There’s been a lot of talk recently by social media pundits about what they charge for and what is free. It used to be that someone could buy you a cup of coffee or lunch and “pick your brain.” But as more and more people hang their “consultant” shingles, allowing for free brain picking negatively effects their bottom line. So they erect a toll as gated entry into their heads. Writers have the same problem. From our friends to our family, people are always asking us to write them a little something or tweak their resume. While blogging has increased the size of our platform, it has also decreased our value.
Member-based organizations are fighting similar battles. Many potential members are wondering “why join if we can network on LinkedIn?” From associations to chambers, finding that mix of the right dues level coupled by exclusive events worth becoming a part of an organization for is a continuous stressor. SCD group featured a couple of interesting posts on this – Reinventing Membership as a Revenue Tool for Associations and Five Issues Impacting the Future of Associations and Nonprofits.
Where is the appropriate line? How do you decide what content is available to all and what privileges people will pay for? It’s something each organization needs to reflect on, revisit and make public. If you decide to offer 90% of your content and activities to everyone (regardless of membership) and lock 10% down for members only, you must communicate what that 10% is. We are a curious species. Create teasers, entice your audience to move forward with you to this “walled garden” of exclusive activities and content. If they don’t know about it, they won’t desire to be a part of it. American Express had the idea when they created the ad campaign of “membership has its privileges.” Create a desire, an incentive to join, a “need” for what you plan on charging for. Show a little something, without revealing a lot. Without this sort of “seduction” a freemium dues model will not work.