How to Increase Non-Dues Revenue
What would your members say if they knew you wanted to increase non-dues revenue? They’d probably say, “How about doing more for me as a member? Increase the value you provide, and I’ll be more likely to increase my funding.”
Start by delivering more value
Instead of looking through the lens of increasing revenue, let’s evaluate this opportunity by introducing the value equation V = Q/P, where value, V, equals quality, Q, divided by price, P. It’s a simple ratio—a proven relationship. If you want members to increase the non-dues funding they allocate to your products and service offerings, you must increase the value they derive from your organization. How can you do that? Focus on the numerator of the value equation—add more quality.
What defines “quality” for your members?
We know that advocacy is often an important variable that defines quality for the organizations that are members of your association. It’s one of the main reasons many organizations pay their dues. However, non-dues revenue is typically an individual’s choice. The member, not the institution, must decide whether they want to allocate funds beyond their dues. Therefore, you must compete with a host of corporate providers—and other associations—for the attention of your audience. How can you cut through the clutter?
Answer: Consult the corporate playbook
Corporations don’t just sell products—they build brand relationships that allow them to establish loyalty, command premium margins and inoculate customers from competitive offers. Corporations have long understood that a brand relationship is superior to a series of one-off transactions. The good news is that associations can adopt the best marketing thinking from corporate America and evolve to build a brand relationship that adds value.
Your secret weapon is . . .
Your annual event! It’s your association’s best opportunity to deliver value and build brand loyalty among members. An event is such a powerful media platform because it allows you to show members what you stand for, the value you deliver, and how you bring the entire community together to advance the industry.
Align your event strategy with your non-dues revenue goals
We live in a media-saturated world, which means it’s not easy for an association like yours to stand out and secure the attention of distracted members. However, your association can harness the power of live media—your annual event, as well as the series of conferences you hold every year—to capture the attention of your most engaged members in person. If your goal is to increase non-dues revenue by showcasing the value you deliver, a strategically planned event is the ideal forum in which to do it.
Here are three proven ways to increase non-dues revenue using your event to make it happen:
PROMOTE YOUR THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
Commission a research study on the hottest topic in your industry. Then reveal the results at your next annual event. Then offer syndication and customized value to your member companies for the next 12 months. No budget for a study? Think again. The right research firm will do the heavy lifting in exchange for a portion of the revenue.
FIND OUT WHAT YOUR MEMBERS REALLY WANT
Host an “Innovators Forum” at your next event with a hand-selected group of industry providers. This will allow providers to conduct focus groups, showcase new products and test new ideas in a super-efficient fashion. Business partners, sponsors and exhibitors will line up and pay a premium to conduct this type of research. In return, your members will get the products they want, and you’ll gain insight into how they think.
ENGAGE YOUR EMERGING LEADERS—NOW
Build loyalty among your best and brightest members by offering unique educational programs and mentoring opportunities. Select a core group of emerging leaders and have fun with it. Kick off your next event with a boot camp specifically for emerging leaders within member organizations. You could even host a mentorship breakfast or offer special membership fees for young professionals. Establishing a new, loyal constituency will not only make your organization stronger from the ground up, it will pay huge dividends that result in future non-dues revenue.
These examples are just the beginning. Events help you deliver more value, which leads to new sources of revenue and increased brand preference (when your members will not accept substitutes for what you can deliver). A high brand preference is the Holy Grail of marketing.
Keep the fire alive
You can leave a lasting, positive impression on members long after any event is over. A strong brand relationship creates the best opportunities to increase value and, ultimately, your non-dues revenue from individual members. People—not companies—renew memberships, take advantage of your offerings, attend events, go to trainings and, most importantly, seek out new ways to be successful. The key is to maintain the momentum your event creates, all year long.
Plain and simple: To increase non-dues revenue, focus on delivering more value to your members through your live events. The revenue will follow.
Albert Einstein famously said, “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”
I couldn’t agree more.