Do Your Incentives Make Sense?

I had the chance to have breakfast yesterday some membership professionals who are new to ASAE. Their organization has both individual and group membership, and they were looking for ideas on ways to increase both recruitment and retention.

We had a great conversation and shared lots of potential ideas they could pursue. But one thing jumped out to me immediately. Their group memberships (80% of their members) are paid by companies. Their individual memberships are almost universally paid by the individuals. And they cost more and offer fewer benefits.

Spot the problem?

Now the association has good reasons to want people to join as groups. Having the entire team as members is better for the member organizations, and the administration is easier for the association. So just flipping that equation – dropping the price for individuals and offering them more in the way of benefits – would be counter-productive.

But they will want to increase individual membership.

So what we discussed as a solution was to find what’s common among the individual members that’s not among the members that join as a group. Are their companies smaller? Are they from different industry segments? Are they earlier in the profession or their careers? Once the association can figure out what makes those individual members different (why are they joining as individuals rather than a group in the first place?), they can develop offerings that address those different needs. If they’re able to do this carefully and well, charging more, less, or the same as the group memberships won’t matter – the members will segment themselves appropriately based on their needs.

Do the incentives you offer your audiences make sense from the perspective of their needs and your own as their membership association? If not, what are you going to do about it?