Should you continue to use a one-time recruitment or renewal campaign, one that may have been successful but seems to not be working like it once had? Do you have any real plan in place if that lone effort were to fail? The sad news is that at some point, it will fail. Should you continue to stick to the same recruitment or renewal program year after year and lament when overall renewals are down? What you need is a dedicated system that allows for many different sources of renewal, joining, and participation that leads to new memberships and renewals. Would you be interested in a system that automates many of these steps as well?
To be fully successful as an Executive Director or Membership Administrator, you can't rely solely on the “same ‘ole” system to recruit new members or renew current memberships, especially in today’s membership market. You must have a plan, and the plan needs to include automation systems that can reduce administration time, increase renewals, add new memberships, and increase participation in the organization all while controlling the costs associated with these types of campaigns.
To start with, you need to know how many new prospects you must recruit each year to a paid membership and how many current members need to renew to show year-over-year real growth—if that is your goal. There just are not that many organizations out there that are not looking for growth of some sort; membership is the most wanted growth element, in the overall membership realm of organizations (associations, societies, etc.). The second most wanted growth is in event participation (more on that later). Almost every organization wants to do more for its members and that takes money.
You also need to calculate how much you can afford to spend to get a new member or renew an existing one and what they are worth to you once you have them—not only from a dues standpoint but also any add-on or participation purchases they might make given the right incentives to do so. Event participation, training, continuing education, certification or recertification participation, networking participation, volunteering participation, sponsorship participation, advertising participation, mentoring participation, donor participation, and Committee or Board participation, all hold value to the organization. This is their lifetime value as a member.
In addition, you need to constantly test—new media, messaging, pricing, incentives, timing, referral systems, networking opportunities, and event participation opportunities —every time you can do so. Many tests will not work, but some will. Those are the ones that will move your overall program forward.
If your organization can only budget say $10 or less (marketing spend per membership) to renew a $150 dues-paying member then you need a dedicated system. When we ask an organization how they decided on a particular budget amount for marketing their membership many had no idea how or why they came up with a particular line item $figure for their membership marketing budget (other than “that’s what we always have budgeted” if anything was budgeted at all). You need to plan the campaign based on the size of the current membership, the costs of communication (email blasts, mailing dues/renewals, new member advertising costs, time of administration personnel to do the work, etc.), and the past and projected results.
Any true automation or system opportunities you can use will increase the participation, results, and analytics, all while lowering communication and administration costs.
As membership marketers, we know our science is fluid and sometimes volatile. While there are fundamental rules that should be followed to be successful, membership marketing is as much an art as a science. What worked last year might not work this year or next year. Planning and use of automation systems will give positive results and will give the analytics to prove it works.
We can help; all you have to do is ask.