What does web3 have to do with museum membership? Actually, everything.
Across the cultural not-for-profit ecosystem, membership is a painful subject. While membership has the limitless potential to nurture (and benefit from) deep engagement with an institution’s patrons, its conventional role has been to solicit patrons for annual contributions — in exchange for often lackluster benefits tied to the size of the financial transaction. Not a very compelling model, is it?
BUT…if you peer outside this framework, into the world of inventive loyalty programs for consumer packaged goods and luxury brands, you can begin to imagine a different scenario. And if you stretch just beyond, you can begin to imagine how loyalty programs anchored in web3 provide an inspired roadmap for what we might create for our beloved cultural institutions and the people who care deeply for them.
Learning from the deployment of loyalty programs in the CPG space using web3 tools
In the world of consumer packaged goods’ marketing, loyalty programs are integral to long-term success as they aim to connect customers more closely to the brands they love and respect. Today, we see a new generation of brands diving into web3 with loyalty programs that cultivate loyalty by delivering novel incentives with zeal and invention. These ambitious programs — being activated by myriad companies from Starbucks to Warby Parker and Volvo — turn consumers into fans with a new class of incentives and experiences that encourage them to behave like owners, not consumers.
The next wave in loyalty is possible because the new capabilities that Web3 delivers are centered around ownership, interoperability and the portability of value. While the definition of Web3 often varies depending on who you talk to, it’s clear that a digital world with crypto/blockchain functionality at its core has the potential to radically change consumer experience, loyalty program rules and community building, in part by introducing initiatives that reward fans as they collect NFTs that can then be used for trading, creating their own content (such as avatars), or having real-life experiences that might otherwise be out of reach.
In the cultural space, where individuals are already passionate about the institutions they support, there is the incredible potential to give these members ever-new reasons to believe and connect to the institution, and to each other, and imbue that connectivity with value.
What is the strategic value in taking this new path? A web3 membership program will:
- Provide vital funds for operations, research, artist support, exhibitions/programming and acquisitions through tokenizing new membership segments/levels and NFT projects
- Enable an institution to grow its membership base globally by harnessing the passions of those in their ecosystem
- Harness the power of NFT ownership to cultivate, incentivize and reward engagement
- Cultivate a new generation of supporters by tapping into the priorities, values and passions of those who are web3 natives — particularly current and future students
- Seamlessly push the boundaries of artistic practice and technology to support and execute leading-edge digital/NFT projects
Envisioning a Museum Program in Web3
The goal of a museum membership program that takes advantage of the functionality inherent in web3 tools is to unlock new levels of insider access to garner long-term support and value by activating three types of benefits:
Experiential utility. Exclusive access to a broad range of unique events and exceptional moments adds a new dimension to the NFT ownership experience as a member, leveraging an innate desire for access, status and prestige.
Community-building utility. Activities that connect members with each other lie at the center of NFT benefits. And while this category requires significant planning, it presents the greatest opportunity for meaningful impact, loyalty and lifetime value.
Transactional utility. In this arena, think discounts and free merch as a starting point to add value quickly. These benefits incentivize immediate activity with the potential to onboard members who have a newfound reason to spread the word on behalf of the institution . Over time, the potential for some NFTs to increase in value provides viable opportunities for financial gain for the institution through secondary sales.
And so it goes.
Let’s be clear. Building a museum membership program in web3 is not for the faint of heart. It requires vision, a pioneering (and entrepreneurial) spirit, creativity, discipline (with a strong dose of flexibility) and unflagging belief in the power of community. But consider the upside. With a new platform for education, experimentation and expansion, there are boundless future-facing opportunities to create and sustain programs that fuel an institution’s mission while providing new streams of sustainable income to support it.