In response to the many challenges brought by the pandemic, associations are being forced to take a closer look at their business models in order to explore new, more crisis-resistant revenue streams. It could be a challenge to find an association willing to say that they have (or rather haven’t) ‘cracked it’ and subsequently now have the blueprints for a perfect model that doesn’t rely in-part on event-driven revenue, but it’s worth considering some of the key components of pivoting sightly from a membership-based model to a product-based model.
Carefully identifying the needs and interests of members and non-members alike must be top of the agenda in order to develop products that are relevant, marketable and profitable. This transition however requires careful planning and execution, and organizations must ensure that any new revenue streams align with the organization’s mission and values, and their commitment to serving their members and the wider community.
The most important consideration is the motivations of one’s members – who can be classified into three categories: joiners, buyers,and status-seekers.
Joiners are motivated by a sense of belonging and community. They join associations primarily to connect with like-minded individuals and participate in activities and events that align with their interests. For these members, the traditional membership model may be more attractive, as it provides a sense of belonging and access to exclusive events and resources.
Buyers, on the other hand, are motivated by the value of the products and services that an association provides. They are less interested in community and more interested in what the association can offer them in terms of tangible products and services. These members may be more likely to be attracted to a product-based model that provides access to products and services that meet their ongoing needs.
Finally, status-seekers are motivated by the prestige and exclusivity of an association. They are attracted to associations that offer a certain level of status and prestige, and are willing to pay a premium for exclusive access to events and resources. For these members, the traditional membership model may be more attractive, as it provides access to exclusive events and resources that are not available to non-members, but there may also be interest in exclusive products and services.
When considering a pivot towards product-based model, it is extremely important to avoid alienating one’s joiners and status-seeker members. However, by carefully identifying and mapping the needs and motivations of their members, product offerings that appeal to a broad range of members can be created. For example, an association may offer a premium membership tier that provides access to exclusive events and resources for the joiners and status seekers, while also offering a range of products and services that meet the needs of buyers.
In conclusion, when considering any kind of shift in revenue streams, it’s important to do the ground work by mapping out your member base, analysing its needs and motivations and always staying true to your association’s mission and values.
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