Success! Your chamber has managed to attract new members. But what next? Holding on to your members is as crucial a task as acquiring them, and can be daunting. Making sure you provide value with your membership package is an obvious necessity, but in times of change and accelerated digital growth how can you stay on top of the trends?
We all know that membership is critical for the success and future sustainability of chambers and associations. Paying members will expect tangible benefits from your chamber that reflect the value of their annual membership subscription, so providing this value and improving it as member needs and challenges evolve is a fundamental tenet of chamber functions.
A research publication from ASAE Press assessed the importance of different individual field-wide benefits of memberships to people who were thinking of joining.
|The highest-rated individual benefits were: • Networking • Access to current information on one’s field • Professional development||The highest-rated field benefits were: • Promotion of the field • Creation of standards & codes of ethics • Advocacy|
The study shows that these benefits are the lifeblood of any chamber success, attracting and retaining new members, and the areas where you should be injecting value the most. But in today's rapidly changing society where new generations of members have higher expectations than before, how are chambers to provide meaningful value that keeps members engaged? The following tips should guide you through providing and improving membership value.
|Embrace Digital Transformation Prioritize Communication Listen Stay Human Outline Your Goals Be Fast Get to Know Your Members Implement Tiered Dues Segment Memberships Inject Variety into Your Events Make Events Accessible From Afar Tailor Your Events Innovate Offer Benefits||Improve Their SEO Have Expert Customer Service Give Members Control Over their Info Take Them To School Think Quality Not Quantity Update Your Design Provide Meaningful Support Offer Exclusive Promotions Recruit Volunteers from Your Community Post Job Opportunities Map Membership Progress Say Thank You Communicate Your Value|
Assessing and implementing digital methods to support and improve membership processes is the best way to stay relevant and valuable to your members. In an environment where advances in technology mean that business owners and stakeholders can find digital tools that could potentially replace the benefits of a chamber membership, digital transformation is essential. Dues-paying members will expect chambers to have a well-established website and social media, updated mobile apps, and digital tools to create an impressive web presence.
As Richard Gott, the Founder of The MemberWise Network, puts it: “The membership and association sector is waking up to the fact that future long-term member value and growth requires a deeper focus on online membership experience and engagement”
Use blogs, forums, wiki and collaboration pages, and micro-blogging features to ensure information is readily available for your members. Members can interact with your Chamber and update their preferences easily with quizzes and surveys. A two-way communication pool will increase the membership value significantly as members feel listened to and catered for. Be attentive and prove that you know what your members want by implementing their suggestions and recognizing their needs. Don’t be afraid of constructive criticism!
Listening is a critical part of a two-way communication system. Members will often ask for what they need or want and implementing their desires will be a surefire way of proving your worth to them.
A faceless automaton running a chamber is not a good look, and members will lose interest in their membership if they feel as though the chamber is inhuman and impersonal. Members would rather hear from their Chamber’s too much rather than not at all. Provide information on a daily basis, whether it be through social media, email marketing, blogs, newsletters, or RSS feeds, and make sure you maintain a human presence and likable attitude. The more they hear from you, the more they’ll be able to say about what it is you do for them - don’t keep all your correspondence virtual!
Broadcasting your goals and agenda will delineate your chamber’s focus and help members pinpoint exactly what it is your chamber does and what is useful to them.
Do not make members wait - members will expect responses to their concerns and queries fast. The first way to increase value is simply to increase the speed you deliver the kind of value members are paying for. The faster, the better. You will perceive a direct correlation between speed and efficacy and value.
Know your audience inside and out. Value can be subjective so it is imperative to hone in on your audience and understand what their marketing objectives are. Sometimes your events, marketing, and messages communicating value may be different depending on the kind of member you are trying to reach. Use surveys to keep on top of member concerns, desires, and ideas. Members will value a chamber more that actively wants to know them.
Some chambers will have a one-size-fits-all membership and that could work for them. But do your members have varied priorities? If so, implementing tiered dues will increase the value of your chamber membership. You could complete a member needs assessment to determine what is important to their success and what benefits are truly valuable to them. Build your membership levels accordingly. You will be able to see paradigms that will help you determine what benefits are most valuable to members at different stages of growth. Assess the level of value you will provide for each tier and correspond value to cost.
If you choose this approach, your association needs to use targeted marketing that appeals directly to specific membership categories.
Segmenting your memberships allows you to send only targeted, relevant information to members with and across the different tiers already implemented. You could, for example, segment into small and large businesses, or allow members to choose the level of their subscription so that they only receive the information they really want.
Host events for different segmented members. Regularly orchestrate events that are helpful for members with larger organizations and host separate events for smaller, growing businesses in the area, ensuring each and every one of your members is gaining value that is specific and relevant to their needs and interests,
Host events and activities that are appropriate and in keeping with the times. An event that is targeted specifically at your audience’s needs will be a lot more valuable than a generic event such as a golf tournament. If you know some of your member’s businesses
Inject new life and spirit into the membership community by trying something new and unusual, whether this be throwing a different kind of event, hosting a blog or video series on your site, or something else. Keeping things exciting will energize your members and keep their interest hooked. You can brainstorm with anyone to find something fitting and exciting to try. You could even offer perks to the first ten businesses who tweet or share an idea with you.
These can be discounts, early bird registration for events, or useful information in the form of webinars or online material. Furthermore, offering affinity programs at reduced rates will save members time & money and show that they are investing in a membership that is abundant in ROI. These programs can include group benefits, payroll, insurance, merchant services, and other business cost reductions. Think if you could offer a product or service of good value at a lower price than usual. Making savings and providing valuable commodities to your members will prove to them that their membership is worthwhile again and again.
Your members with an online presence might sometimes struggle with SEO. Hosting links on your website that lead to theirs can improve their search rankings making them value their membership as it brings them more business.
Make sure your customer service is top-notch. People can be easily affected by friendliness and helpfulness, and equally affected by rudeness. Your customer service representatives have to leave a good impression and be easily accessible to attend to the needs of your members. Having a real person available to deal with any queries from your members in real-time is significantly more valuable than having a bot respond in place of a human.
Give members the opportunity to save themselves and your chamber time by allowing them to update their own information. This can be done according to their schedule and will benefit your admins too as they will not have to make multiple changes to every profile over the year. As more chambers add an internet presence and social media platforms, it is more efficient to have members update their listings accordingly.
Offer exclusive educational opportunities to your members. You are the proprietor of important economic information about your area that you can share on your site for member businesses to access. Keep a steady flow of blog posts, articles, webinars and other materials tailored to educate your member community in ways they wouldn’t be able to without your chamber.
Because nowadays information is easily accessible through the internet, the quality of the information you offer your members is of top priority. Quality is also whatever your members say it is, so listen to the kind of things they want to be accessing and provide it to them faster than is possible through other channels.
Do not underestimate the value of design. You can add value to a product or service by improving the design. Improve the design of your website and online content - such as blogs, emails, and social media - to make it more visually attractive and simple to use. Glue Up can help you in this way by making web design and updates easy!
Read our Email Examples article to see how versatile your engagement can get with Glue Up.
Focus on ways to help your members in acquiring customers, branding, selling and growing. In order to succeed in this, chambers must be dialed into the community through channels, social media, business relationships, and best practice advising. Jeff Motter, CEO, and chief marketing officer of East Bay Marketing Group says “To give real value and actually help the members, I think it's imperative to provide information and resources that teach them how to attract customers in the real world. Get people who know how to generate qualified leads, convert them and repeat the process at-will to come in and show them how to work on their business, not in it.”
Promotion opportunities such as allowing member businesses to post discounts on your chamber website for your members to use not only brings revenue to the businesses, but also provides perks for the other chamber members. Having this online community as a secure environment in which to offer deals additionally makes your website more appealing.
Offer positions within the chamber - volunteering positions or even jobs within the chamber can allow members to give back and feel involved, whilst placing them at the center of a networking opportunity. For example, having members volunteer to deliver chamber directories door-to-door will allow them to benefit from connecting with 100s of Chamber members directly.
Have an online job board or career center. Helping members search for jobs in the area or allowing them to sign up for alerts for when new positions become available adds another dimension to your chamber website that makes it valuable to your members. In addition, you could allow member businesses to post jobs on your site, facilitating a hiring process that can otherwise be very costly.
Show that you really care about individuals by sending updates and emails about their progress within the chamber. Congratulate them on birthdays, joining anniversaries, and other special events. Showing that you value them will result in them valuing your chamber a lot more.
Acknowledge and reward your stars. Whether it’s employees or members with the largest number of referrals, make sure that they know they are appreciated and an asset to your chamber. Letting members know that they are integral to the success of your chamber will increase their sense of value for their membership.
Explain to your members in direct terms what the tangible value they will gain through their membership. Communicating value is sometimes just as crucial as offering value. Tell your members what company, sector and business size will attend certain events, how many attendees are expected and what they will walk away with at the end of the day. Remind them frequently of the networking and professional development opportunities you can offer, and direct them to the informational and educational benefits your chamber offers.
Interested in learning more about how you can improve your member's experience from the moment they discover you? Book a Demo with Glue Up and see how our platform engages and satisfies your members and potential members from end-to-end.