In a previous life, before entering the world of wristbands, lanyards and promotional items here at AAC ID Solutions, I launched and managed a hospitality and leisure focused membership program that provided benefits to a membership of 5,000+ people. The key to it’s success (the membership was eventually sold to a multinational timeshare company) was the concept of value.
As a rule, we bulldozed through the pre-existing model for the industry, which at the time focused on quantity of benefits over the quality of them; if you were happy with a 7% discount off an Italian restaurant on the outskirts of town valid between 2pm and 3.30pm on Tuesdays only, then you were in luck, unless it was a public holiday in which case the discount became just 5%. Our plan was to focus on value and simplicity. We signed a limited number of partners (restaurants, hotels, spas and golf courses) and would only welcome them to the program if they committed to offer a “buy one, get one” benefit to all members, all the time. The value of the membership became a tremendous selling point.
It’s funny how relevant this same concept is even now as we support hundreds of membership based companies here in Australia with their membership products, because the key to a successful membership remains rooted to the ability to add value.
The crucial benefit that comes with a well run membership, where the members feel like they receive exceptional value for their membership fee, is RETENTION. Retention is the holy grail of membership management. It has been proven time and again that trying to secure a new member is approximately 10 times more expensive that retaining an existing member. Memberships with high retention rates also benefit from being able to plan for effectively, secure in the knowledge that their revenue will remain stable.
The two most obvious ways to add value to a membership relate to the quality of service provided, but then also the tangible ‘goodies’ that a member receives as part of their membership.
Adding Value Through Quality Service
It may seem incredibly obvious, but the easiest way to add value to a membership is to offer good service. A fitness centre that employs well trained, friendly and knowledge team members, who maintains a spotlessly clean environment and who maintains equipment to a very high level will retain members. Many fitness centres also offer special “member events” now, where the goal is, again, to add value to the membership in order to reduce the chances of members looking elsewhere.
Memberships that offer little in the way of service and support to their members qill quickly find themselves in trouble with high rates of member abandonment.
Adding Value with Promotional Products and Items
Members love goodies! We all love goodies. But did you know that, especially in the service industry, promotional products and merchandise actually offer a membership the greatest opportunity to provide their members with something TANGIBLE.
The key to determining what kind of value a promotional product might have to a member is perception and relevance. Some products have a low monetary value but a high perceived value. A good example of this is custom towels, and as a promotional item, custom towels are very effective. In this respect, we refer more to beach towels rather than the small gym towels. A large, full colour beach towel is something that provides high perceived value but does not need to cost a fortune. Relevance of a promotional item is the second factor in determining the value of it. The more relevant a product is to the recipient, and the more functional/useful, then a higher value will be attributed to it by the member. A great example of this is custom water bottles for the fitness industry or sweatbands for a running club.
How Should Promotional Products be Used?
Whilst it is clear that providing goodies to members is a great way to add value to a membership, it needs to be done with a clear strategy in mind. Of course, the most common timing for the distribution of promotional products is when a member is first joining a membership, or when they have renewed their membership. Positioned as incentives, these kind of products can make the difference between a success and a fail when it comes to signing and retaining members.
A welcome pack is a common marketing tool used by memberships, often containing their member cards, plus a series of relevant branded products aiming to 1) provide brand awareness and exposure for the membership and 2) add value to the membership in order to offset the signing up cost.
A key mistake that we recommend is avoided is using the same promotional items year after year. There is no reason for a membership to give out exactly the same custom bag to a member repeatedly; once is enough. The following year, some variety should be incorporated as this not only maintains the value of the gift (imagine what little value a member puts on receiving the same product they received the year before?), but demonstrates that some thought and effort has gone in to the retention of the member.
For high value memberships, such as VIP road assistance offered by car companies, we have even seen 100% personally promotional products like key rings, business folders etc, complete with the name of the member emblazoned across the product. These kinds of touches are greatly appreciated by members and firmly position the brand and relationship with the member.
Another pitfall, as discussed in the introduction, if going for quantity over quality. Too many businesses are just looking for something “cheap” to provide their members, as though the very action of giving them a 50c pen is going to impress them. Not only does that product offer very little in terms of value to the member, it can actually harm the relationship.
A happy member equals a good membership. Using promotional products in the right way allows a membership to add value to their initial offering, increasing the chances of member retention. For more information, talk to AAC ID Solutions.
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