By Brandon Carter | Updated on May 15, 2014 5:55:00 AM
There's a restaurant here in Salt Lake that has amazing cheesesteak sandwiches. They're nationally known for them, in fact. The place started out humbly enough, as a small kitchen serving up sandwiches in the back of a pottery gift shop. Eventually word got out about the sandwiches, and within a couple of years the pottery gift shop had to find a new space.
What was supposed to be a nice side benefit for those buying some pottery eventually became the entirety of the business. I'm sure the pottery was nice, but those cheesesteaks were...just...wow.
Right now, Farm Bureaus have millions of members. But many of those folks are unaware of the larger benefits of being a member, outside of insurance policies.
Based on our own informal research, as much as 90% of a Farm Bureau's clientele are there for the insurance. A large percentage of those members are entirely unaware that insurance is merely a benefit of membership with a farm bureau. They don't know about political outreach, education programs, community involvement, and the other myriad activities carried out by a Farm Bureau.
This shouldn't be thought of as a problem, but as an opportunity.
Farm Bureaus can stand on their own with or without insurance. We know that; most members don't. The secret: most people need an incentive, or a gentle nudge, to care about something.
This is why benefits are so important to any organization. It can be as simple as opening a mobile coupon app that prominently features the Bureau's logo. That earned trust opens people up to more messaging from the organization.
Then, the advantages of membership - beyond the discount program - have to be communicated. We say advantages because most people will probably just want to know how they're benefiting by being a member of the bureau. Because there is member engagement with the benefits, there'll be more of an interest in the greater advantages of the organization.
The great thing about engaging people through relevant member benefits, besides an increased interest in the program's overall goals, is it pays off when it's time for the member to renew their membership. Ideally, they'll be educated on the Bureau's important business items, and they'll have saved money through the discount program - the decision becomes a no-brainer.
Think about your favorite retail store. Odds are you originally visited the store in search of one specific item - let's say a dress shirt. The shirt worked out well, so the next time back to that store you picked up another one, but also tried on a pair of slacks. After three or four positive visits that store became your go-to destination for clothing. You probably even joined their loyalty program and get their new items and sales sent straight to your inbox.
Consumers very rarely dive in head first; they give brands opportunities to prove themselves in small, progressive pieces.
Farm Bureaus will always have great things going on - as long as people are eating, there'll be a need for the people who actually create that food, right? - and a good percentage of a Bureau's members will always be there for insurance. But by treating it as an opportunity to engage members with value and serve up important organizational messages alongside that value, Farm Bureaus won't be the pottery shop to the insurance benefit's cheesesteak - they'll be equal partners, serving up delicious meals to people looking for lovely vases.