Five tips to help kick-start your membership value proposition refresh

Reinvigorating your membership value proposition may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be that way, says senior content strategist Martin Bewick.

Setting out to refresh your membership value proposition (MVP) can feel like a big, big ask. The same can be said when you set out to tackle other broad-based outputs of strategic marketing aimed at long-term transformation.

The goal is to demonstrate value for the membership fee. This means you need to question, from the outset, the link between the benefits you offer and the desires of your audience. Then you need to plan to create positive engagement around them. This is often when CPL One comes in to help an organisation test their insights, make recommendations, and develop and deliver useful communications around the MVP.

Ultimately, your MVP needs to give your audience a reason to join, and then stay as a member. But does yours do this? And how do you know? 

When you start asking these questions, you may see obstacles that can throw the transformation process off course. Indeed, refreshing your MVP might feel like opening a can of worms, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

From our experience of working with clients and hearing from membership professionals over the past year, here are our five tips to consider when starting to discuss your MVP refresh.

1. You’re not jumping off a cliff – even if it initially feels like it

First of all, don’t panic. Revisiting your MVP may sometimes feel like a ‘would like’ rather than a ‘must have’. It may leave you thinking: ‘The board hasn’t asked for it.’ ‘Our members haven’t demanded it.’ ‘Our team hasn’t the time.’ ‘Why make the leap now?’ In reality, however, reconsidering your MVP is rarely the daring leap it might initially seem. It’s simply a process of testing what you think you know about your services and your members, and adapting to or incorporating new findings. Think evolution, not revolution. It’s about building from the foundations and principles that delivered success in the first place. So don’t fear it. Which leads us to…

2. Transformation is a path you’re already on

If you’re reading this, you may already realise that the way you demonstrate member value is changing, or needs to. From here, it’s the route forward that you need to navigate. Which way is quickest? Where could you make the most impact? Which communications channels might prove most effective? With a little guidance, the answers to these questions can become clear. Remember, too, that your MVP is foundational, so don’t worry about finding all the answers in the next quarter. Instead, play the long game. The challenge you’re tackling was there before you began the work, and will not disappear once this project is completed. Your MVP is the organisation’s lifeblood. It needs ongoing care, and a refresh is part of that commitment. 

3. You can’t please all the people all the time

This is one we come back to again and again. Of course, you may encounter some resistance and scepticism from internal stakeholders. So, pick your battles and get the right people onside by explaining what the objectives are and why they are right for the organisation. Also, accept you won’t reach all of your potential audience at the same time, in the same way, achieving the same results. What is the most urgent goal? Is there a particular member benefit or career stage that needs attention? Perhaps you could prioritise that. Or concentrate on rearticulating your basic promise to members before starting to target specific, harder-to-reach, or harder-to-convert sections of your membership. 

4. Your call to arms needs to be clear

To take stakeholders with you on your MVP journey, your objective – and the way you communicate it – needs to be clear, consistent, inclusive and useful. This is imperative if the action plan is to cascade through the organisation and out to members. Your MVP rollout needs clear instructions for all stakeholders across touchpoints. Remember, what you’ve planned needs to be actioned and actioned again. That means it needs to be ingrained into the culture. Think beyond your stint explaining the MVP plan. Who will take it up? Can you pass on the baton? Who to? And what tools might they need to take it off your hands? This, too, needs to be part of the plan.

5. Data and insight are your allies

When your action plan is founded on quantitative and qualitative research it’s more likely to deliver. For example, quantitative data may tell you where the disconnects are, and qualitative data how to fix them. However you gain your insights, delivering a reinvigorated MVP is usually easier when you can fix on the one clear reason for the refresh. Anchor to that. This reason is the ‘why’ of what you are doing. Ensure your actions are consistent with it. From there, it’s about listening, acting on your knowledge, and ensuring the people to whom you have listened continue to be heard.

Find out how CPL One helped to create a membership value proposition for the Royal College of General Practitioners.