For those of us that have been through the evolution of TV from FREE access to today's streaming subscription model, the evolution of membership dues and online content are following the same progression...
Long gone are the 1960's and 70's when most TV was FREE. TV way back then was a choice of 3 channels which were fully funded by advertisement. Then along came cable with the proliferation of specialty channels that you could include with your monthly subscription fee. This fee, as well as channel advertising was how the industry was funded. A handful of years ago, disruption began to take hold of the TV industry in the form of Netflix and other streaming services. A Netflix subscription was a fraction of a cable bill and allowed you to pick and choose what you watch and when you watch it. Netflix has turned the TV industry on its head. The interesting point here is the funding model - completely subscription based.
A parallel can be drawn with association membership and content. Before the Internet, content was deployed to members via trade and industry magazines. Other than conferences, this is how members received and consumed content. Think of the magazine as a single TV channel. Also interesting to note was how the magazine was funded...completely through advertising. Once the Internet came along, associations realized that they would need to deploy more content on a variety of channels, including print (magazine) and online. Part of member dues were allocated to special types of content revolving around education etc. Today, significant disruption is taking place for all associations as members now have access to unlimited content choice. Unfortunately much of the content choices has nothing to do with the association. This access to unlimited content has created downward pressure on member dues as members are now starting to question the relevance of their membership based on the content they are receiving from the association. To make up the revenue shortfall, we are now starting to see associations increasingly rely on non-dues revenue.
How are associations creating new non-dues revenue?
Many associations are creating new non-dues revenue streams by creating opportunities to sponsor content such as video expert series and video conference recaps. Sponsors are hungry for meaningful content, and video is the main course to satisfy that appetite. Although associations are finding success by adding video to sponsorship opportunities, many are not using video strategically to satisfy members content needs. Your members crave a variety of content. Most of your members want that content in the form of video. Some of that content will have no interest for a partner to sponsor, nor should there be any sponsorship attached. However, this content is critical to keeping your members engaged and inspired. Ideally, you are creating a content calendar that is full of video content that satisfies your individual member's need for interest and variety. If all you are doing is serving up video that your partners have sponsored, you are short changing your members and they will get the content they need from other sources.
The lesson to learn here is to create enough non-dues revenue to allow you to fund and create a full, meaningful content calendar that will be relevant and engaging to members. You must give members choice, letting them pick the content that is of most interest to them. Some of that content will not be sponsored, but it is still critical to serve it up to your membership.
To learn more about how to create your full content calendar and learn your potential for non-dues revenue click on the button below.
Association TV® is a division of WorkerBee.TV. Dan Stevens is President of WorkerBee.TV and is a sought after guest speaker on association trends.