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Membership Acquisition and Retention Strategies for 2017

Growing and managing your membership in today's environment has many challenges. However, if it is conducted in a planned, systematic, focussed and strategic manner - you simply cannot fail.

Member Acquisition

First we will look at recruiting new members and a few ideas that will increase your membership, even in tough times ahead.

The key to recruiting new members is to build a high level of qualified prospects. In gaining prospects, there are two key aspects:

  1. Capture information - every non-member who phones or emails your organisation can be easily identified through 1-2 good questions and with their permission, sent a membership pack. Also any non-members who attend your events, who book on your professional development programs or purchase products or services you offer can be identified, basic details captured and sent a membership pack (post or electronic). Every interaction with a prospective member should result in information being supplied to you, voluntarily, so you can send them membership details and place them in your contact management systems 'prospect sales funnel'.
  2. Follow through. In corporate terms, this is referred to as 'mining the sales funnel' and, depending on the type of organisation you are, involves a series of strategic actions designed to influence and persuade prospects to become your members. You can utilise mail, email, the telephone, social media, newsletters and events, to name a few, as part of your follow through campaigns. Each area of the follow through (or 'keeping in touch') involves contact points that are a part of a systematic, planned, focussed and strategic campaign to gain new members.

These are probably the two most important strategies to apply in member recruitment.

Other strategies to incorporate, and seriously look at how these are working for you at every membership committee meeting, include setting membership growth objectives (based on known data such as your total number of prospects, market segments and available demographics), marketing, promotion and publicity campaigns (publicity should be gained at every single opportunity from your president, CEO, board members and stakeholders). You require a high quality contact management system, your staff need to be competent in dealing with non-members in areas of service and their ability to sell the benefits and value of joining your organisation.

Member Retention

This function is absolutely vital - it costs a lot of money to acquire new members, yet marketing and promotion funding should also be spent on member retention campaigns and programs. Below is a list of member retention ideas and initiatives:

  1. Develop and execute a 12-month new member 'keep in touch' program - assign new members a mentor, invite them to events, chart their progress on your contact management system and ensure they are utilising their membership benefits … or you will probably lose them.
  2. Look at how you engage with your members. So many choices! However, it needs a systematic approach via your website (how about 'members only' - what does it contain? A newsletter archive and the last four AGMs or real value and benefits for members?), your correspondence, forums and webinars a coordinated social media approach, newsletters and telephone contacts. Encourage member participation and feedback.
  3. Your events schedule - do you give your members the best value when they attend events? Your speakers and activities offered - are they first class?
  4. Member service excellence should be second to none. Everyone in your organisation who deals with members should be trained in all aspects of service, communication, complaints management and how to work as a team (incidentally, those staff who do not deal with members support those who do - internal service and teamwork are very important as well).
  5. Conduct member surveys, listen to what your members say and thank those who respond. Good surveys will give you a snapshot of where you stand in the eyes of your members. Remember, you are not a great organisation because you say you are - but because your members say you are!
  6. Use your contact management system as a member relationship management (MRM) tool. Share information, keep everything up-to-date and chart your member activities and how much they spend within the organisation.
  7. Plan your renewals strategies and start your renewals program early! Whether a 'date of joining' or a calendar date, do not leave this important process until the last minute. Tell your members what you did for them this year and what you will be doing for them next year - make it a 'no brainer' for them to want to renew.

Combining the above strategies into a seamless, 12 month plan, will ensure that you acquire more members and successfully retain those you have got in order to build a more sustainable organisation and one that is recession-proof even in unstable times.

Contact Kevin Cahalane today for a frank discussion on your membership growth needs:
kevin@membershipgrowth.com.au or 03 5976 8966 (Australia)