The Secret to Retention? Give Members the Benefits they WANT

By Colleen Bottorff | member retention, Small Staff Chatter

Most members see value in membership directly from the benefits they get for paying dues. It feels transactional, but it makes sense! That’s what the majority of new members see upfront, and hopefully, once they start to engage all of the other, non-tangible benefits will come to light.

But even a little way down the road, after two or three years of membership, those benefits can start to feel a little less valuable. That’s why it’s important to always consider not only the benefits you’re offering, but the way members can access them. What do we mean?

A new perspective on benefits

Traditionally, members haven’t had much of a choice in the benefits they receive when they join. Many associations have one overarching benefits package, and a lot of chambers assign benefits based on the number of employees that the member organization has.

But these days, people are a little more accustomed to having experiences that are more personal to them, and their needs and wants. That should translate to your benefits, too!

Because let’s face it: benefits are not a one-size-fits-all situation. A member who is just starting out in their career needs a lot more support than a member who was just named CEO. A member organization that operates franchises has WAY different needs than a local dentist.

And as their careers and businesses – even your entire industries – evolve, so will those needs.

Now, we all know that the more engaged a member is, the more likely they are to renew, right? And in order to be happily engaged, members have to be getting the value they expect out of their membership…value that is, often, translated through benefits.

It’s time to give benefits control to your members

Moving forward, consider how you can give your members more benefits – and, more importantly, more control over the benefits that they receive in exchange for dues. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Membership levels If your organization doesn’t already operate with membership levels, this could take some leg work – but it’d be SO worth it. The idea behind membership levels is offering members a few package options that increase in benefits and dues. Members are much more likely to be satisfied and engaged when they’re able to opt into a package that works best for them.
  • Membership types
    How many young professional members do you have? Retired? Student? Find segments in your membership that make sense, and then create a few new options just for them! This could be an entire benefits package or an extra package that can be added to their overarching one.
  • A la carte offerings
    Similarly – what other benefits could you offer on a one-off basis? VIP treatment at events, an extra conference room reservation, a specific mention in your weekly newsletter, etc. are all things that can be easily offered for an extra fee. 
  • Sponsorship packages Another easy option is adding more benefits into sponsorship packages. That’ll increase the value of membership and sponsorship! Go to your most tenured, loyal member sponsors and see what they would suggest adding to your sponsorship opportunities.

Consider how one, two, or all four of these things might add value to the membership at your association or chamber. And ask a few members what they think, too – you might be surprised!

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