Driving Membership when Membership’s Your Business

By: Joan Macdougal - July 30, 2018

Driving Membership:


Macrison has been working with membership organisations for many years. The complexity in building membership organisations is finding the unique balance between the value of common services and making members feel those services are meeting their individual needs. We use an in-house analogy for this. “Make sure every boat rises with the tide but make sure every boat feels like they’re winning the race!”

There are two things that are an absolute must in managing a membership business:

1. Recognise, define and manage what members perceive the goals to be and what the business goals actually are. This must be done in a way that’s transparent to members.

2. Know, optimise and maximise every touch point the organisation has with members. This is the key to making the common values of membership feel unique to each individual.


Goal Setting:


Membership organisations come in many shapes and sizes. Sporting Clubs, Industry Associations and Community Groups, to name just a few. Regardless of the type of membership organisation, there is one guiding premise. Your job is to provide the services that the membership set you up to provide. This is the golden rule for driving membership. You would be amazed how often we identify a board or management who have lost sight of this.


The second goal is the corporate governance and financial management of the business. Factoring financing may be a solution to stabilize cash flow. Even if a not-for-profit, maximising revenue is essential to delivering member value. Member value is the only tool for maintaining and growing membership. The challenge becomes taking steps to increase revenue when the members don’t believe it’s in their best interest. A classic example of this is increasing membership fees.

The solution is setting two sets of goals and managing the business against both.


Define Member Goals


Interview the membership. Find out what’s important to them. Look for a common thread across all the members, define these and make these your member goals. When communicating with your members use these goals as the focus. Typically, your member goals will be the things that make members feel warm and positive about their membership. A footy club, for example, may have the goal of having a winning footy team. The business efforts behind having a winning team are not necessarily what the membership wants to hear when you talk about building that winning team.

The exercise may feel like semantics but making sure you can communicate your business objectives through the member’s goals will increase the engagement of your members.



Driving Membership through Touch Points:


If you have set goals correctly then you must be communicating your successes against the goals as often as possible and through as many touch points as you can. These will include:


  • Website
  • Newsletters
  • Events
  • Competitions
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Social Media
  • Meetings
  • Social Gatherings
  • Others as specific to your entity


To do this well you must have a good database that allows for gathering and building intelligence for better and more personalised communications. You must have in place an integrated content strategy that tailors the delivery of messages across every touch point and ideally, you will have a level of systems integration that will allow a more positive and proactive approach to the exercise. If you look for a degree of consistency in the delivery of information combined with a level of unique personalisation, you’ll achieve a sense of comfort that all is well in your organisation while making individual membership feel very personal.


It’s not easy and it requires a lot of thought and planning but the results will speak for themselves. You’ll drive membership best ‘when all the boats are rising with the tide yet every boat feels like it’s winning the race’.



About The Author:


Joan - The author

Joan MacDougal is the founder and owner of Macrison Co Pty Ltd. Prior to Macrison, Joan held senior roles at both American Express and Telstra. With 30 years of front-line marketing, advertising and communications experience, Joan brings honesty and perspective to her views on better marketing, communications and advertising. Visit Joan’s website www.joanmacdougal.com to get to know Joan a little better. For more information on our Services click here Macrison Services



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