability to talk to anyone across the globe at little cost.
Offer a Whatsapp group for special interests - by starting a Whatsapp group you will quickly find members joining in with the engagement. Try starting it off by posing a few questions to get it going and soon members will thrive in a space where the sharing of experiences and knowledge becomes the provider of benefit in itself. Connections are made across the industry and value comes with it.
Offer something different, by thinking of some simple, cost effective, fun ways to get your members engaged you can show that your organisation offers something to talk about beyond the industry chat. Try offering something different for them to experience once a month. Examples such as online cocktail making classes, wellbeing sessions, art classes and cooking classes have all proven to work well for company Christmas parties during the pandemic, so why not utilise the same ideas to bring your members together and have some fun.
Giving your members a variety of activities really gets them talking about what a great organisation it is that they belong to which in turn is great PR for you.
This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means but hopefully may act as a little inspiration when thinking about how to benefit members more in the months ahead. Remember, your CRM knowledge and ensuring your have a clean data set is critical to your success.
Think about your organisation’s unique position and the viewpoint of your members and you will be on your way to opening up some great opportunities for your members in the future.
Enjoy new member engagement, trend tracking, analysis and value. You can help shape your members' future.
Duncan Judd is has worked in the membership sector for over 15 years as Head of Membership for many organisations. More recently as founder of Happy Minds At Work, Duncan currently utilises his membership skills to increase membership numbers/ subscribers to his online wellbeing service and helps develop wellbeing solutions for membership organisations and business alike.