MGI Tipster Volume 9, Issue 4

April 29, 2010   |   Vol. 9   |   Issue 4

MGI Presents Great Ideas at ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference

Last month, MGI was pleased to give presentations at two sessions of the ASAE Great Ideas Conference held at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. "My Membership is Still Decreasing: Now What?" was the title of one of the sessions and we thought we would share insights from that presentation with our Tipster readers.

MGI Vice President Erik Schonher and Account Supervisor Jason Gudenius led the session to explore what they termed a "systems approach" to membership development. They demonstrated how this approach can help membership organizations properly diagnose problems in their membership development strategies and move to correct them.

Schonher and Gudenius used the MGI Membership Lifecycle™ as the marketing model to illustrate the steps organizations should take to benchmark their existing membership programs and to ensure that their membership is growing.

The MGI Membership Lifecycle

The Membership Lifecycle helps organizations appreciate how an integrated membership marketing methodology can increase success in finding and keeping members. It segments the membership experience into five consecutive steps.

Awareness … when prospects first discover you.
Awareness is developed through targeted messaging and multichannel brand recognition strategies. Go-to-market research and tactical analysis frame awareness campaigns that build recognition and generate new relationships through information exchange and lead generation.

To build awareness, membership organizations frequently implement lead generation and database development strategies. Currently, the most effective tactics utilize online tools and offers that have individuals "self identify" themselves as qualified prospects. These include free white paper downloads, ad networks, and paid search engine ads.

Recruitment … when prospects choose to try you.
The next step is "Recruitment," where the prospective member makes the decision to join or deepen his or her investment in the association.

Recruitment utilizes many marketing disciplines that are consistently tested to discover the best performing strategies. This step merges market segmentation, creative development, and value-driven offers to maximize returns in the most cost-effective ways.

It is vital that during the Awareness phase, associations clearly describe the value of membership to minimize the time between the Awareness and Recruitment phases. It is also critical that they set appropriate expectations on the value of membership to the prospect so the member will be compelled to renew.

Engagement … when new members feel they belong with you.
Engagement is the lifecycle step where the membership organization looks to build loyalty with its members and affirm the value of membership.

We presented a sample Engagement Strategy including specific tactics we have found successful, such as surveys, targeted emails by "member interest to benefit," telemarketing, and e-letters. We stressed the importance of a well-defined tactical plan with disciplined implementation where tactics are executed in a timely fashion and results are quickly analyzed. We also noted that an Engagement Program for first-year members will be different than one for second or multiple-year members since first-year members typically need more guidance to realize the benefits of membership.

Engagement is key to high retention rates and sustained membership growth. Successful engagement programs convert new members into active users of benefits and encourage involvement while building member loyalty. Engagement programs are a crucial lead-in to Renewal.

Renewals … when lapsing members decide whether to keep you.
Renewals are the efforts made to collect membership dues to continue the relationship. It is important to reinforce the value of membership and to do it frequently. We suggested that organizations deploy as many renewal efforts as is economically feasible.

Too many organizations send only three or four renewals. If they ran the numbers, they would likely find that the cost to renew members—even sending out 10 or 12 efforts—is less than the cost of acquiring new ones.

Renewal is a confirmation of the value members feel they have received from their organization. It is a vote of confidence … or no confidence. Renewals are a critically necessary foundation for organizational growth that demand close attention to process and member communications.

Reinstatement … when former members agree to return to you.
Reinstatement programs offer opportunities for lapsed members to reconsider the decision to join when presented with fresh messaging and perhaps new offers. Reinstatements are a regular component of membership growth programs every organization should have in place to bring the Membership Lifecycle full circle.

The MGI Membership Lifecycle is a framework to design and implement customized solutions that maximize recruitment, engagement, and retention in order to optimize membership growth.

If you’d like to receive a copy of the presentation or learn more about the Membership Lifecycle, please contact Erik Schonher at 703.706.0358.

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