Member Acquisition Made Easy with Words of Power

Words have power.

Just think. I transferred that thought directly from my brain to yours with nothing but a few squiggly marks on a screen. It’s almost like magic.

And others have said it far more eloquently than I did:

"Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble." -Yehuda Berg

"All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down." -Friedrich Nietzsche

"Words move hearts, and hearts move limbs." -Hamza Yusuf

In every language, it seems that certain words have a supercharged ability to influence emotions. Unfortunately, this is never more obvious than when people use words to hurt others. Yet there are many other words that can do positive things like lift spirits and inspire action.

In the world of membership organizations, employers and businesses—basically any relationship where businesses interact with real live people with real live emotions—we’ve learned that certain words hold an extra degree of power to attract, retain and engage.

Communicating with Members: Your Words are Promises

Many businesses find that communicating with members (current and prospective) is tricky business. Membership organizations in particular rely heavily on effective communication to convey the value of membership. Benefits are often intangible, needing the right words to paint a picture of how much better lives can be with this membership in it. That’s why organizations dedicate time and resources to gathering contact information, learning which channels their members prefer, and honing messages that inspire action.

Before all this, however, you have to capture people’s attention.


Research show you have about 8 seconds to capture someone’s attention – that’s the length of the average person’s attention span. How does that translate to written communication? When consider that most people can read about 250 words per minute, then you can guess that most people will drift away after the first 32 words unless you give them a reason to keep reading.

This is where superpowered words can help you. In every industry there are certain words that say more than its base definition. They tap into basic human wants and needs. They help to form the emotional connection that is necessary to keep your relationship with members strong. Most of all, they deliver a promise that can inspire people to give your membership a try. Just remember that you’ll have to keep those promises in order to convince them to stay.

Super Powered Words for Member Organizations

As a discount program provider, Access Development works with clients daily, developing more effective member acquisition strategies. Here is a list of words and phrases that we’ve found inspire greater engagement with an organization’s member benefits.


When you describe your membership options as being “exclusive,” you invite your members to be part of an elite crowd, to partake in something that is denied to most.

The idea of exclusivity taps into a person’s fear of missing out (FOMO) and the propensity to want what they can’t have. Genuine exclusivity keeps members engaged because you become the only available source for whatever it is they crave.

The inherent promise is that you actually do save your best content, benefits and offers for those who pay. In the case of tiered memberships, where people have the option to pay more to join a higher tier, members at the top expect the VIP treatment.

Ideas to help you deliver on the promise of exclusivity:

Member Engagement Strategy: White Label Travel Portal“You Belong”

When you say to a member “you belong,” you invite them to be a part of something bigger: your community, a shared purpose, the chance to better the world, etc. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, belongingness is described as a core human need, superseded only by physiological (e.g. food, sleep) and safety needs. People seek out interpersonal relationships to find acceptance and purpose.

Members who find that acceptance and purpose become the most fiercely loyal fans: the ones who proudly wear branded merch, who showcase products in beautifully composed Instagram photos, and who talk up member benefits to anyone who will listen. 

The good news is, most membership groups naturally draw together people of similar interests. After all, many are built to support those in a certain career, or develop skills to excel at a hobby.

The inherent promise is that you have a community worth joining. Members will expect that you provide a safe environment to share interests with like-minded people, and provide the resources to help them all succeed together.

Ideas to help you deliver on the promise of belonging:

      • Know and share your business’ why statement
      • Give a gesture of appreciation back to your members – hint: this doesn’t have to be expensive
      • Give opportunities to serve people and better the world
      • Give new members a warm welcome with an onboarding sequence that helps them become experts in no time

When you describe your membership as “easy,” “simple” or “painless,” you make a vow to do the heavy lifting.

silver platter

Some may even argue that members and customers are lazy, simply choosing whatever option is in front of them at the moment. If they are, it’s because the Internet and current marketing trends have fostered an environment where they haven’t had to work hard to fulfill their needs. People are constantly bombarded by targeted ads, introductory offers and big promises (that your competition may or may not intend to fulfill).

So when you describe your membership as easy, the inherent promise is that you will serve up the value on a silver platter. The good news is that when the value is high, members welcome regular reminders. Benefits should be as quick to access as pulling out a phone and firing up an app. Problems should be as easy to solve as calling in and talking to a person. In the case of rewards programs, reward currency needs to add up fast for easy redemption.

Ideas to help you deliver on the promise of ease:


When you describe your membership as being a “partnership,” you offer them the safety and security of being in a deep, ongoing relationship. People naturally want to stay where they feel heard and supported.

Customer Acquisition Strategy: Cash Back RewardsA partnership encourages stronger emotional bonds than other business/constituent relationships. After all, a simple transaction of money for goods or services can feel pretty routine, nothing to get excited about. Yet members who see an organization as essential partner they can turn to for solving many of life’s problems will associate that transaction with a whole host of good feelings, and as a result feel less hesitation when it comes time to renew.

The implied promise is that your successes are linked: that the member’s goals are your number one priority and you rely on their input to thrive yourself. Members will expect to find ongoing and consistent support.

Ideas to help you deliver on the promise of partnership:


When you use the word “value” in talking about member benefits, members tend to fixate on what they are going to get out of the relationship. A membership is often a significant investment for people. Even if your membership is free, you are asking people to give you their time, attention and often some personal data. And they expect big things in return.

In considering the value of an item or service, people most often look first at the monetary value—but they also consider its importance and relevance to their lives. They look at whether it can lend them status (as elite brands and prestigious certifications can), how it makes them feel, how their purchase makes the planet a better place to live (as sustainable brands and service opportunities can), and more.

Membership organizations in particular will need to be able to prove that a membership will add value to members’ lives, that it will be worth their time. That’s because there is an implied promise that members will receive more than they give.

Ideas to help you deliver on the promise of value:

Overdeliver on All Member Benefit Promises

When you use one of these words to describe your membership, the inherent promise becomes a contract with your members. The more power that a word has, the more consequences there will be for breaking that promises.

overdeliverWhether the promises are explicit or implied, members feel genuine hurt when they don’t see the follow through. As a result, some will walk away, many with the intention never to return. Others still will revolt, taking their revenge by bashing you on the internet, demanding compensation, etc. 

So what’s a business to do?

The obvious answer is to keep your promises. Members who receive exactly what they expect will be satisfied with the relationship. But really, the phrase “meets expectations” has come to describe a performance that is positive, but still smack dab in the middle of the bell curve (AKA average).

For even better results, businesses should aim to underpromise and overdeliver. Doing so ramps up those emotional responses from satisfaction to delight, elation, triumph and maybe even a bit of glee. Members with a strong emotional connection tend to stick around longer, buy more AND bring their friends along with them.

How to Overdeliver on BIG Member Benefit Promises

Because words like “exclusive” and “easy” come with big promises, you’ll need to do the work required to back them up. And you’ll need to complete the work BEFORE you make the promise.

The good news is, we have lots of member engagement ideas that any membership organization can use.

If it feels like your organization is miles away from where it needs to be, one solution is to partner with a membership benefit provider that can strengthen the requirements where you might be weak. For example, Access Development is a discount program provider that partners with organizations nationwide to encourage member engagement. Access provides private, deep discounts at local businesses and on travel expenses (exclusivity and value), promotes them regularly with your permission and backs them with concierge-level customer service (ease and partnership). Contact Access today if you'd like to learn more.

Until then, remember to use your new arsenal of super-powered words wisely. Do you know another word of power that should be on our list? Let us know below!

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Topics: Customer Engagement, Member Benefits, mobile discount programs, member acquisition, Discounts, membership discounts, membership perks

Written by: Kendra Lusty

For over a decade, Kendra Lusty has been a writer for Access Development, and currently focuses her research and writing on topics related to loyalty and engagement.

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