Why You Should Add a Little Sizzle To Your Member Benefits

By Brandon Carter | Updated on Aug 2, 2016 8:30:00 AM


5860529655_19f25b1149_b.jpgThink of a professional association or membership organization you’re a member of.

Now think of the benefits you get from being a member of said organization.

Maybe some networking, the occasional event. Access to a private online community, perhaps.

These are all fundamentals of a successful membership.

But dig deeper into the benefits. What else is there?

Is there anything that appeals to non-members, outsiders?

Is there anything that catches the attention? Anything unique, unusual, or intriguing?

Is there something you can use right now that will have a positive impact on your personal happiness or well-being?

Every membership organization needs their extra little something. A benefit tailored to their membership that speaks to their specific needs, or is just outright fun.member benefits

As odd as it sounds, it’s these ancillary member benefits that might make the difference between a one-term churn and a long-time, highly-engaged member.

Value is in the eye of the beholder

The path to member engagement and retention is more complicated than ever. As more businesses move to membership models, consumers are enabled to make more frequent judgments.

Your professional association is now on the same playing field as Netflix and Amazon Prime, for better or worse. And the judgments about renewal for all of those are based on perceived value.

Not what you think they’re getting, or what they should be getting out of membership. Value is in the eye of the beholder.

This means member benefits will be taking center stage. But it can’t just be the same-old. The same-old doesn’t work for many people. Not when it comes to dollars and cents.

More than ever, organizations need to add a little bit of fun to their membership benefits packages. These are benefits that pop off the page when a member is considering signing up. They’re the tipping point in a decision to join, and also the motivation to engage with the association every day.

Some member benefits are there to simply engage the member.

To quote an old saying, you’re not selling the steak, but the sizzle.

“Fun” or unique member benefits aren’t the meat of your offering. But they might be the sizzle that convinces someone to order the steak.

Think of networking and career and skill development as long-term benefits (the steak). Members will get to those at some point.

But between today and then, the association needs to earn some real estate in their minds.

Prove value early, and they’ll be willing to see what else you have to offer.

31195614.jpgWhat’s the Return on Sizzle?

Money is tight and budgets are better spent on core items when possible. We’re not advocating adding an expensive member benefit just for the sake of having it.


Sizzle is only good if it draws people to eat the steak.

First, drive members to try your benefits. Then strategically pull them into your deeper offerings.

If you’re working with a third party vendor, set goals and ask for usage data. As usage with the benefit increases, so will the member’s overall engagement.

Odds are you have a pretty good steak...I mean, organization. Your goals are worthwhile, your community rocks, your value is immeasurable.

Some members may get it immediately. They’ve got a plan and know that you can help them get there.

Others - maybe the majority of members - will need to be convinced. And the best way to do it is to appeal on several different levels. It all begins with benefits that have a return so obvious members can’t help but hear a sizzle.

member benefits case studies(Steak image courtesy of)

 2016 loyalty stats

Topics: Member Benefits

Written by: Brandon Carter

Brandon is a writer and marketer for Access Development. He's a frequent blogger on customer and employee engagement & loyalty, consumer trends, and branding.

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