Your members have lives outside of your association and those lives shapes their expectations. You see that when they ask why your search doesn’t behave like Amazon’s or why your phone’s hold message doesn’t give approximate wait time.


These comparisons are exasperating but there are times when these mega-retail giants can help you shape your members’ experiences in a positive way.

Encourage Good Behavior

One of the things Amazon does well, and it’s easy for an association to mirror, is it rewards its customers for behaving the way it wants them to by incentivizing desired behavior. With the growing popularity of Prime and its free two-day shipping, Amazon knew it would quickly exhaust itself. Enter no rush shipping. This option rewarded people who chose to delay delivery with a $1 credit on movies, music, or e-books. Smart move on Amazon’s part because it meant a larger delivery window for them and the promotional credit would be used against (another) future purchase.

Ways to Use Incentives

There are several ways to reward desired member behavior. Follow the give and get method. If you give members something they want, you’ll get what you want.


If you want members to pay before their dues expire make it worth their while. You’ll save on printing, mailing, and/or the time of emailing future reminders plus you’ll have money in the bank. You can do this by offering something free (like a PDF) or a savings coupon/promo code on an event ticket or store item. Think about something that will drive action but have only a negligible effect on your revenue.

Conference Registration

Most associations encourage early sign-ups by offering early bird pricing. You can also make early registrants eligible for a meet-and-greet with the keynote speaker or give them first access to a popular session or free e-book.

Social Media

You can use incentives to drive social media interaction. Don’t ask for shares or likes anymore (Facebook doesn’t like it). Create a contest where members become eligible if they answer a question to something you posted. You can also increase engagement in your online community by offering an incentive to contribute, update their profile, or join. 

Many sales people talk about the art of the ask and while asking is important and generally effective, providing people a reason to do something is even more so.