Here is an example of a smart way to position the benefits of a professional membership. I received this promotion in the mail the other day. The letter focused on the practical economic benefits of membership in this organization. One point was that membership was cheap unemployment insurance. Here is a quote from the letter:
“When I talk with younger colleagues, I have frequently described the value of STC membership as being a form of layoff insurance. Think about it: if you've accumulated a lot of additional skills and knowledge, you're more likely to weather layoffs because you will be more valuable to your employer. And even if you do get laid off, you'll probably be able to get another job quicker than your compatriots. Here's a little secret: STC members get a 14-day advance look at all the new job postings on the online Career Center. (It's an exclusive membership benefit.) That's a two-week head start on your competition.”
The lesson here is that people still make purchases during tough economic times. But their priorities and motivations change. Be sure that your marketing differentiates your organization as a solution.
 Society for Technical Communication, Membership Letter, October 1, 2008.