Quiz time. How well do you really know the members of your association? Do you know why they joined, or what they hope to get in return for their membership dues?
If your association’s membership growth is declining, plateauing or not increasing at the rate you’d hoped, it may be time for an honest evaluation of your value proposition to both prospective and existing members.
Check out this example of an association that does a great job delivering on its value proposition to several different member subsets.
With roots dating back to 1942, less than a decade after prohibition, the Brewer’s Association continues to offer tremendous value to a membership of approximately 50,000. Clearly, this association has managed to stay relevant to a great number of people for many decades.
Here’s how: This association understands that the best way to provide truly valuable resources to their members is by personalizing experiences for their diverse population. That’s why they offers six unique membership types, each one customized to provide relevant content to a narrowly defined audience.
Take a quick look at that list. You don’t have to be a beverage connoisseur to imagine how each segment benefits from a tailored membership experience. What’s of interest to a craft beer retailer, for example, won’t necessarily be relevant to a brewery in planning.
Membership segmentation like this comes at a cost. It requires an investment in technology and relevant, high-quality content that many associations haven’t considered, or aren’t adequately equipped to support. Once your association identifies unique learning and development opportunities for multiple membership types, it must be prepared to consistently deliver those experiences over time.
Although we aren’t affiliated with the Brewer’s Association, we’re very familiar with the advantages of using learning technology like they do. Based on our work with similarly unique associations, a learning management system (LMS) is the most obvious, cost-effective solution for delivering custom content to multiple member types. So, what is an LMS, and how can associations use one to drive and retain membership?
The answer is simple. Think of an LMS as an online, educational resource library that houses and distributes all of your learning and development content. Members log in using their computers or mobile devices, then, based on their membership type, gain access to a selection of continuing education material, certification assessments and other resources curated just for them. The beauty of using an LMS is the ability to easily split your users into categories in order to build a more targeted, relevant and valuable membership experience for each group.
This builds your membership in two ways:
Of course, an educational resource library is nothing without – you guessed it – valuable content! Valuable content for an association could be anything that enriches members’ lives, helps them stay competitive within their industries or that positively impacts their futures. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Right along with professional development, networking is a huge membership driver for most associations. Use your knowledge resources to encourage and facilitate ongoing discussion among members. You could even host an online member forum through your LMS.
Your association can also use its LMS to track how members are engaging with every piece of content in your educational resource library. This gives you the insight to understanding what your members are interacting with and what they find most relevant. Use this information to deliver more of the content your members want.
Anybody can conduct a quick Google search and come up with thousands of articles, videos or images covering any subject imaginable. Your learning and development content needs to stand out above the clutter. Work together with other industry leaders to commission original research or scholarly articles. But don’t stop there. Once you have a robust library of top-tier content, make it shine! A talented instructional design team can bring your content to life in ways your members won’t be able to resist.
Chances are, your association also hosts a series of live events, workshops or conferences throughout the year. Not only can you use your educational resource library to drive registration, you can also capture the experience and make it available online for members who were unable to attend. You spend good money on planning and hosting live events for your members. Why not maximize your investment by giving your events and resources a longer shelf life?
In order for an association to acquire and maintain members, it must be prepared to communicate and deliver an enriching membership experience. This requires two equally important components.
We have more than 15 years of experience helping associations grow. Our eLearning solutions not only help enhance the member experience, they help make work a little faster and easier for educational staff of associations.
We’d love to provide you the advantage of a flexible and cost-effective means to offer more value to your membership. No matter what stage you’re at with considering an online resource center, we can advise you on what to do and where to start. We’re here if you need us!