3 Ways B2B Brands Should Use Membership To Grow Advocate Loyalty

VIP - members only vector background card template with stars anWe are living in a Membership Economy.

The Membership Economy is a term I coined to describe a massive change I have been documenting over the past 11 years, and recently wrote about in my book by the same name. Organizations have slowly been changing their focus from ownership to access; from transactions to relationships; and from having anonymous customers to really knowing their top advocates.

When executed properly, a membership program will make customers feel like they belong to something special, and that they are appreciated for their unique contributions. Organizations like it for obvious reasons: recurring revenue and long-term loyalty!

Companies like Uber, Pinterest, Facebook, WeightWatchers and Pandora, as well as nonprofits like the AARP, Sierra Club and the American Geophysical Union, understand the power of membership. They’ve reimagined how to engage people by treating them like members of a special club instead of one-time customers.

Driving customer advocacy starts with building authentic, deep relationships. Members, by definition, have better relationships with organizations than regular customers. If you really care about having strong relationships, start seeing your customers as members. How are you welcoming them? Creating two-way conversations between them and your organization? Connecting with them on an emotional level?

This yearning for authentic connections is not limited to consumers. All people want to belong, and be recognized for their accomplishments. And guess what? Businesses are full of people! We spend a lot of time at work, and hope to get just as much personal satisfaction on the job as we do in our private lives. B2B companies have the ability to create a real connection.

Here are a few ways three successful B2B companies have leveraged the idea of the Membership Economy to drive their business growth.

1. Create processes for onboarding of new members, so they’re engaged from the outset

When a new member joins LinkedIn, they only need to provide the most basic information to gain access to the community. But once they join, they are encouraged to populate their profile and connect with friends and colleagues—and their status is rated. I’m designated a LinkedIn Allstar, because I’ve included all of my work history, recruited all my contacts to join LinkedIn, and posted content that might be useful for others. By showing me how to be a good member, they made it easy for me to feel like I belong, which in turn has motivated me to devote a lot of time to the LinkedIn community.

2. Identify and reward superusers, the most engaged and evangelical of members

Salesforce, named “The World’s Most Innovative Company” for 4 years running, has invested heavily in its “MVP program”. This program was created to recognize standouts in the Salesforce community for their leadership, expertise and ongoing contributions. The reward? They get to do more! More speaking opportunities, more access to Salesforce leadership, and more opportunities to market the brand (including sporting cool branded gear). It’s pretty smart—and worth emulating.

3. Use customer feedback to create long-term value—and relationships

SurveyMonkey successfully transitioned from a single monthly fee to a three-tiered pricing model so they could cater to large enterprise companies and keep their loyal core of smaller customers happy. To do this, they collected feedback—both qualitative and quantitative—from their superusers. Then, they created their new pricing levels based on the customized experience each group craved. The higher prices offered more value to their enterprise customers, while the base price appealed to the needs of their smaller user group.

What is going to drive your advocates to want to help you? All kinds of organizations are competing to win the attention of their top evangelists. Unfortunately, these evangelists don’t have time to engage in every community they’re invited to. Think about what kind of experience you need to provide them with to engage them. If you want to attract and leverage superusers, your organization needs to create a Membership Economy.