I was at the ASAE Marketing, Membership, and Communication Conference last week and sat through a very thought provoking session called "Rise of the Digital Member" given by Maddie Grant of Socialfish and Jeff De Cagna of Principled Innovation.
It was a great session on the different member and non-member personas that associations will find in the digital world. In the session, Maddie and Jeff would play a video of a persona and then the audience would have to develop ideas for how we would engage them to become a member. This got me thinking, membership management in the association world is still member vs. non-member. Maybe in this day and age, this model needs to be rethought.
It used to be that you became a member and the association gave you a magazine, a conference, and advocacy (maybe). There are so many other options these days that an association could give, maybe being a member could mean different benefits based on what a person would find valuable.
So here is my sample 2011 Membership Program for a new generation of forward-thinking associations:
There will be people who only want to communicate with your organization via the web. They want access to your forums, read your blogs and want to networking with other online members. These people may never see the benefit of a magazine or an in-person meeting, but get a ton of value from your online community and web resources. If that is what they want, break out your online benefits to accommodate this type of member.
There are people who enjoy the face-to-face meetings that your organization offers. Give those, that value the face-to face benefits, the ability to buy an "events membership" for them to come to all the events you offer.
There will be some members that would love to come to a face-to-face meeting but budget and time may not allow them to. These members value education, but in a place and time convenient to them. Provide a membership to those people to access webinars and recordings.
There will always be those people that want all of the benefits your association has to offer, and you certainly want a package that will give them everything your organization has to offer.
To me, it seems like in this day and age, with 4 different generations in the workforce and different benefits being offered by associations, new membership models should be considered. This may not work for all groups, but when trying to meet the needs of today's members it cannot be business as usual.
With an increasing amount of value that associations provide coming from the tools, content, and community on their website, membership organizations can use the groups and permission setting in their online community platform to efficiently offer new membership programs to increase engagement beyond traditional "all or nothing" membership models.
(photo credit: jencu)