If you’re designing membership tiers, one of your greatest challenges may be deciding which tiers include what benefits. Creating tiers that are appealing yet entice companies to upgrade to higher levels takes finesse and a clear understanding of what your members want.
How to Create Valuable Membership Tiers
Before we get to a list of chamber benefits that you can create tiers around, keep in mind the basics of creating valuable chamber tiers.
- Clearly define the different types of chamber members and what each wants. Take a look at the most common types of chamber members you have. What do they have in common and what do they want? Create chamber member personas. Outline what their most compelling business struggles are and how the chamber can solve them.
- Use the chamber personas to create tiers with clearly defined benefits that align with each persona.
- Keep explanations simple. No one wants to spend an afternoon trying to decide which tier fits their needs. Use visuals and tables to make it easy to see what each tier includes.
- Show the value and the price. Some chambers don’t want to show pricing but it can be a deciding factor for membership tiers. Sometimes the greater value is at the higher price point and if it’s just a little higher, the member may decide to select the higher tier because of that great value. If they can’t see pricing, they may assume a price they can’t afford and stick with what they know.
- Display tiers next to one another. In your marketing and explanation of your tiers, show the tiers and benefits side by side so it’s easy to see what’s included comparatively speaking.
- Brand your levels. As silly as it sounds, some people will be drawn to the appeal of a name. That’s the psychology behind bronze, silver, and gold. We’re conditioned to rank things and something gold sounds better than bronze. We inherently assume it has greater value (and it should because it’s a higher tier). Someone who appreciates the finer things in life may upgrade membership based on the appeal of a luxury brand tier.
- Consider how your sponsorship programs will tie into tiers. One check is often easier to get than three, for instance. Members are already paying dues. If you roll sponsorship opportunities into certain membership tiers, you can lock members in at a higher rate of investment than if you approach them separately to sponsor each one of your events. One “yes” is easier to obtain than three. At some point, your companies will feel chased for money.
- Monitor levels. Once your tiers are finalized and marketed, and members have selected their tiers, note who ended up where. Were you correct in your predictions using your marketing personas about which tiers each of your different types of members would select? What are your largest tiers? What are your smallest? Is there a way to realign your offerings to draw in more members?
Formulate ideas on why your least selected tier is that way. If it’s your highest tier, that’s understandable as not every business can afford that level of investment. However, if it’s your lowest tier try to figure out why that is. Are the other tiers a greater value or is your lowest tier missing something? Did more members select to upgrade or did they let their membership lapse?
So, what exactly should go into your membership tiers? What benefits should you offer? While that’s for you and your board (and possibly a consultant) to decide, we offer you a list of benefits that many chambers offer.
The Definitive List of Chamber Benefits
While this is not meant to be a list of every chamber benefit you should offer, you can use it to pick and choose benefits for your membership tiers.
- Event sponsorships
- Free entry to special events
- First right to purchase tickets to special events
- Member directory listing (different tiers could receive different size listings or additional keywords/categories)
- Website banner advertising
- Newsletter advertising
- Guest blogging opportunities
- Seminar/Lunch & Learn thought leadership spotlights and/or hosting abilities
- Free spot for designee in Chamber Leadership program
- Free job postings (or a specified number of postings)
- Member-to-member discounts
- Ribbon cutting
- Mentor opportunities
- Exec committee membership
- Visitor’s Guide Listing (various opportunities/levels here)
- Being invited on a trade or economic development tour
- Business marketing pieces showcased in the chamber office
- Keynote speaker introductions
- Event naming rights
- Business and job expo table(s)
- Member window clings of their branded tier
- Educational opportunities
- Access to market research, industry reports, and/or educational materials
- Priority referral services
- Business award consideration, nomination ability, and/or voting rights
- Member spotlights
- Group health/life insurance
- Worker’s compensation
- Payroll services
- Marketing and social media services
- Application fees waived (could be used for your Leadership program, member application, or any other fee you charge such as a parade entry fee)
- Complimentary or discounted conference room rentals
- Co-working membership discounts or free passes (if your chamber operates a co-working space)
- Free notary public services
- Free e-blasts or hot deals
- Preferred seating at popular events
- Preferred placement at job or business expos
- First choice of ad placement
- First choice or right of refusal on sponsorships
- Emcee duties
- VIP parking at events
- Invitation to advocacy trips like Capitol/Legislative Day
- Consulting services in government relations/purchasing/contracting, workforce development, business development, marketing strategy, or DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion)
- Invitation to industry-specific meetings
- Access to event attendee mailing lists
- Invitation to VIP meet and greets before signature events
- 401k options
- Savings on merchant processing services
- Savings on office supplies
- Savings on Telemed mental health services
- Promotion of open house, anniversary, business milestones
- Access to media guide
- Press release submissions
- Inclusion of promo items in new member swag bags
- Invitation to referral group
- Inclusion on chamber map
- Inclusion on a special industry chamber-run website or landing page such as one geared to eating or travel
- One-on-one business counseling
- Certificate of Origin discounts
- Logo on chamber website
- New member announcement on chamber homepage and in newsletter
- Verbal recognition at all events
- Logo in event program
- Discounts on shipping and telecommunications solutions
- Invitation to join subject- or industry-specific roundtable
In addition to the ideas above, there are benefits that should be part of your marketing materials but are not necessarily going to make the list for your tiered benefits.
Chambers advocate for local businesses and may lobby on behalf of members on issues that affect their industries, such as taxes or regulations.
Members can get involved in community events and initiatives, which can help build goodwill and promote their business. There are also many leadership and volunteer opportunities with the chamber. Some of those opportunities can also provide new job skills such as volunteering for the fundraising committee and learning how to craft an effective ask letter.
Chambers have relationships with local government officials and can help members navigate government processes and regulations such as challenges with zoning.
There are many ways to meet your members’ needs through membership tiers but they all begin by having a good understanding of what they need and the things that are difficult to do themselves. In a time where businesses are cutting back on expenditures, understanding the problems they have and your chamber’s ability to solve them will be the difference between successful chambers and those that continue to struggle.