Interview series: Richard Gott, Founder, Memberwise

Author - Jeremy Burnel

Posted By Jeremy Burnel

Date posted 26th Jul 2019

Category Blog


We’ve wanted to host an interview series on the 93digital website for a while, as it offers us an opportunity to talk to Interesting individuals within the business sectors that we also have a commitment to helping.  One of the first people we wanted to chat with, was Richard Gott.

Richard to me, Is the ‘King of Membership’, as he is the founder of MemberWise, the Independent network for other Membership organisations. 93digital enjoy working on Membership websites, due to the various layers of functionality any one membership organisation can have, and the sheer number of different marketing challenges we can help solve thanks to the power and flexibility of one CMS, WordPress.

Hi Richard. What is MemberWise, and why does it exist?

The MemberWise Network is a free professional network that represents over 5,000 professionals working within over 2,500 Membership Organisations and Associations in the UK, EU and across the World.

 We provide practical help and support to help Membership and Association Professionals (at all levels and career stages) to improve existing member retention, increase new member acquisition, enhance value and optimise member engagement/participation in order to ensure sustainable long-term growth.

Tell us about your role at MemberWise Network and your main responsibilities?

I founded the MemberWise Network 11 years ago as a frustrated professional body manager. I was looking for good quality networking opportunities, solid best-practice information/advice and good supplier recommendations.

I wanted to meet people like me and better understand what ‘good’ looked like. Essentially, ‘give the tyres a good kick’ from a membership perspective. I found out quickly that I couldn’t do this alone, not easily, in any case. So I created a network that was run by practitioners and it has grown by 20% each year ever since.

I used to work full-time at a senior leadership level within a number of high profile membership bodies (including the RCGP and The Law Society), however the network now requires dedicated resource, so I focus on this full-time with the support of five colleagues who also have a real drive, dedication and background in membership. We’re quite unique! #membershipgeeks

What are MemberWise’s main Outreach activities over a given year?

Our outreach activity is conducted via two key delivery channels:

Face-to-Face: We facilitate a comprehensive programme of free best practice seminars, two large national conferences/exhibitions and expert advisory/consultancy services.

Online: We host the sector’s most comprehensive best practice website, the only dedicated online professional community for membership/association professionals (MemberWise Connect), video channel, blog, jobs board (MemberWise Jobs) and a monthly network newsletter that updates members on the latest network developments.

We also regularly publish online best practice guidance on key topics including member engagement, member value and research reports that feature statistically significant results that enable solid benchmarking/insight opportunities.

Together these channels combine to deliver the most comprehensive package of practical help and support available to membership and association professionals in the UK.

We have compiled a Member Benefits page here that segments the different types of organisations your readers are likely to represent

How is all this provided free of charge?

We work in partnership with over 160 suppliers (including 93digital) to deliver the MemberWise Recognised Supplier programme. Our large conferences and exhibitions also provide a unique opportunity for suppliers to increase product/brand awareness and meet new client organisations. All opportunities are provided in a clear/transparent way and we leverage the power of our independent network.

What are other ways in which you engage with professionals working within membership bodies?

We have grown a strong online social following/presence which helps us to amplify awareness of our activity; however, our reach increases exponentially via member-to-member recommendations. This year (due to an increased resource) we will market the network and its services to key segments within the membership community.

What’s Digital Excellence 2019 and what’s on the programme?

Digital Excellence 2019 will be the largest digital transformation focused conference for senior membership and association professionals ever to be held in the UK. It will take place at the Novotel London West on 31st October 2019 and will attract up to 500+ delegates.

This year’s theme is ‘Digital Transformation – Inspiring a Connected Approach’ and is one of our key goals/challenges. It is brought to life via focused session tracks (covering online content fundamentals, online member engagement/participation, personalisation & big data, digital strategy/governance, online member learning and digital futures) and speakers will represent membership bodies that are delivering great online/digital achievements.

Speakers will represent professional bodies including the ACCA and Royal College of Physicians; Consumer Bodies including the Camping and Caravanning Club and The National Trust; Business Associations including the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce and the London Institute of Banking and Finance; and other leading membership organisations and associations.

Is the conference just for ‘Techies’?

Definitely not! Digital Excellence 2019 will attract four times as many professionals conducting technical digital-focused roles (linked to digital) compared to our other conferences, however, most delegates conduct non-techy member-facing roles (E.g. Managers, Heads and Directors of Membership).
Content is 100% educational and pitched at a non-technical level. The key focus is to identify new ways to better retain members, acquire new members, provide enhanced online value and optimised online member engagement. Technical content does sit behind these fundamentals, so we recommend organisations send a mixture of technical/non-technical staff to optimise potential insight/gain.

Why should Membership Organisations attend?

We attract professionals from membership organisations and associations that are looking to enhance their respective online member value propositions and improve back-office automation/effectiveness. Over 97% of delegates will return to the office and change/develop at least one digital/online activity. Due to the increased level of sponsorship this year we are also able to offer booking discounts of between 20 and 40% and group/delegation booking offers (including our popular 3 for 2 promotion).

Readers can explore the programme, establish educational learning outcomes, meet our expert speakers and book their place(s) via the Official Digital Excellence 2019 website.

Thank you, Richard! You can also find out more/join the MemberWise Network here.

Let's Talk

Do you have an exciting strategic project coming up that you would like to talk about?