Home' micenet eMag : micenet April 2018 Contents MCI THOUGHT | STEPHAN WURZINGER
or decades now, associations
have maintained a very traditional
approach towards “membership”
and membership dues. However,
the time has come for organisations to catch
up with the realities of today’s consumer
habits and reconsider how and why people
around the world engage with organisations.
Segmentation, customisation and
differentiation are key.
Members, customers or
Many associations have large numbers of
“customers” who pay valuable sums of
money to the association for multiple
reasons, such as: acquiring knowledge and
continuing education; advancing their
professional development; accessing the
latest industry trends, networking and
exchanging ideas... Customers are interested
in your association’s offerings, products,
body of knowledge – they are buying your
publications and journals; paying to attend
your congress, training courses... and yet
they are not interested in, or do not see the
relevance and value of the bundled package
and price point you call membership, so they
will not become members under today’s
This is particularly true for associations
trying to build their membership outside their
home market. Your value proposition must be
adjusted (in its content, price and means of
engagement) to suit the needs of the target
No longer can associations continue with their traditional “one size fits all”
approach to membership, says MCI’s Stephan Wurzinger.
audience and to offer value as it is perceived by that audience. Instead of building membership
through the traditional approach only, associations need to consider their organisations as open
professional communities rather than closed membership organisations. Why not let
professionals engage with your organisation at the level and point of interest that is relevant and
adds value to them, personally and professionally? But consider them also as “members of your
community”; otherwise said, “members of your association”.
Fundamental to this mindset shift is the recognition that value is defined by the “new” customer
not by the organisation. Value is a personal perception and is influenced by multiple issues
(generation, cultural and national norms, professional status...) Let’s consider an example:
• A simple monetary case, an international association who is trying to build membership in
India for an annual fee of USD180 will not succeed in this country with this approach because
the cultural and national norm around association membership in India is a lifetime
membership for just USD100.
Evolving membership models
For associations to be successful and thrive over the next decade they must totally reconsider
their approach to membership, become more versatile, use technology, segment their target
audiences and allow individuals to choose their point of entry. Some simple examples:
• Special Interest Group/Communities of Practice Member: why not allow professionals to
engage with your organisation for a modest fee to access their specific area of sub interest?
• Product Member: why not consider all those valuable attendees at your annual congress?
Welcome them to your association community as a valued congress member?
• Or allow professionals to become a training member of your organisation, providing them with
access to one or two online learning modules and face to face courses.
• Corresponding Members: most associations have an electronic newsletter so instead of
asking for subscribers to the newsletter and continuing to list them merely as subscribers,
why not welcome them into your community as Corresponding Members?
• Virtual (e- or digital) Members: many associations have started to offer this category (typically
online version of the journal), to offer a lower membership fee and to minimise their costs.
• Customised Members: allow your members to choose from a menu of pre-defined products/
benefits and compose their own membership package (à la carte shopping).
• FULL Members: this category will not go away, however, maybe this member category will
evolve to some higher meaning - such as Fellow or Authorised Professional? m
THE RULES OF
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