re:Member-ing the Value — Four Keys to Building Value-Level Memberships

re:Member-ing the Value

Four Keys to Building Value-Level Memberships

“Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller

Membership is a billion-dollar business. In the United States alone millions of people sign up for or renew at least one form of membership each year. It might be for a local zoo, museum, or aquarium; perhaps it is an annual pass for a theme park; or maybe it is as simple as a membership to Costco…regardless of which specific option (or options) we choose, membership is truly valued by many of us.

But in the public sector (non-profits) I have noticed a disproportionate emphasis placed on marketing that is designed almost exclusively to attract “Donor-Level” members. On the surface, this makes complete sense; after all, these are the people who are writing checks for thousands, ten-of-thousands, or even millions of dollars. While it is important to market to these donor-level members, it is important that we do not overlook our everyday visitors; many of them would spend more if they knew that we had entry-level or value memberships. We need to ensure that our marketing is reaching both ends of the membership spectrum. Here are four key best practices that should be implemented on Value-Level Memberships

  1. Don’t Scare them off: Avoid featuring you Donor-Level Membership products in the same context as your “everyday” or “value” Memberships. Never market them together at the point-of-sale. Instead, focus on the value of the membership by including verbiage like “Membership starting at $99 per year” where $99 is your lowest membership level. People are price-sensitive so we need them to realize that they CAN afford the be members.
  2. Offer a family of products: Offer 3 or 4 value-level membership products. Assign an increasing amount of value/inclusions to each membership tier as you go from the most basic to the best. Here is an example:
    1. Bronze – Unlimited entry all year!
    2. Silver – Includes unlimited entry, free parking, and two complimentary special experiences
    3. Gold – Includes unlimited entry, unlimited special experiences, and free valet parking
  3. Price them Right: As educated consumers we all “do the math” to ensure we are getting a good value when we make purchases. At our admissions desks/windows, arriving guests do the same. Be sure that you consider the cost of your membership inclusions a la carte and then price your membership levels accordingly. For example, if your regular museum entry price is $19 per person and your Bronze Level Membership is $99 and includes admission for a family of 4 for the year…that may be the right price. Likewise, if your Gold Level Membership, which includes Valet Parking and Special Experiences, is priced at $199, this may also be just right. The point is to keep the pricing simple and so that it makes sense mathematically. When guests are able to easily perceive the value of membership, you will maximize your revenue.
  4. Sell Membership Products beside regular admissions: Membership should always be presented as a valuable alternative to a one-time admission. To ensure that you are reaching as many potential members as possible, you should never segregate your Membership products by selling them in a separate location from your general admission products. If necessary, combine your Admissions and Membership teams into one unified team that is trained to take care of ALL types of guest admission needs. You can certainly maintain a “Membership Desk”, but it should only be used as a convenience to assist with services for members, not as the exclusive outlet for selling memberships.

Everyday locals can be a significant revenue center for museums and other attractions. When a local visitor is converted from a Day Guest with a single admission to a Member who will be visiting all year, they are purchasing a premium product on their initial visit. These members then continue to support the facility during their membership when they purchase food and merchandise during their visits and when they bring friends and family members to visit as well.

Have a great week!