Using a Paid Membership Model to Drive Program Loyalty

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When it comes to deepening the member experience, opportunities for enrichment become so much more robust when a paid membership tier comes into play. For one of our clients, this tier comes in the form of VMUG Advantage.

Developing a paid membership program

VMUG Advantage invites members into an experience that extends beyond a one-time purchase. Advantage members have access to an exclusive community of VMware users who share their professional struggles, successes, and, in a newly launched initiative, are now nominating their peers to win a free year of membership. This exclusive experience is a newfound benefit that has proven to increase the value proposition of the program.

The products and discounts offered in the Advantage membership sell themselves; this used to be the leading factor in the marketing strategy, a one-way communication effort that was focused on selling and bringing in revenue rather than engaging with members and listening to their feedback. The program saw a steady year-over-year increase in revenue with the mindset that if people know what the program offers, they are sure to buy it. However, in the past six months, the Advantage program has shifted to a strategic model that brings the member experience to the forefront – and we have seen month after month of record-breaking sales. 

Shifting focus

So what caused this change? We shifted our focus. Sure, the benefits of the membership sell themselves but how do we create a marketing strategy that sells products and an experience?  A constant challenge of the program has been brand awareness: people simply don’t know what Advantage is or why they should buy it.

In the past month, Advantage has rolled out a video series that guides members along their educational journey to take the value of their membership one step further. We’ve also tapped into industry experts to provide live demos and Q&A panels, exclusive discounts and insight, and a deeper dive into making the most of the Advantage membership. To tell a story of why upgrading a VMUG membership to Advantage is beneficial, we’ve developed customer testimonials in addition to the video series that provide a first-hand account of Advantage use cases. This takes explaining what the membership includes one step further to illustrate how it can be practically applied.

Driving results

Instead of simply encouraging someone to renew their membership, we tell them why other members renewed their accounts and how they are using their membership to advance their careers. Internally, we’ve shifted our focus and we have seen dividends. Advantage online forums are more active, social media platforms are buzzing, and we have seen an increased acknowledgement and applause from the program’s stakeholders.

VMUG thrives on community. In hindsight, it only makes sense that the Advantage program has seen record-breaking months of sales once community was the forefront of the membership strategy.


At Innovatis Group, we use this first-hand insight and innovative thinking to challenge stalled growth and drive results for our clients. Contact us today to learn how we can leverage a paid membership model to reinforce member engagement.

Molly Smith

Molly Smith

Molly is a Membership Senior Associate at Innovatis Group. Her goal is to help build a more thought-out strategy for our clients' programs that will allow for members to excel in their career, while also bringing in increased YoY revenue for the client. (Fun fact: Molly has a great sense of direction. If you’re ever lost, you know who to call!)