Guest post by Anna Toon

The times they are a changin’. While many associations have long relied on a one-size-fits-all membership model, hybrid models are all the rage, and for good reason. Offering a portfolio of membership options to your members not only provides them with the ability to pick the package that best suits their needs and budget, but can also help boost membership engagement, membership numbers, and overall revenue. But, how do you choose which options to offer?

Let The Data Be Your Guide

Our recent research suggests there are opportunities within membership if you look at the benefits as they’re valued by different generations (or by members who are in different stages in their career).  For example, they will use technology differently, expect varying levels of personalization within their member experience, and view their careers differently.

Understanding and appreciating these different stages can provide tremendous visibility as well as inform strategic decisions. So, look at your own membership. This may include sending out surveys or perhaps examining membership, market share, or pricing analysis. But, ultimately, it involves looking for areas in the data where your organization and your membership may not be aligned.

Once you review the data – the macro trends and then what’s specific and unique to your organization – you uncover the opportunity. Ask yourself whether the value of membership to your association appeals to the core of your members. How will you identify membership prospects? What additional revenue streams will support new membership models?

Then, you can begin to look at your options and the advantages and challenges of each.  For example, younger members may be attracted to a Freemium model, which offers lower value benefits for free in an effort to attract new members with the hope of upselling membership in the future. In addition, Freemium members may purchase a course or attend a conference, But, the downside is the benefits of Freemium may overshadow the cost of membership.

Another model to consider is Tiered. This may appeal to those further along in their career, and is an approach where the number of benefits increases with the tier and/or price. However, this could create membership “classes” detrimental to the association culture. An a la carte option may be a veritable dream membership for members, but could also be extremely difficult to manage. You get the picture.

There are many options and innumerable considerations, but first and foremost, know that any model should do one or more of the following:

  • Tap into new audiences via highly targeted offers. This could be something specific to young members or retirees.
  • Clarify value. Some of these will happen organically as you align benefits and programs more specifically to what your members want and the market demands.
  • Create internal agility. If your team develops a new program, include it and use it to drive conversion into more premium membership offers.
  • Help you embrace new marketing opportunities.
  • Accelerate growth.

Hybrid memberships have been trending for some time, and the adoption of these models for associations is expected to continually increase. The portfolio model is widely appealing and can strongly impact membership engagement while attracting new members. Understand your membership, define your organizational goals, and interpret your data to find the best options for your organization.


Like what you read here? Tune in to our free webinar on Thursday, April 27th @ 2:00 PM Eastern.