The Executives Club of Chicago Doubled Membership With A New Member Value Proposition

member value proposition
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Can A New Member Value Proposition Help Double Membership?
Here's How We Helped The Executive's Club of Chicago Do It.

The Executives’ Club of Chicago had to urgently revitalize its membership. One of America’s top business forums, their value proposition had changed very little in over 100 years, and their membership reflected that. Weak recruitment and retention had brought the Club close to crisis. 

A dynamic new CEO, Dr. Margaret Mueller, had rebranded the Club with the help of Energy BBDO, one of Chicago’s most famous ad agencies. She had to align the membership model with the new brand to make it work.

She put the entire membership model and value proposition on the table:


  • There was only one class of membership. Should corporate and individual memberships be different?
  • The dues structure was too complex. 
  • Is there a better dues structure?
  • They relied on a lot of free content. Should they make more of that content paid?
  • They had always focused on Chicago. How could they expand their reach?

How We Nail The Member Value Proposition

Most associations struggle with their member value proposition. In our experience,  most associations don’t ask the right questions about value. They focus too much on what members want instead of what they want, but can’t get anywhere else. The perfect value proposition addresses those needs in a way the no one else can.

 We created the Sequence “Way-to-Play” strategy process to solve that problem and help associations create a value proposition that marries their greatest strengths with members’ unmet needs. The result is a clear understanding of where they have a “Right to Win” that will anchor a great value proposition. (For another example of Way to Play in action, see: How SAE Multiplied Non-Dues Revenue 10X.)


We brought senior staff and Board members together to collaborate on a new understanding of the way they should play and how to bring their most unique assets to bear on what members needed most. The result was:




  • A powerful new positioning for the Club as an elite curator of uniquely valuable content and connections
  • A radically new membership model and an increased dues structure that delivered more value for Executives and Enterprises alike
  • An innovative, three-level value proposition that provided specifically targeted value for individuals, corporations, and sponsors
  • An exciting acquisition opportunity that would be synergistic with the new strategy

To bring the member value proposition to life, we developed a messaging and content strategy that would speak to different classes of members and immediately deliver the value they promised. (For more on content strategy, see  The 4 Important Questions to Up Your Content Game Now.) 

The new strategy:

  • Focused on stories of how valuable membership is to real-life executives
  • Called out the ROI for individuals and corporate decision-makers
  • Sold the new value proposition in terms of what’s in it for the member
  • Created powerful content and messaging for recruitment and renewal

Membership Doubled

The results have been transformational. When the new member value proposition launched for corporate members, many said that they had wanted to expand their relationship with the Club but did not know how they could. They were happy to pay more and more willing to sponsor. Individual members from far beyond Chicago enrolled. Current members were delighted, and it showed in satisfaction and retention.

The Club has enjoyed:

  • Doubling the membership in three years
  • Renewing 100% of corporate members and 90% of individual members in the first year 
  • Growing sponsorship by 30%
  • Nearly doubling their audience reach
  • Improving their Net Promoter Score (NPS) from -5 to +50 in two years

Click here to learn more about how we help associations like Exec Club create a winning member value proposition. 

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