One of the nice features I like about some online shopping experiences is the companion marketing feature. When I purchase a book say, the online site looks at people that bought the same book as myself and then presents me with a list of other titles they have bought. This works much better than if the online vendor had simply provided a list of ‘other recommended purchases’.
My confidence in following advice from other consumers, who at face value appear to hold similar interest to me, is likely to be much higher than recommendations from the vendor. Not only is my trust level higher, the actual relevance is likely to be higher.
This same principle can be applied to membership organisations. Success of companion marketing is likely to be even higher than the general consumer example since a common bond already unites members. By virtue of belonging to a membership organisation the participants already share common interests or are likely to be stimulated by similar products and experiences.
A success criteria for membership organisations is serving the needs of their members well. On that basis, companion marketing should be a win-win for both the member and the organisation. The latter is likely to improve sales and participation, and the member is likely to benefit by getting relevant product and service offerings.
For example, let’s say I am a member of the Australian Paediatric Society and have recently attended an industry-specific seminar. Afterwards, I learn that 75% of the fellow members that attended the seminar also purchased a supporting book that describes new advances in childhood treatment practices. I’m more likely to purchase a copy for myself, knowing that colleagues in my industry have already done so. There is an implied recommendation.
In order for membership organisations to offer this type of service to their members the organisation needs to be gathering and analysing activities of its members. A simple database to capture the information is a starting point. From there the key activity is to analyse and report on the data. Membership organisations that embark on this data-driven marketing approach are well on their way to serving the interests of their members well.
Blog written by Chris Pennington, Consultant to PA. The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the writer. Content published here does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Professional Advantage Pty Ltd.
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