Belonging: The Power of Membership Marketing

Why is membership such a powerful mechanism to build relationship? Because properly understood, membership can build the platform of common vision, values, and valuables to produce belonging.

This desire to belong is beautifully explained by Simon Sinek in his analysis of an old Dr. Seuss story.

“In his 1961 story about the Sneetches, Dr. Seuss introduced us to two groups of Sneetches, one with stars on their bellies and the other with none. The ones without stars wanted desperately to get stars so they could feel like they fit in. They were willing to go to extreme lengths and pay larger and larger sums of money simply to feel like they were part of a group. But only Sylvester McMonkey McBean, the man whose machine puts ‘stars upon thars,’ profited from the Sneetches’ desire to fit in.

As with so many things, Dr. Suess explained it best. The Sneetches perfectly capture a very basic human need – the need to belong. Our need to belong is not rational, but it is a constant that exists across all people in all cultures. It is a feeling we get when those around us share our values and beliefs. When we feel like we belong we feel connected and we feel safe. As humans we crave the feeling and we seek it out.”1

Do you agree that belonging is a basic human need? Is membership a way to help meet this need?

1. Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Penguin Group, 2009, page 53.


Barnes said...

Membership in the 21st century is a commodity not a 'need'. Membership has the connotation of being something one must pay for to get access to something not otherwsie available yet most Associations do not offer anything anymore that is not freely available elsewhere.

Engagement and contributorship is far more beneficial in this Century to both parties and should be the focus for 21st Century Associations.

Tony Rossell said...

Perhaps you can explain further what this 21st century membership looks like in your mind that includes engagement and contributorship. I would like to understand you perspective better.

Brow said...

What I think Barnes might be seeing is a lack of "need" in devalued memberhsip. We're sitting in the middle of a recession, and most institutions are looking to make their membership more accessible.

While I'm all for dropping costs in our membership department, you need to make sure you don't devalue your service/product. And maybe I'm a "20th century guy" but I think contributership is based around relationship building which for us is done through Membership.

Anonymous said...

My two cents is that most Associations are about raising money. Not about spreading their message. An association today needs to provide value and a "feel good" to their members. Along with all that a true set of benefits.