Development

Business membership organisations: commercial dynamite, or business dinosaur?

As many of you will know, I created and run the GlosBiz® initiative on a voluntary and not-for-profit basis.

In just 7 years, the initiative has become Gloucestershire’s largest business network, and one of the many questions I am regularly asked about it is why do I have a commitment to never charge membership fees.

The main reason is simple – I aim for the GlosBiz® initiative to be equally accessible to every Gloucestershire business, from the newest to the oldest, and the smallest to the largest, and for them all to feel equally valued, no matter who they are.

But membership-based organisations, almost by definition, simply cannot do this. They are obliged to give their members at least some sort of priority, and other benefits, or what would be the point of stumping up the, often very high, membership fees?

So, a couple of months ago, when I was first thinking of writing this article, I started to look for some research data on business memberships, and ended up gathering some data from Gloucestershire businesses who belonged to a range of business membership fee-based organisations and networks locally.

Eventually, I managed to collect data from 100 Gloucestershire businesses, ranging in size between 2 and over 500 employees, having asked them the simple questions below, and here are the results:

Do you consider your membership fees to represent good value and provide benefits for your business?

Yes                                  32%

No                                   45%

Don’t know                   23%

How much do you pay for your annual membership fees?

£0-£200p.a.                 58%

£201-£500p.a.             37%

£500p.a. or more        5%

Do you carefully review whether or not to renew your membership at the end of each membership year?

Yes                                  38%

No                                   48%

Don’t know                    14%

Do you consider your membership good value (N.B.: as a percentage of those who responded in Q2 above)?

£0-£200p.a.                 40%

£201-£500p.a.             22%

£500p.a. or more        0%

Do you consider your membership poor value (N.B.: as a percentage of those who responded in Q2 above)?

£0-£200p.a.                 38%

£201-£500p.a.             47%

£500p.a. or more        100%

Instead of paying annual membership fees, would you move to a membership free or low-cost monthly subscription organisation if you received the same benefits?

Yes                                  88%

No                                   2%

Don’t know                   10%

 

So, what conclusions can we extract from this (simple) data set?

  • Membership-free or low cost monthly subscription would be the preferred option for the considerable majority of respondents
  • Potentially, almost two-thirds of respondents do not review their memberships each year(!)
  • The higher the membership fees, the more likely respondents were to consider them poor value

Now for the ‘but’…

  • Please remember this data was collected from just 100 of the approximately 35,000 businesses in Gloucestershire
  • Whilst the number of businesses belonging to business membership organisations, as a proportion of the total number of businesses, is quite small (hard data is difficult to obtain, but ‘typical’ figures suggest somewhere between 2% and 12% of the total belong to some kind of business membership organisation)
  • Belonging to a business membership organisation seems in a large part to be down to a personal decision, rather than purely a business decision

 

To find out more about the GlosBiz® initiative, or how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a successful business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://adrianmalpass.com">
LinkedIn