Demonstrating the real-dollar value of membership makes a compelling case for your prospects and members to join and renew. Here are some tips for shaping a persuasive member ROI brochure that clearly demonstrates the return on every dollar invested in membership.
“When you give stuff away, it’s an ROI killer.”
That is the central conundrum of attracting members without selling yourself short in the process. So to show the value of membership in your organization, it’s important to determine in actual dollar numbers what each feature of membership is worth, according to association researcher and consultant Ed Rigsbee, CAE, in a recent webinar, “The ROI Member Recruitment Brochure.”
Rigsbee suggests using qualitative research, such as focus groups, to help determine the dollar value of each member benefit. Now, because of the pandemic, it is still possible to conduct the research with members over the phone and on virtual meeting platforms. It’s a little harder to engage members, he says, but it still works.
Calculating Membership Value
How do you figure out what each feature of membership is worth? In the focus group, start by asking members what they get out of belonging to the association. Many benefits aren’t easy to put a price tag on, like leadership experience, access and opportunity through networking, technical advice from a consulting firm, e-newsletters and bulletins, legislative updates, and free legal advice.
Guide the discussion to determine the sustainable dollar value of each benefit of membership. Total up those values to show the annual ROI. For example, if the total value is $22,809, and annual membership dues are $545, then there is return of $41 on every dollar invested. Don’t include anything in the calculation that the association gives away for free to members and nonmembers, Rigsbee advised.
Prioritizing “What’s In It for Me?”
Design your brochure to display the most important information prominently. Most people’s eyes gravitate toward the inside right panel of a brochure, Rigsbee says, so he suggests listing the ROI figures there.
Also make sure you’re emphasizing the right benefits. Especially when seeking to attract new members, many associations focus too heavily on advocacy, he says. Advocacy and legislative benefits have long been regarded as an incentive for membership, and although members often stay with an organization because of its advocacy work, it typically isn’t what initially propelled them to join, Rigsbee argues. At the outset, most members are interested in growing their businesses and building their careers.
If your brochure puts too much focus on advocacy work, “you’re leaving [other benefits] on the wayside,” he says. “That’s not the way to grow your organization.”
Instead, your brochure should lead with how membership will make a member’s life better and how it’s a good business decision. Make that case up front. “People join because of what’s in it for them,” Rigsbee says. Place information about how the association’s advocacy work benefits the overall industry lower down in the brochure.
Another benefit to emphasize is community. “Community is more important than you realize,” he says, “especially in this COVID-19 crisis time.” Members are much more engaged and want to be called upon to discuss what’s happening. “Everyone wants to know we’re not in this alone.”