Some chambers conduct benefits usage research on individual members and the entire membership. They analyze what members use which benefits and they use that information to prove value at renewal time. This is only an effective sales tactic if the member is doing more than just “eating for pleasure.”
Are Your Chamber Benefits a Buffet for Members?
Have you ever been to a buffet, or a friends’s home, with a huge spread of delicious food? You eat because you’re hungry and you need nourishment and energy, but past that point, some of us eat for pleasure and because it’s there.
The food is wonderful and it’s all right there in front of us. Why not eat it? What else do we have to do?
But if someone comes along and puts the food away or shuts down the buffet, it’s okay because we weren’t eating out of need but because it was there.
Chamber benefits can operate the same way for members.
Taken another way….
Amazon Prime membership’s include access to free streaming movies. If you look at my account, you would see I order a lot of movies. You might assume from the number of movies I order that this benefit is important to me. Yet if they broke off this part of membership and made it available at an additional cost, I wouldn’t purchase it. I don’t subscribe to Netflix either.
The reason is I’m “eating for pleasure.” This is not a crucial benefit for me. I watch because it’s included in my membership. It’s a nice bonus I use because it’s free. I would not rent the number of movies I do if I had to pay for them. Yet from looking at my account, you might assume quite the opposite. You may even tally the number of movies I “ordered” and multiply that by what it would cost me had I paid for those rentals, and show me that number, telling me this is what my membership is worth or what it saved me over the course of the year.
But I wouldn’t listen because it’s money I wouldn’t have spent had it not been a free benefit.
Tricky Thing About Member Benefits and Engagement
That’s the tricky thing about a benefits analysis. For you to derive any value out of your findings, you have to understand that some of your members attend events because they’re free and “might as well. I paid for it.”
For any benefit that is free to your members, you can’t assume they will renew with your chamber just because they attend a lot of them. Take your Business After Hours, for instance. Attendance at this free event (alone) is not an indication of engagement. They could work next door and really enjoy the free appetizers. They may feel justified because they “are paying for it” in their dues. They need to get their money’s worth. These actions alone are not engagement and do not constitute value.
You have to look deeper than that.
Engagement is active participation. It’s referrals. This member finds such value in your offerings they want to tell every one of their friends. It’s volunteering and giving up of time to help the group. It’s participating and not merely attending, and that’s a subtle but important distinction.
If you’re trying to understand value and engagement at your chamber, you need to look past attendance at free events to get there.
Guest post by Christina Green
Image credit: Norma Davey