Transforming business models: is your membership still relevant?

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Within this latest instalment of the Digital Transformation series, Gary Hargraves, CEO of Sport:80 looks at how technology can transform business models in the sport sector, specifically membership.

At Sport:80, I think we are in a privileged position, and one where we can share valuable insight. Every day we work closely with a variety of UK and US-based governing bodies, and through our work we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t.

I wanted to use this instalment of our digital transformation series to share some of what we’ve picked up along the way, particularly in relation to a fundamental part of the sport sector’s business model, membership.

Why membership, and why now? In the two decades I’ve worked in sport the membership model has changed little and, as technology continues to transform consumer habits, the risk the model is becoming outdated is very real.

The sport sector, like all industries, needs to innovate to remain relevant and the ability for governing bodies to revitalise membership models will be of significance. After all, nobody wants to be the next Blockbuster, regretfully looking on as Netflix adds another billion to its valuation.

So how can the sport sector revitalise membership? I’ve put together a few pointers that we have seen help governing bodies to improve their membership value proposition.

Placing emphasis on the individual

The most successful membership models are those that allow your organisation direct engagement with the individuals involved in your sport. The ability to keep existing members and gain new ones is a much easier task if you know exactly who they are and what makes them tick.

Modernise your approach to pricing

There is a variety of ways to make pricing more appealing, monthly subscription models being one. Delivered correctly, subscription models win points with your members and can also provide a welcome revenue boost.

Take note from other industries whose subscription models still tie people in to a 12-month period and charge a small premium for spreading the cost.

Make membership easy

We’ve seen a clear link between uptake and the simplicity of processes, so don’t overcomplicate membership registration. If you’re changing your processes don’t miss out on the opportunity to innovate. Online registration is here to stay, so if you haven’t already, put a block on paper forms.

Also look to take advantage of things like digital membership cards which provide added value back to members and can help with your own efficiency.

Use your data

Data is probably your most valuable asset, so if you’re collecting it, use it. Analysing member data and behaviour will help you build a detailed profile of your ‘ideal’ member and give you hard evidence to legitimise changes to your membership model.

It’s also likely to inspire ideas which will help your organisation monetise the ‘80/20’ principle and ways to bring new membership offers to market.

Shared services

By working in partnership with organisations that share similar goals, there is a significant opportunity for your governing body to improve its value proposition.

In the context of membership, this provides the potential to widen your reach, provide additional perks and value to members and overcome limitations that you may have experienced when working on your own.

While writing this I was conscious I have only begun to scrape the surface when it comes to the transformation of business models. But I hope it’s thought-provoking all the same, providing you some inspiration for your digital transformation journey.

That’s the intention of this series. Its purpose is to get people thinking because as the digital landscape continues to evolve it will do so with little consideration for those who are maybe not as quick to follow suit.

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