We live in a highly personalized, customizable world. Your members (and prospects) are used to paying for the products and services they want, while cutting out those they don’t.
Take TV for example. Recent studies have shown that the average American household receives about 189 channels, but watches only about 17. That’s a lot of channels to be paying for that you don’t actually watch.
The result? Many households have cut cable and opted for Netflix or Hulu (or some other video streaming service). They don’t want to pay for services they don’t use.
...and your members and prospects are the same way. Enter membership levels. By offering a variety of membership levels at your association or chamber, you’re giving people the opportunity to customize their membership (thus boosting the chances they’ll stay with your organization).
So how exactly do you create these membership levels, especially if you’re starting from scratch? Here are a few tips:
1. Set parameters and determine the basics
Before creating your membership levels, you’ll need to think about your members’ needs, as well as your organization’s needs for sustainability. That means answering the following:
- How many levels will you have? It’s recommended to have at least two or three membership levels, but depending on your staff size and the makeup of your organization’s membership, you may need more in order to sufficiently meet the needs of your varying membership segments.
- How will you price your membership levels? Know what your market can bear and what the cost per membership is for your association or chamber. From there, carefully evaluate the benefits included in each package — and don’t undervalue your services! Do your research and see how similar organizations have implemented their membership models.
- How will you prevent everyone from choosing the lowest level? This is a common concern, but it all boils down to value. If you can put together packages that truly deliver membership value, you will have members within each level. It’s just a matter of marketing them effectively.
2. Categorize benefits
Next, it’s time to determine what benefits should go in what packages. You’ll have to do a little cost analysis here (based on the value you think each benefit is worth), but tip: Items costing you little or no resources should, for the most part, be available to everyone.
3. Put it together
Once you’ve decided on what goes in your packages, you’ll then need to sell them in ways that will resonate with your audience. Many organizations rely on charts, where it’s easy to see how value goes up as price goes up.
Below is an example of a chart we particularly like (from the Columbus Chamber of Commerce), especially since below each membership level, there’s a corresponding testimonial from a member within that level. Genius!
Remember, creating different membership levels at your organization is all about giving your members options and allowing them to pay for the products and services they actually anticipate using. (High use = high retention.)
Want more tips for creating membership levels at your association or chamber? Check out our free guide for implementing a tiered dues structure at your organization below!
Note: This post was originally published on 4/16/18, but updated on 7/8/20 for added value.