Non-Dues Revenue-Generating Ideas for Associations
Your association’s buyer’s guide is a great tool for disseminating information and products to your association members. But if you’re using it only to sell your members on retaining their membership, you’re selling yourself short when generating ideas for non-dues revenue.
So how can your association use its buyer’s guide to generate additional revenue for your association? Well, first, we need to talk about what kind of buyer’s guide we have already.
Tailor-Making Your Buyer’s Guide
We all know the old adage, “know your audience”. And it’s an important thing to keep in mind for your association. Especially when we’re thinking about ways to generate additional value that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the core values of your association.
But perhaps you’re not even trying to reach your loyal association members. These are all key ideas to consider when we’re talking about buyer’s guides and their ability to add to your total revenue.
Different Types of Buyer’s Guides
The first type of buyer’s guide for your association to consider is one for a first-time buyer. What can you offer a member who has never purchased any of your association’s goods or services?
We want to clearly and concisely lay out the process and benefits of everything that we have to offer our members. What can we tell them without overloading? Think of how you sell at trade shows. What is your elevator pitch?
Compare and Contrast
Of course, you have more to offer your members than a single product or service. But we know that perhaps, what’s right for some, isn’t right for all. Here’s your chance to go a little more in depth with what you can offer. What additional member benefits are you able to provide? What are the benefits of one product or service in comparison to another?
This is your opportunity to show that you can understand your members on a personal basis. Show that you understand what makes your base diverse, as well as unified.
Here’s another idea that is not unfamiliar: upselling. If you’ve got your members in the door already, you know that you’ve got something they want. Hopefully, it’s also something that no one else can offer them. If you’re offering branded merchandise, it is likely that this is the case.
So what can you do to further separate your association from the herd and become a front runner? You need to show your audience that your products and services are not the end of the road. What can we tack on to further the experience of inclusion and membership?
We want our members to feel that we are with them every step of the way. So our buyer’s guides shouldn’t stop once the check is cleared. For members who have opted in, provide a buyer’s guide that acts as an instructional manual.
Show them how to use your products and services, but don’t let it stop right there. Show your gratitude for your members’ continued patronage (especially outside of simply paying their membership dues). If possible, offer certifications to your members through your buyer’s guides. This will bolster that feeling of inclusion, which is exactly where we’d like to stay.
Formatting Tips for Any Type of Buyer’s Guides
No matter if we’re writing guides for first-time buyers, or people who have had our products or services for years, you want your guide to be simple. This doesn’t mean simply using monosyllabic phrases, but again being clear and concise.
Avoid long-winded phrases and too much jargon. We want this to be something anyone could use to help them. Even if someone were to pick your buyer’s guide up off the street, they should be able to take a clear understanding from it.
It can also be very helpful to break up your guides into small paragraphs with lots of appropriate headings. Long paragraphs are sure to have your members losing their place. And more importantly, they’re going to lose interest and stop reading.
We live in a fast-paced world, and part of understanding that is having information readily available. Use a content page or bold headers to easily direct your members to the information they need and want see most.
According to a poll by Association Adviser, more than half of associations believed that sources of non-dues revenue accounted for 25-50% of their gross revenue stream every year. Clearly, there is a lot of money to be made in creating non-dues revenue.
If you’re successfully selling something you and your members believe in, you’ll be able to create an increase in non-dues revenue. Whether you’re using advertising sales, retail sales, merchandise sales, or providing services, make sure it aligns with the values and needs of your members. Think of the reasons why your members invest time and money into your association and follow that line of thought.
Put it Into Practice
So now that we’ve talked about the different kinds of buyer’s guides, and what makes a good one, so it’s time to think about how you’re putting it into practice. What’s going to be your venue for these buyer’s guides?
If you have a lot of physical interaction with your members, maybe you want to have that physical buyer’s guide. However, increasingly we live in a digital world. If you have a strong social media presence, don’t ignore it!
This can be a great place to reach a really wide audience. Social media has the added benefit of allowing your members to easily help you share your goods and information with friends and colleagues who might be equally interested.
Generating Non-Dues Revenue
No matter how you plan to generate revenue outside of membership dues, always stay true to your association. There’s nothing that can turn an audience quicker than feeling like they’ve been lied to. So don’t lie to yourself either. There is easy money out there to be made, but you don’t have to do it at the expense of your association’s integrity, or your members’.