The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

Blow Up Your Members' Only Area Immediately

Posted by Chris Bonney on Wed, Jul 01, 2009

    

Chris Anderson has a new book out that has started quite a buzz on the blogosphere.

Why You No Longer Have A Real Member Benefit

Reading all the blog posts about Anderson's new book  brings me back to the point I make over and over again to associations: If your members' only content (behind your login) is nothing spectacular, is short of remarkable, then make it free (no login). There is so much "good enough" information on the Internet that your members and, more importantly, your potential members have access to, that unless you can really offer content they can't get anywhere else, you're really not offering a member benefit at all.

But you're different, right?

The example I use regularly to refute associations who feel that the new paradigm doesn't apply to them is MIT OpenCourseware. If MIT can give away virtually every single course they teach online, but for some reason your special report requires people to plunk down $300 to see it, well, I'd say you may have an off strategy. MIT's goal is to educate the world, not get more student enrollments. If your association's goal is to get more members, then I'd say you may need to go back to the drawing board. More members is not a goal, it' a tactic. It's a residual effect of doing something else really well. MIT understands this and is offering the world a way to experience education for free. In turn, enrollment has not suffered and students like the courseware as a complement to their existing course work.

Check This Out

Chris Brogan's post about Mark Cuban's response to Chris Anderson (still with me?) is worth reading. Read Tim Sanders' take on this idea of "all things free" as well. This truly is a new world and the association that gets it first will prosper. If you're waiting for your members to tell you what they want...too bad. They are already on a Facebook group they find more relevant than anything they can find behind your archaic members' only wall.

Topics: free, web strategy, web 2.0, social media, members only, association technology, associations

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