Personalizing Your Association Membership Services

Personalizing Your Association Membership Services

Is your association’s membership lagging? Are you struggling to attract new members? Have you recently lost members to a competitive organization? If so, it could be that you have a “one size fits all” philosophy about your membership, when what you need is a more individualized approach. 

Closing that gap between what you’re offering and what your members really want can make the difference between breathing new life into your organization or watching it slowly deteriorate. Read on to learn five ways your association can up its game by providing more personalized membership services. 


À la Carte Pricing

Are your membership fees essentially the same for everyone? That should change. We’re not talking about a few tiers for students, professionals and retirees. We’re talking about multiple pricing structures that allow for serious personalization of fees. For example, the member who only attends the annual conference shouldn’t spend the same amount as the person who uses all your online learning features and downloads all your publications. 

The good news about offering variable or à la carte pricing is that, as new members come on board, your association has the opportunity to increase revenue. Grandfather in existing members, but, over time, gradually increase the cost of joining when extras are involved. Think about what kinds of features members would be willing to pay more for, such as: 

  • One-on-one mentoring
  • Résumé assistance
  • Online courses
  • Credentialing and continuing education suggestions
  • Downloadable content, books and manuals
  • Recommended reading and industry book reviews
  • Private Facebook groups
  • Job postings


Make Niche and Curated Website Content Available

Just as your membership levels should be individualized, so should your website content. Avoid generic content members can find elsewhere, and offer expert how-to articles, interviews, e-books, and videos that fill a genuine need and offer value for your audience. 

If you’re not sure what your members want, ask! While you can glean a lot of information from your website statistics, you’ll get far more specific direction by surveying members (or prospective members) directly. 

Offer a few items for free to allow members to test them. For example, you could publish a series of three e-books in a series. Provide the first gratis for all members, while asking members to pay for the second and third books if they enjoyed the first. Let them suggest sequels if they want even more information on the topic. 


Provide Career Counseling and Personal Mentoring

Offering personal interaction and help up the career ladder is ideal for attracting members of all ages, but it really shines for Millennials. This demographic grew up on more personalized services for everything by virtue of their relationship with technology, so they expect it from associations. Mentoring can take many forms, including: 

  • Internships
  • Help with resumes
  • Job references
  • One-on-one coaching
  • Small classes
  • “Ask me anything” sessions (AMAs), either in person or online
  • Video courses with live Q&A 
  • Project review and feedback
  • Publishing assistance and beta reading
  • Help choosing programs for advanced degrees or night school


Appeal to All Member Demographics

Don’t forget to tailor messages, content and activities to members of all ages. This includes:

  • Mature or pre-Baby Boomers (born 1945 and earlier)
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)
  • Gen Xers (born 1965 – 1980)
  • Millennials (born 1981 – 1999-ish)
  • Generation Z (born mid-to-late ’90s and up)

Each one of these demographics has different learning styles and preferences, different cultural touchpoints, and different notions of things like manners. A Millennial might be fine with a happy birthday text message from friends and family, whereas an early Boomer may expect a card in the mail. 

What does each group struggle with that your association could provide? Younger members may want career help, while older members need assistance with technology and retirement planning. 


Offer Personalized Learning Paths

For a truly personalized approach, a unique learning path for each member may fit the bill. This combines the elements mentioned above, from career mentoring to coursework and credentialing, with the member’s age and education level taken into account. 

Often, members may start out on one track, only to realize they want to go in another direction or they are forced there by the job market or the economy. Offering step-by-step flexibility may be attractive to many members.

A wonderful way to greet new or prospective members is to offer a one-on-one session, much like meeting with a guidance counselor as a college freshman. Where does the member want to go? What’s holding them back? What can you give him or her to help the individual to achieve desired goals? Chart out a course and then offer the membership features, priced right, that are perfect for their needs. 

Don’t wait until your association membership is in decline. Be proactive about personalizing membership services, and you may put the days of worrying about filling your ranks behind you.