Associations have more in common with for-profit businesses than you think. Thinking outside the nonprofit box can help you glean new insights that you can translate for your organization.
Take Netflix as an example. It’s had its ups and downs and made mistakes along the way. But it’s a company that’s not afraid to change direction when things aren’t going as planned – and it’s known for its innovative work culture.
Here are 3 lessons that Netflix has learned that are transferable to the association world.
1. Stick with Your Mission.
There was a point in Netflix history when the company built its own black box for streaming movies, but after investing a lot of time and money, they ended up deciding to ditch the box.
Why the sudden change in direction? It didn’t align with their mission of “having Netflix on every device on the planet that is connected to the internet.” So instead of competing with existing hardware providers, they convinced those providers to include Netflix on their devices.
The takeaway for Associations: If it feels like your products and services aren’t aligning with your true mission, take a step back and ask yourself, “Are our current products really what our members want?” If the answer is no, don’t be afraid to change directions. It might mean some wasted resources in the short term, but it will pay off in the long run.
2. Give Membership Options – and Make “Free” Part of Your Membership Strategy.
When you join Netflix, you get your first month free and the choice of Premium, Standard, or Basic memberships – and they allow you to change levels at any time. This is a pretty standard model for a lot of online membership-based companies.
Why does it work for Associations? Offering membership levels – including a free membership option – means that you can cast a wide net and capture nearly everyone in your target industry. It removes the cost barrier and allows people to choose the level that will give them the most value.
With technology, it’s easier and more affordable than ever to offer a free membership that grants access to online forums and content. And once you have members through the door, it’s much easier to sell them on paid memberships.
Association management software products have also made it quick and easy to manage multiple membership levels – another reason to introduce some variety into your membership model.
3. Invest in Your Leaders – they Define Your Culture.
It’s no secret that your leaders are your most valuable resources. But don’t look at them only as resources – look at them as the people who create the culture that attracts and retains the kind of employees and members you want.
Netflix has become known for its unconventional HR policies, and one of the keys to their success is giving their leaders ownership of creating the company culture. Netflix leaders know the company’s values. They are trusted to model and hire employees who align with those values, and Netflix gives them all the tools they need to build a great pool of talent.
For the most part, great leaders aren’t born that way. They’re coached, supported, and empowered – and they understand and fully embrace the organization’s mission and values. Earmark resources for leadership initiatives. Help your managers grow and empower them to build the culture of your organization.