At Protech, we’ve monitored some of the practical approaches taken by the world’s leading professional membership organisations within the Memberwise Influence list and combined it with the advice we’re giving to clients in this sector to assemble the following guidance. It’s more important than ever for these organisations to continue to drive relevant, timely benefits for members whilst maintaining revenue from additional products and services. A blend of these free and highly valued paid benefits can help your members to weather this crisis.
- Response funds: Providing financial benefits is not viable for every business but many medium to large professional membership organisations are setting aside sums of up to £250,000 to support their members directly. In one instance, an organisation is providing members whose income has been affected by COVID-19 with a £250 grant to help with food and lockdown bills. It’s a generous act that is also an investment in their membership
- Legal advice and support: Another important benefit that many membership organisations are providing is legal advice and support. This is an invaluable service that can be actioned by pulling together documentation on employment, PPE issues, personal injury advice and many other areas relevant to your organisation type.
- Membership scheme payment holidays: A natural reaction for many members during the pandemic might be to cancel their subscriptions to minimise “non-essential” spending during the crisis. Those professional membership organisations that offer some sort of discount or payment holiday are likely to be better positioned as the world returns to normality. Those that insist on full payment with zero concessions are in danger of losing members and damaging their brand value.
- Vouchers for benefits that are currently dormant: Your membership organisation may provide benefits such as outdoor activities that are not currently accessible due to government guidelines. Consider marketing these offerings via gift vouchers so that they can still be purchased and then redeemed when it’s safe to do so. This tactic also has a very positive cash flow effect for your organisation.
- Discounted products and services: Providing small discounts on high-demand products and services will help greatly with maintaining revenue. Right now, products such as online qualifications, training courses, eLearning and other CPD Style activities are popular with many members who have free time and wish to progress their career. Helping make this affordable for members could pay dividends in other areas. Consider providing a mixture of free and paid learning in various styles to engage your members and drive interest in other areas of your business.
- Activities to combat boredom and to keep children entertained: Two common challenges facing members today are keeping children entertained and combating boredom whilst furloughed. Many professional membership organisations are providing industry related puzzles, challenges and activities to help in both cases. Consider whether this is something that your members would value and if so, whether you could also provide them.
- Sharing real life stories from industry: With so many negative stories circulating, it is important to share positive and engaging stories of members who are working within the industry you’re targeting. Keyworker stories can be particularly inspiring and will spread positivity and joy. Encourage members to engage with you to share their experiences.
- Web Chat, email and telephone support: Providing a variety of support channels is vital for professional membership organisations and they need to be clearly signposted everywhere. Members should be first directed to your website’s FAQ pages and if their query is not listed, they should be encouraged to get in contact with you via the channel with which they feel most comfortable.
- Valuable, relevant resources: The provision of resources on key industry trends that resonate with members can add a great deal of value. Providing this via branded marketing materials, social media, video channels or within webinars is ideal. During our research, we found one leading professional body that divided the topics from their cancelled annual conference into a webinar series so that members could learn about them in bite-sized chunks.
- CPD Career Development Activities: The current economic downturn will probably have a longer-term impact on members’ career growth. This is a key opportunity for professional membership organisations to help and we are seeing CPD and learning opportunities being heavily marketed today. If you offer these types of services, focusing on the outcomes of new qualification and further learning is vital to engaging, retaining and recruiting members. It’s also important to demonstrate your ability to provide a higher quality learning experience which will require efficient and innovative back-office processes to achieve.
Bonus Tip: Pass on any good advice you receive
Protech has researched and published an FAQ page on our website to provide guidance for professional membership organisations during this stressful time. Offering a similar information resource to your members will not only provide value by helping them, it will also reduce the demand on your own customer services teams.
This article is part of our 25 page free e-book, how professional membership organisations can drive member value through the pandemic and beyond.
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- Adapt your value proposition to resonate with member needs
- Practically enhance your member retention
- Diversify your qualification approach to protect revenue
- Minimise the impact of event cancellation
- Ensure that your productivity levels remain high whilst working remotely
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