When it comes to trade association or professional organization member recruitment, is it ever a good idea to frustrate your members? In fact, when running any type of business, is it ever a good idea to cause strife for them? The common sense answer is "no", but what you might be missing out on is the answer "yes".
Why Frustrating Members Might Work
Well, frustrating on purpose might not be the optimal strategy. The key is to make your association's content so invaluable that lack of access would frustrate. The idea is that preventing members from accessing content due to unpaid bills would frustrate and force the member into action.
Now, going about this task must be done with the highest amount of tact. Failing to do so in such a manner may lead to a member canceling his or her membership entirely, but even worse, he or she may spread negative reviews online. In today's digital economy, this could spell the end of your trade association or organization.
Utilizing Negative Reinforcement in a Positive Manner
The goal here is to entice members to pay their dues. While you might use letters, reminder emails, or even phone calls in order to achieve this goal, cutting off access to trusted, valuable information might do the trick much faster.
Basically, when a member gets used to receiving valuable information from your association or organization that assists him or her in achieving goals in professional life, a cutoff due to non-payment can become very detrimental. Therefore, this might be the tool you need in order to generate renewals and additional revenue.
What Problems Can This Approach Cause?
While using a "lock-out" approach to non-paying members can be beneficial in the long-run, it can cause problems in the short-term. Members who simply forgot to pay their dues may feel slighted or offended by being immediately cutoff and issued a non-payment notice.
This might lead them to completely remove themselves from being a member in the end. Likewise, members who have been around for a while and who have fallen on hard times may resent your organization's or association's request, meaning once they regain financial stability, they will refuse to rejoin.
Handling Payment Issues in a Tactful Manner
The key to depriving members in default of content is to handle things tactfully. You'll want to provide support for current members, opportunities for payment for default members, and a lack of bad press for potential members. It's a very fine line to walk, and this goes for any type of business in which you want and need to hold onto customers, but you can't float non-paying customers.
In the end, try to find a route that allows your association or organization to provide some content to all visitors while reserving premium content for paying customers. This method not only attracts new members and keeps current paying members happy, but it also gives an incentive to defaulted members to re-up their dues in order to once again receive premium content.
Andrew Rusnak is an author who writes on topics that include business development and social media.