Ticketsolve Campaign Considerations - Memberships

27 Sep 2019 | Marketing

Remember the old American Express strapline? “Membership has its benefits” is certainly true, but what is the best mix of offerings for your members?

Membership programmes are a staple of the arts. They are one of the best ways to build loyalty and show appreciation to your best customers. Memberships can also help attract and develop new audiences. This week, we’ll take a look at membership schemes: targeting a variety of audiences and offering the right balance of benefits.

Who to Target with Membership Options

Whether you have an established membership programme or are starting fresh, data is your first stop. You might be wondering why, if you already have a running membership programme, you need to check your data at all. 

Customer data is a great first step to help you to see who are your best customer segments to target with membership offers. The data could also reveal new audiences that might be open to a specific or special type of membership offer. 

For most arts organisations, the best approach is to take your customer segments and develop a programme to capture the customers most likely to benefit from membership. 

A Tiered Approach

It is likely that what will fall out from the data and audience segments is that you need to take a tiered approach to your membership programme. A one size fits all approach may work for some venues (take a look at the data), but it means that some customer segments may fall through the cracks. 

Creating tiers of memberships gives you the chance to draw more people in at a level they are comfortable with and allows you to create customised memberships that people really want to be a part of. You can have any many tiers as you want, but be sure each tier has clear benefits and are different steps up the membership ladder.

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Creating An Effective Membership Programme

Once you have your target customers and an idea of the tiers you would like to offer, the next step is to consider the goals for each tier. What you are trying to achieve? Are you targeting donors to convert to memberships? Are you looking to upsell? Is it re-attendance? Perhaps it is all of the above. Understanding your customer wants and needs, but also what your organisation needs to achieve is the membership sweet spot!

Each goal (upsell, re-attendance) will need a specific benefit (discount, freebies etc.) to spark a member to join.


What to offer? 

So what should each level of your membership programme entail? Typically you are looking at a mix of freebies, perks, and discounts. The trick here is to implement ideas that are desirable to your audiences, but not hugely restrictive financially, time-consuming or admin heavy. 

  • Discounts/Offer

This is a very common membership benefit. How much of a discount and/or what offers you want to give are entirely up to you. Again data can be your guide here and help you to understand what each tier would find most attractive. For example, Studio 3- Ariel School offers a 1-month membership option, which is very attractive to people looking for a shorter-term commitment. 

  • Early bird announcements

York University’s theatre offers their members a preview of the new season. This email is a great example of how you can encourage members to book in shows early for the upcoming season. 

  • Priority bookings

St John’s Smith Square offers priority booking among many other benefits. An interesting detail in their programme is that depending on the tier of Friend (membership), is how far in advance you get priority booking.

  • Free stuff

Harlow Playhouse offers tiered membership and a great freebies for those choosing the Harlow Playhouse Champion tier, where members can get two show invitations as a guest of the Playhouse director, plus a free class and free coffee or tea at each visit. 

  • Newsletters and E-zines

The Ark is a great example of how incorporating a members-only e-zine can work really well for attracting new members. Members also get (among other benefits), discounts at partner establishments.  

  • Behind the scenes/Backstage and more

For example, New Theatre Royal Lincoln offers just one membership, but it is packed with great benefits. They include a backstage tour, cheaper parking, merch and of course discounts. 

  • Special Events/Networking  

This might seem like an odd one, but if you think about, your members likely have similar interests. Why not offer a special event or a networking opportunity for your members to get to know each other?  

National Gallery, for example, offer Friends Events, where members can get together, relax, network - and even get creative.

With that in mind, we’d like to invite you to join us for Forum 2019! It’s a chance to get out of the office, meet your arts and culture peers, recharge the batteries and learn from one another. It’s amazing to see how ideas spark when creative people get together! 

We look forward to seeing you all soon!

Sing Me Up to the Forum

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