MGI Tipster – Volume 11, Issue 1

January 12, 2012   |   Vol. 11   |   Issue 1
MGI is growing again! We will be moving to a new location on January 27, 2012.

Our new address will be:

625 North Washington Street, Suite 450
Alexandria, VA 22314

Our old offices close January 27 and our new offices open January 31, 2012.

Six Considerations for Membership Recruitment

Putting together a membership marketing plan is the first step to successfully recruiting new members. And understanding the appropriate elements to include in the plan and the investment associated with them are fundamental to developing a successful plan.

This edition of the MGI Tipster reviews six critical elements to include in your master member recruitment plan for 2012 and beyond.

Element #1: Economics

The plan starts with an analysis of the scope of the member acquisition program and how much can be spent on acquiring new members. How much is a member worth? This is a calculation made from several sources.

First, figure the income from membership dues and non-dues revenue and multiply it by the number of years the average member stays with the organization. That calculation is based on the inverse of the renewal rate. An 80% renewal rate is equal to 100% divided by 20% or 5 years. Then subtract the annual incremental cost of servicing the member to derive the net income from each constituent over their lifetimes.

With that in hand, the number of new recruits expected to be brought aboard multiplied by their net income results in the anticipated revenue stream that a new member will generate. That tells marketers a lot about what a member is worth and how much the association can afford to spend on the recruitment campaign.

Element #2: Target Market

Next, it is important to decide just whom you want to reach as a prospective member. This includes where potential members can be found and what lists of prospects are available in your targeted market. Examining the target market for its size, composition, and competitors enables the membership marketer to gauge how available and how easy or difficult attracting each new member will be.

A SWOT review (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) will also help to understand the recruitment potential. It pays to be realistic in determining the target market because the reality of the market potential will play out in real life month by month.

Element #3: Membership Offer

The offer is the second most important element in the success of membership recruitment (the first is the list). What will a member receive? The membership benefits bundle is the starting point because it defines the value that membership will provide to the prospective member.

Special incentives to sweeten the membership offer are also effective in encouraging the member to join now. Effective membership recruitment incentives might include free months of membership, dues discounts, premiums such as coffee mugs, or special drawings.

Element #4: Marketing Message

The message conveys the offer and convinces prospects of the reasons for joining. The message should be built around the value proposition and employ the USP or Unique Selling Proposition. The USP is the benefit that sets your membership organization apart from all others.

The message should be thorough, succinct, and persuasive to describe why a prospect should join. Successful messaging is a combination of words, layout and design, and brand building that work together to create a compelling argument that answers the prospect’s basic question about investing in a membership—What’s in it for me?

Element #5: Promotional Tactics

Once the organization has learned where to find qualified prospects and what to offer them, the decision must be made about how to recruit them. Tactics are the day-to-day decisions that best carry out the overall plan comprising the six elements. Tactics describe how a member will be reached, and there are a number of choices and combinations of choices that come from basic marketing principles and experience over time.

This includes selecting the optimum marketing channel or channels to best convey the message to the audience, such as direct mail, telemarketing, email, web promotions, and even one-on-one personal sales, or all of them if appropriate.

Element #6: Testing and Tracking

Membership marketers should never stop testing their overall marketing plan by examining the results of each recruitment effort and comparing them with what has gone before. Test messages against one another. Test offers. Test channels. Test lists. But be sure to test just one item at a time or run the risk of having no idea which tested element caused the new results.

Testing requires patience, a willingness to risk some of the marketing budget to discover the optimum elements, and a rigid methodology that makes certain that the tests are meaningful, measurable, and accurate.

Final Words

Marketing plans that are kept simple are more likely to be implemented. So, once the organization’s membership marketers have considered the six elements outlined above, it makes good sense to act on only the areas that are relevant to an organization’s situation.

Finally, membership organizations should not fall into the trap of spending more time planning than actually doing. That is unproductive in and of itself. Just as important is to consider the marketing plan a living document that can be altered to adjust for the unexpected and what actually happens as the plan is carried out in the marketplace.

Want to Learn More?

If you need help developing your membership recruitment plans to enroll more members, please feel free to contact Tony Rossell, MGI’s Senior Vice President, at 703.706.0360 or by email at

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