Industry news

20 December 2017 Alex

Barriers for membership organisations in the modern world

Barriers of the modern world

Membership organisations, like any business, encounter challenges and barriers. Even the simple passing of time brings about changes in an organisations macro-environment that must not be overlooked.

It’s not a new concept that times change and businesses change to follow, but if competing companies, products and technology are birthed by the modern world, not developing in at least the same speed as the competition will mean these barriers only get bigger. Barack Obama himself believes ‘the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow’, and for many, the golden rule of business is that you must innovate or be left behind.

How do they affect membership organisations?

So importantly, what is it about the modern world that could deeply affect membership organisations? I believe the following to be the biggest factors.

  • Globalisation
  • Social media

The world has undoubtedly changed. The term globalisation is often thrown around, the increasing interaction of people and countries through the growth, use and flow of international money, ideas and culture. We live in a smaller world which means there is increased competition and a greater choice for the consumer in any market. This coupled with social media has resulted in a transparent world, something every market has had to identify. The relevance of this to membership organisations is that there is now a host of:

  • Heavy competition for your audience’s attention
  • Freely available education around every corner
  • Demand to offer an undeniable value proposition
  • Homogeneous consumers who have more similar desires

And for these reasons, standing out in your segment and offering value to your audience has become increasingly difficult. It is essential to acknowledge the need to innovate.

So, why should professionals pay for membership now?

The modern world, such platforms as LinkedIn nonetheless, have meant that professionals can exist in communities and gain many of the educational and social benefits of an organisation without the associated costs. A membership can in many ways be considered a service and therefore owning a membership can be intangible, there is a lack of ownership that equally exists online.

So how can you stand out from the alternatives competing for a potential member’s time? How can you communicate that a membership is going to add great value to that person’s life? I think the key is to innovate and stay relevant; the transparency of the world, merging of markets, consumers and host of readily available education means that a membership has to be very good quality or that prospective member will stay at just that.

Solutions to the membership barrier

A membership organisation is an often non-physical place where professionals can network, learn, educate, belong and develop. Its benefits can be categorised as delivering:

  • Professionalism
  • Education
  • Perks
  • Networking
  • Profile
  • Recognition

Here are four ways your membership organisation (with our help) can centre your strategy and make innovative steps forward that help maintain relevance, quality and therefore members:

  • Update your brand: We can work through your brand-mark, brand-type, tone of voice, campaigns
  • Create tangible elements of the membership: Consider print marketing and physical content
  • Deliver membership-worthy content: Through the use of modules such as Resource Library and Listings, you can deliver your industry leading content in digestible and engaging ways
  • Involve your members in the innovation process: Consider co-creation and research that can be done involving members

Your thoughts

We’d love to hear how your organisation is overcoming membership barriers in new, innovative ways. Or if you have barriers that we haven’t discussed above. Let us know by writing a comment below.

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