Don’t Play Hard to Get: How Can Associations Ensure That Members Know Their Benefits

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There are reasons why members join an association in the first place and reasons why they renew. If members know about and use all the benefits that come with their membership, it’s far more likely that they will find the membership valuable.

Having a great membership package can lead to more engagement, more loyalty, and more renewals. However, as members may be overwhelmed with information overload on top of their packed schedules, it can be challenging for them to keep your membership benefits top of mind.

So how can you communicate these benefits to members effectively? On one hand, you don’t want to bombard them with messages; and on the other hand, you want your members to not only know about your benefits, but also use them. This is assuming that your association has placed quality over quantity in the benefits offered, as that is an essential first step. With too many benefits, it will be difficult for members to experience them all.

The following information covers some of the ways your association can communicate the benefits with impact, in order to get members interested, excited, and engaged.

Hone Your Messaging

Whenever you communicate anything to your members, you need to ensure the message hits home. For that to happen, messages need to present value. Members must have a reason to read the piece and take it seriously. You also need communication to be clear and concise. This will encourage members to read it, retain the information, and take it seriously.

For communications to be truly effective, they need a memorable quality. When it comes to member benefits, you want members to remember what they are. Communications on the topic should be infused with value, clarity, and concision, along with uniqueness and a narrative if possible. Consider adding a memorable story or a relatable anecdote with your communications. Your communications need credibility as well; members need to believe that the benefits are as advertised or else they’ll simply ignore them. Finally, be as transparent as possible. Avoid advertising anything that isn’t part of the package. Be upfront about any perceived obstacles or possible challenges when claiming a benefit to avoid any issues later on.

Speak Their Language

One of the best ways to explain benefits to members for them to understand and appreciate the message is through customization. Every benefit carries a different weight for different people, so your goal should be to individually demonstrate value in the most meaningful way. Now, catering every benefit to each individual member is likely impossible, but you may consider customizing benefits for specific demographics or member groups.

Another way your association might execute this is to prepare a benefit map for members. You may send this out when they first join or post it on the member benefit page. By way of a map, you can lay out the typical member journey with your association based on career, membership level, or professional level. Illustrate how each individual member might go about using each of the benefits at different points. This will help users relate to your offerings and make the content more memorable.

Have Multiple Touch Points

If your association wants members to know about the benefits available to them, you need to remind them. When they first sign up, most associations present the registrant with a member benefit package, but you shouldn’t stop there. Create a benefits page on your website that clearly outlines and defines each individual benefit. Send out reminders in weekly or monthly newsletters. If you track what benefits your members use and what they don’t, consider grouping members together and sending them targeted advertisements about unused benefits. You can also leverage social media to communicate with your members.

Unused benefits are unused value for members, so don’t shy away from discussing them whenever you can. Leave some time at the end of your service calls to remind members about a benefit they may have overlooked or integrate these talks into your online discussions. It may sound like a lot, but these reminders usually come over the course of several months to a year. The more value your members can squeeze out of their membership, the more likely they will remain a member. No one wants to discover that they’ve missed a valuable opportunity when it’s too late.

Communicate One Specific Benefit at A Time

When trying to get members to use their benefits, it’s best not to throw everything at them at once. Instead, try zeroing in on one benefit at a time. You may consider a “Benefit of the Month” plan and highlight the details of one particular — ideally underused — member benefit. You can send it out in your monthly newsletters or post it on your website, really anywhere that gets regular traffic. You may also try posting about the benefit on social media or running a targeted ad campaign.

Explain what the benefit is and why it’s important. Explain clearly how your members can access the benefit and all that it entails. You can also try highlighting member stories to bring attention to a benefit. Share details on how a member is currently using the benefit. Showcasing peer-to-peer testimonials will help members remember the benefit in the long-term. Another useful tactic with this strategy is to further improve the benefit. If you offer a discounted price with a partner organization, try discounting it even more for a limited period of time. This might be enough to increase interest in the benefit or, at least, make it noteworthy and memorable.

Don’t Be Afraid to Pivot

Perhaps the most important part of a membership benefit promotional strategy is to know when to make changes. If a membership benefit is largely underused by members and you’ve explored the tips above, it may just be that your members don’t see value in the opportunity. That’s a reality for most associations and one that some struggle to come to terms with. In this situation, it may be time to pivot. Before taking the next step and abandoning that benefit, however, try promoting it a few more times. If nothing changes, you know what to do.

The logical next step is to replace the underutilized benefit with something more useful. Perhaps ask your members other benefits they would like to see, or do some research and see what organizations your members are drawn toward. This will help you nail down a truly effective replacement benefit. You may also consider adding onto an existing benefit that members already use, taking the resources from the underutilized area and contributing them into a more valuable initiative.

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