Amazon is making a killing with their membership program – and other retailers have discovered they can ride the Prime wave. Since Amazon has raised the price for Prime membership, other companies can successfully do the same. The American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) Associations Now blog has given this a catchy name – the Prime effect.)
For the association industry, we can steal a page from Amazon’s playbook – while the membership model is nothing new, the way your association approaches the membership experience constantly needs to be kept top of mind. It really is all about the member experience. Amazon and other service giants, such as Netflix, have learned to cater exclusively to their members through complex algorithms – gone is the “one size fits all” mantra. Woven into the member experience is value. Membership-based organizations need to remember their value proposition, and they must deliver on it. Try not to get too wrapped up in dues payments and donations. Focus on the value your association can offer your members.
Convenience is also key. Your association may drive value, provide the best and most comprehensive solutions and benefits – but are they easy to access? Are your members spending too much time on painstaking tasks that provide no value to them? Do your members have a clear picture of the benefits you provide? Amazon and Netflix have seen sustained success not only because of their innovation, but because their services are easy and fast to utilize. Customers know exactly the benefits of being a member, and it’s easy to access those benefits and manage their own accounts at a time when it’s most convenient for them.
Something that we must also consider – which is outside the scope of Amazon and Netflix services – is the impact your association has on constituents. More often than not, the value of an association goes beyond transactional services. Associations provide education, advocacy, community, and more to their members – but it doesn’t stop there. Those members in turn provide value to their industries, constituents, and societies to which they belong. If you want your association to experience longevity, embrace your role in providing value that goes beyond membership.