5 Steps to Restructuring Your Association Membership

Did you know the latest Association Engagement Index (AEI) study states only 21% of respondents said their association did an excellent job at providing “benefits, products, and services corresponding to my (/my company’s) needs?”

This is huge! And something a membership restructure could fix.

While any major membership restructuring involves risk, there are simple steps that can help ensure any changes you make are in sync with your members’ needs.

Step #1: Use data to plan

To help mitigate any risk of uncertainty and change, association marketers like you must align current industry trends and look at historical data that shows member engagement and behavior.

Analyze your association’s opportunities and threats, identify commitments, and recognize strengths and weaknesses. Look into your member renewal trends and overall spending with the association, adding in products and events per person, and determine potential drops that may occur with membership restructuring.

Step #2: Dive into your current membership structure

Review and understand your association’s current structure before changing anything.

In this analysis, ask yourself:

  • What benefits and services do you offer members?
  • How much revenue do you generate from dues?
  • How does that revenue break down by category and/or tier?
  • How many members do you have in each category and/or tier?
  • What is your retention rate by category and/or tier?

Step #3: Talk to your members

Ask your members some key questions in a sample size survey to dive into their needs and help in your restructuring process. Ask things like:

  • Does the current membership model provide enough value? Why or why not?
  • Which member benefits do you find most or least useful?
  • If you could add one new thing to the member experience, what would it be and why?
  • Would a new membership model appeal to you right now? Why or why not?

Step #4: Think five years ahead

You should also factor in the future forces that will change where your members are headed.

So, you’ll want to start with the end in mind. Think about who your members will be in five years. What programs and services will they need?

This thinking will not only help define new member categories and tiers BUT will also help reframe how member benefits are developed.

For example, in the past few years, Nike has been rethinking membership offerings on the mobile app, NikePlus Unlocks. They developed a forward-thinking strategy and partnered with companies like Apple Music, ClassPass, and Headspace. This strategy incentivizes members to connect with them through their app instead of online as they get more benefits they want and value. Sure you’re not Nike, but don’t be afraid to think big like this. ASAE has a discount partnership with the Business Source, who offers recaps of business books. It’s something I really value!

Step 5: Develop a communications plan

Once you have a new structure, The process of communicating it is as important as researching and building it.

Here are some recommended steps for effective communication:

  • Develop a concise messaging document stating the official reasons for the membership restructure, the cost, and the benefit implications.
  • Notify important volunteers and leaders of the coming changes.
  • Letters and emails can be personalized to highlight how the changes will impact the member as an individual or company by noting new due prices, benefits, and operations.
  • Make sure all marketing materials are updated to reflect the new membership structure. 

And there you have it! The Five steps you should take when restructuring your membership offerings and launching it, to great success I hope!