Ideas from the team


3 Ways to Think Outside the Box with Memberships

We wrote a beginner’s guide to setting up membership schemes, which explains how to pick the right benefits, tailor them to your target patrons, promote them and maintain your members. If you’ve nailed those tips and are ready to try something a bit different with your membership program, this blog post is for you.

There’s always scope to be savvy with your memberships, to make sure they’re keeping you one step ahead of the expectations of your loyal patrons. So once you’ve decided on your arts marketing objectives, and which benefits you want to offer, why not try something a little more creative?

Here are some ideas.

1. Seasonal or starter memberships

Memberships don’t have to last the standard one-year time period. You could try memberships lasting a month, or even just a few days at a time.

For example, if you have regular movie screenings you could offer a 30-day pass, or if you have a smaller studio space a three-month membership might just be the thing that entices patrons into your wider program of work.

Who it’s for

This could be the perfect introduction for someone not quite up for taking the plunge on a yearly membership, but who would also like to try out what you have to offer.

Segment your patrons to those who have attended semi-regularly over the last few years, and have been highly engaged with your email marketing campaigns. Ideally, you want leverage a CRM segmentation tool and flag these patrons to your box office staff, using customer groups in Spektrix, so that you can upsell this ‘beginner membership to anyone who’s buying for multiple events or taking advantage of multiple offers.

Benefits to offer

Make sure that the benefits are better than just showing up, but not as good as a those for the annual membership. Here are a few options:

  • Ticket discounts are a big draw. In Spektrix you can set up offers where you use the segmentation you’ve already done to provide the patron eligibility.
  • Members-only events are great. You could even sell these online by locking all the seats off and setting online lock eligibility, which saves resources at the box office.

As they come to the end of their membership, remind them of the benefits of going for your higher-tier or longer memberships. Schedule your customer lists to look for patrons with memberships expiring ‘next month’, and send them email campaigns encouraging them to sign up.

Setting it up

With Spektrix, you can set date ranges which allow you to set up whatever membership periods you like, as opposed to the standard month or year. You can also set up a membership to finish on a specific date for all members, irrespective of when they joined. This is perfect for seasonal venues and festival


Related Readings: CRM Segmentation for Arts Marketers: Setting Up Your Database


2. Life memberships

As the name suggests, this is a membership package that’s open ended. The patron gets benefits that will last forever and you get a lifelong returning patron.

Large historical trusts and organizations have long been using this sort of set-up, but even smaller organizations can come up with a membership pitched at a price that won’t seem wallet-smashing to the patron, yet will still financially benefit your organization.

Who it’s for

Patrons most likely to buy this sort of membership are those that are either regularly attending over a long period of time, or are renewing their existing membership. They’re super loyal to you already, but to keep them sweet you could offer them a package which makes them feel extra involved and valued.


Related Reading: How to Create Arts Marketing Campaigns That Drive Up Retention


Benefits to offer

You’ve got to find the balance between offering benefits your patrons will appreciate and benefits that will bring in ongoing and steady revenue. Try benefits that cost you less but bring high value to your members, that will encourage secondary spending or that engages them with the organization such as:

  • Priority on-sales
  • Pre-season launch coffee with the CEO
  • Post-show drinks with the cast and director
  • Discounts at the bar
  • Members-only backstage tours

This is also an excellent example of something that would make a brilliant gift, which leads us nicely to...

3. Gift memberships

Birthday present? Graduation? Holidays? People are always looking for the perfect present for arts lovers, and this is a great way to get your patrons selling for you.

Who it’s for

Regular members are already enjoying the benefits of your membership program, so they're the most likely to want to pass it on to their friends and family.

Use tags to identify and track your current and past members, then talk to them about gift memberships when they come into the box office, or get in touch via email. A targeted email campaign in early December is another great idea.

Benefits to offer

Any membership you’ve already set up, can be set up to be bought as a gift for someone else in Spektrix, so if you think it’s something that your patrons might want to buy for their friends and family, make it so.

Setting it up

When you’re setting up a membership in Spektrix you just need to mark them as ‘giftable’ - simple as that. Your box office staff can then sell them just as they would gift certificates, and if you have a Memberships page online your patrons can buy them in the same way they would for themselves.

How to make sure your memberships are effective

Whatever membership idea you come up with, just make sure you do your due diligence by checking that it delivers against the three following metrics. If it doesn’t, it probably isn’t right:

  1. The membership is easy for potential members to understand.
  2. It delivers value for your organization, financially and in terms of audience development.
  3. It doesn’t place an administrative burden on the team.

Arts patrons grow and change, but with some creative spark and a few helpful tools in Spektrix, there are endless ways of keeping them where you want them - in your venue!


Discover how theatres are increasing donations from individual contributions by downloading Chapter 2 of the 2019 Insights Report.

Have you got any unusual or clever ideas for membership schemes? Let us know below.