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A strong membership base can help associations thrive. 

As for-profit businesses have started to realize this and build their own membership models, they’ve also started to embrace strategies associations can borrow to attract potential members.

Take NBC, for example. The broadcast network’s streaming service, Peacock, operates using a Freemium plan. The app offers some TV shows, movies and original content for free, but the network’s most popular content is available exclusively for members.

That includes seven seasons of the 2000s sitcom, “The Office,” plus extras including bloopers and extended episodes with never-before-seen footage. 

By offering the first two seasons of what’s likely one of its most-popular offerings — “The Office” was the most-streamed television show in 2020, according to Neilsen data — potential subscribers are getting first-hand access to what they’ll experience as a paying customer. 

Peacock also curates content for users under categories including “trending” and “popular” to help them decide what to watch.

How can associations replicate this?

While the chances you’ve got an Emmy winning sitcom to use to entice new members are slim, what you do have are several pieces of content that show your association’s value. 

Keep these tips in mind when deciding what to use in your freemium content plan:

Your free content should offer a glimpse of your best paywalled content.

Instead of simply telling people about the benefits of being a member, use freemium content to show them your organization’s strengths. The content you offer for free should provide a compelling alternative to what’s behind a paywall and help potential members see the value in joining. 

For example, your association could write a blog based on a case study, produce a video on a timely issue or run an engaging social media campaign to catch a potential member’s attention. 

Your organization also could consider launching a podcast featuring interviews with notable members, instantly allowing listeners to experience the conversations they could have after joining.

Be thoughtful about content curation. 

People are no longer joining associations just to gain access to the latest industry news and insights — there are many ways to get updates that don't involve membership fees and commitments.

This is where getting smart about content curation can pay off. 

MORE: How savvy content curation can position your association as a thought leader

Associations should aim to position themselves as a go-to place for information that members can actually use. Curating content from outside sources, including affiliate organizations or industry partners, and sharing it with your members can help your association.

People will know they can go to your website or your blog to find the best information regardless of where it comes from.

Heather Nolan
Post by Heather Nolan
April 5, 2021
Heather a skilled communicator with expertise in social media and marketing strategy, brand management and journalism. She uses storytelling and audience growth skills to help companies showcase their brand and expand their reach.