Six Components to Building Your Membership Model

Membership models are a hot topic these days. I am speaking with a number of clients about options on how to build new memberships or adapt current categories.

Instead of trying to build an exhaustive list of the different membership models now being deployed, I thought that it might be of more value to outline the components that go into and can be changed to form a new membership.

I have identified six levers that an organization can adjust in a membership product. By thinking through and making decisions in each of these areas you can define the membership model that best fits your organization and the needs in the market.

Here are the six elements that go into building a membership model.

1. Participants – Who do you want as participants in the membership? This can be defined as specific markets or market segments. It can also be defined as whether the membership is for individuals or groups of people in organizations or companies.

2. Value – What products and services are desired by your market that you are able to deliver to the membership? Providing value involves both understanding the need for content, community, savings, etc. and also your knowledge and ability to deliver what is needed.

3. Term – When do you want the membership to start and to end? For many organizations the standard term of membership is a year. But many memberships – like health clubs – offer a monthly membership term. Others require multiple years of membership tied to an event like certification

4. Fulfillment – Where do you want to deliver membership benefits? There is a growing shift from providing a paper based or in localized in-person membership to an electronic only membership.

5. Price – How much, if anything, do you want to charge for the membership? Memberships can range from tens of thousands of dollars to just a few dollars a year. And increasingly, the concept of ‘Freemium” membership is being tried by organizations where membership is used to build community or engagement as part of a larger economic strategy.

6. Purpose – Why do you want to create the membership? The ability to create a membership model and an economic plan to sustain it are very important in planning, but Tom Collins also points to doing what you are deeply passionate about as a foundation for success.

To build your new membership model, I suggest that you look at each of these membership components and list all of the options under each that are available to you. How you mix and match each of these options will form the outline for the membership model that best fits your organization and the needs in the marketplace.

Please feel free to post a comment here if you think that I have missed any important membership components here.