A Process to help Define Member Value

The last couple of weeks I have met with a number of organizations that are re-focusing on defining their membership value proposition.

It is a smart thing to do because it is so easy in life to get lost in the trees of urgent matters and not see the forest. When we are selling membership, stepping back and seeing the big picture is essential. That’s because members want a clear and concrete reason to join and continue their membership.

So I wanted to share a quick three step group or team exercise that I use to help get re-focused on the big picture and big value that you deliver to your members. Here it is:
  1. Define and list all the features of membership. Yes, start with the trees not the forest. Put as many features of membership on the list as come to mind. It helps to hold and touch these features. So to help lay your tangible member benefits on the table. For those that are not tangible, print out descriptions of them from you web site to make them more tangible. One feature on your list, for example, might be your job bank another might be the membership social network.

  2. Assign benefits to the list of features. As a next step, write down the key benefit(s) that the product or service provides to a member. Be specific. For example, a professional association job bank means members access a trusted source to identify jobs specifically in their field. A social network means members can instantly connect with professional colleagues who can assist them with a particular problem or need.

  3. Connect the dots. Now that you have a long list of features and benefits, the next step is consolidating them into simple and concrete value statements. It is useful to center benefits around one of life’s BIG three motivators: Pain, Gain, and Fear. So, for example, a member can gain by joining because she is in the know about the top jobs in your field and is regularly connected to the prominent networkers in the field who can help her advance her career. Membership helps you get ahead faster.

This value exercise does not need to take a long time. And you do not need to bring in a facilitator. Why don’t you take a few hours to try this with your colleagues and post a comment on how it went?

Upcoming Membership Marketing Benchmarking Presentations

For readers who are located in the Washington DC metro area, I wanted to let you know that I will be doing three separate presentations on our Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report this month.

The first session is at the Alexandria Brownbag lunch on Thursday, October 15, 2009. It begins at 11:30 and concludes at 1:30. The location is Marketing General Inc, 209 Madison Street, Third Floor, (corner of North Fairfax and Madison), Alexandria, VA. Admission is free.

The second is at the Direct Marketing Association of Washington, Association Day Conference on Wednesday, October 28, 2009. The location is the Capital Hilton Hotel, 1001 16th Street NW, Washington, DC. My session is from 3:45. Paid pre-registration is required.

The third is at the October 2009 Reston Idea Swap on Thursday, October 29, 2009. It begins at 3:00 and concludes at 5:00. The location is Veris Consulting, LLC, 11710 Plaza America Drive, Suite 300, Reston, VA 20190. Admission is free.

I would enjoy meeting you if you can make one of these meetings.

The Growth of Loyalty Membership Programs

The other day, I received a question from one of the readers of this blog about the number of members in loyalty programs. I was able to access some excellent data and wanted to share it with you.

For background, membership loyalty programs are marketing initiatives to retain and reward customers. They can be offered by major retailers or financial service companies or by your local barber shop. The goal of these programs is to move customers from a transactional relationship to a continuity relationship. Loyalty memberships are cousins to association memberships, sharing many of the same strategies, tactics and analytics.

The source of this data is drawn from The 2009 Colloquy Loyalty Marketing Census.

“For those interested in the bottom line, this report reveals that, from 2006 to 2008, U.S. loyalty program memberships increased from 1.341 billion to 1.807 billion—an adjusted growth rate of nearly 25 percent since our last Census. This number translates into 14.1 loyalty program memberships per U.S. household.”[1]

However, since most loyalty memberships do not require a regular renewal, there is a big difference between the actual number of members and those who are actively engaged with the brand. “The percentage of overall active memberships in the U.S.—those memberships that demonstrate some type of engagement within a 12-month period—remains flat at 43.8 percent, with a blended average of 6.2 active memberships per household.”[2]

The census also provided counts for US membership loyalty programs by sectors. The top five are:

  • Financial Services – 422.0 million

  • Airline – 277.4 million

  • Specialty Retail – 191.3 million

  • Hotel – 161.9 million

  • Grocery – 153.2 million[3]

When I teach about membership marketing, I focus on the five key touch points in the membership lifecycle. Each has its own challenges and opportunities. For many classic membership associations, recruitment is the number one challenge.
Based on this report, the challenge for building loyalty memberships is not so much recruiting new members, but in engaging them and getting them to take advantage of the membership. Using the report’s definition for engagement -- no interaction over the past year -- over 56 percent of the names in a loyalty member database are not active.

If you would like to download a copy of the report, here is the link for registration and download.

[1] Rick Ferguson and Kelly Hlavinka, The 2009 Colloquy Loyalty Marketing Census, Loyalty One, page 1.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid. page 5.