July 22, 2022
You want more members and adding new benefits is going to get them.
Well, maybe not. Before you go all-in on new perks, build out your marketing campaigns and announce them to your members, it may be time to ask – “does my association have a feature bloat problem?”
From software updates on our phones to design changes on our favorite apps, new features are a normal part of our lives. But many of those changes get used once or twice and then fall by the wayside, turning into what Shira Ovide calls “bloatware.”
In an article for the New York Times, she dove into exactly why tech companies add features knowing they often go unused. In speaking to Cliff Kuang, a designer in the tech industry, she found that feature updates often fall into a few categories, including features that allow companies to market a product in a new way or those that appeal to the needs of a wider audience.
However, many fall into a third category that can also impact the association industry – “the inability of users to distinguish between ‘Hey, that looks good’ and ‘Hey, I need that,’” said Kuang.
For associations, member benefits are the equivalent of features. So, when looking for ways to retain or grow membership, expanding them is often one of the go-to strategies. However, how do you avoid feature bloat and create an offering that satisfies the needs of your members?
If a proposed membership benefit doesn’t hit the mark, then new offerings may not be the answer to your membership concerns.
Of course, just because you aren’t adding something new doesn’t mean you can't create new value with your existing membership. The most successful tech updates are often the ones that improve the functionality of features users already like, and the same can go for associations.
So how do you update existing benefits to help members old and new?
As the old saying goes, more isn’t always better.
While many organizations may be tempted to add new membership benefits, these additions can often become “feature bloat,” providing little value to members and sometimes distracting them from the things your organization does well.
Before adding anything, association leaders should always ask themselves whether this is something that looks good or is actually needed. Whether you’re surveying your members or simply looking at the industry's challenges, using this as a gauge for whether something is necessary can help you avoid adding bloat to your membership.
Also, always make sure you leverage the offerings you already have. Whether adding new content or raising awareness for new members, you can easily add value without adding bloat.
Jose Triana joined the Sidecar team as the Content Manager in 2021. He is a writer and creative focused on helping purpose-driven organizations learn and find value online. When he isn't working on content, you can catch him going for a run or resting with a good book.