Tom Walters, Consultant
Perceived Member Value: The value existing members feel they receive from access to benefits and services of membership and/or being able to participate.
Actual Member Value: The value an existing member actually receives from membership.
There are a huge number of reasons why an individual would consider joining a membership organisation (including professional bodies, trade associations, sports bodies, regulatory bodies and many more) and they are likely to have different expectations of the level of service that should be provided.
However, as you likely know from your handy Member Value 2025 handbook, MemberWise has identified a mismatch between the perceived benefits of a membership subscription and the actual cost of joining. This is a problem that no-one in the membership industry can afford to have; luckily, there are proven ways to restore the balance between benefits and cost. In our many years of experience of working with membership organisations, we’ve discovered that small improvements to your digital estate (your website, app, and any other member-facing digital platforms) can make a huge difference to the overall Perceived Member Value of your organisation.
The key to building an irresistible membership proposition is by providing the services that members actually want – rather than those that you think they want – and making them incredibly convenient to access; this is what makes a great user experience. Based on our many years of speaking to members and prospective members, two of the most common reasons for joining a membership organisation, whether as an individual or as another organisation, are:
- Help and Support – can I meet interesting people and learn from them? Can I utilise the organisation’s support network to improve my own organisation?
- Membership Prestige – does it improve my individual or my organisation’s reputation to belong to the organisation?
So how can you make sure you’re maximising the potential of these two key reasons for membership? Read on to find out…
Improving Your Help and Support Offering
A membership organisation that doesn’t enable its people to connect is squandering its greatest asset and failing to leverage its key Unique Selling Point (USP) – the help and support it can provide to its members. It’s essential to:
- Make current and potential members aware that your organisation offers a supportive community of experts and peers,
- Provide the platform – via a mix of technology and real-world events – to enable those conversations to take place with minimum inconvenience.
We’ve seen countless examples of membership organisations whose ‘sense of community’ does not extend beyond organised events once or twice a year. Face-to-face meet-ups between members are great and they do offer a tremendous amount of value – but to leave it at that is a big missed opportunity in what is a digital-first age.
Online forums and communities are a great way to build a persistent online community that is available to all members whenever they need that extra bit of support that only a real person can provide. Google can be a great tool for finding answers to general queries, but sometimes the only way to get the answer you’re looking for is to ask it yourself – and what better environment to ask your question than a forum dedicated to your industry?
Forums and discussion platforms have evolved significantly in the past five years, and now allow all kinds of features such as member-to-member messaging, auto-moderation, and voting on posts. Allowing your members to easily interact on a sophisticated online forum will not only make them feel part of a community, but an active and thriving community led and enabled by your organisation.
I hope you enjoyed today’s blog, and that you managed to gain a little bit of insight into how your membership proposition can be improved with a few simple additions to your website. If you would like any further advice about any of the issues discussed in this blog, please drop us a line at +44 161 971 3200 or via email at [email protected]
Cantarus is a multi-award-winning full service digital agency specialising in delivering websites on the DNN Evoq content management system & with deep expertise and an outstanding client portfolio in the membership sector.