September 26, 2019   |   Vol. 18   |   Issue 7
By Rob Bergeron, CAE, MGI Relationship Director

Just Like Football, Sustained Growth Is All About "Blocking and Tackling"

I love sports analogies. Anyone who has worked with me has heard me say about associations that you have to go for the big play to the end zone, but you can’t do it on the first play or on every play.

While it’s often the big plays scoring the points and leading the highlights, it’s the fundamentals–we’re talking blocking and tackling here–that can make or break your season. Our 2019 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report (MMBR) is free to download and is filled with examples of membership marketing success for associations performing solid blocking and tackling functions.

So with football season now up and running, let’s take a quick look through your membership marketing playbook by using the MGI Membership Lifecycle–Awareness, Recruitment, Engagement, Retention & Reinstatement–which is effective for designing profitable strategies that maximize revenue for sustained growth.

AWARENESS: when prospects first discover you

According to the MMBR, paid social media is increasing as a preferred marketing channel (with Facebook described as the most effective). Do you need a quick and easy new tactic for your existing lead generation efforts? Consider adding a Facebook “Lookalike” Audience to your playbook. This is when an algorithm identifies individuals likely to be interested in you because they are similar to your existing members, and shows them your ads.

RECRUITMENT: when prospects choose to try you

Do you know what remarketing (aka retargeting) is… and does your website utilize it? You’ve seen this technique when you visit a retail site and click through products and then later receive reminder ads related to your visit. This is a basic but effective tactic to consider for promotion of your membership, events, and certification. If someone’s just visited your website, you should capitalize on being top of mind.

ENGAGEMENT: when new and current members feel they belong with you

According to the MMBR, 83% of associations that have seen a renewal increase also have a tactical plan to increase engagement. Step one in creating an effective engagement plan is ensuring you know what members value. Do you know what it is about your organization members find indispensable and what benefits are truly being utilized based on metrics and member feedback, not assumption? If not, research just became your MVP.

An Indispensability Study provides empirical data to reveal which benefits and features would make you absolutely critical to your members (and if your delivery matches their expectations). Prefer a more open-ended and candid dialogue? A Bulletin Board Focus Group allows you the benefits of a focus group with the convenience and reach of an online study.

RENEWAL: when lapsing members decide whether to keep you

While recruitment plays the critical role of being your association’s offense, renewal is just as important for the defense it provides to your sustained growth. Do not treat your renewal program as an afterthought. Maintaining a robust renewal program is a crucial element to keeping your association healthy. Is your team starting your renewal series early enough? Are you using multiple channels to remind members to renew? How many touch points are in your series? Our recently-released MGI Membership Renewal Guide is free to download and filled with renewal best practices and many other proven strategies.

REINSTATEMENT: when former members agree to return to you

According to the MMBR, associations with a higher renewal rate (80% & up) are significantly more likely to continue contacting lapsed members indefinitely.

The MGI Membership Renewal Guide encourages you to be willing to spend at least the amount to get a member to renew as you would to acquire your cheapest new member through recruitment efforts. Have you recently called your lapsed members? Regularly giving lapsed members a simple way to reinstate right over the phone–and periodically asking dropped members to quickly rejoin–has proven to be an incredibly effective way to increase your member count.

So, before you go for that big play to grow your membership or increase your dues/non-dues revenue, first ask yourself this–”Are we consistently blocking and consistently tackling in every game?” If the answer is yes, then start drawing up the big play. If the answer is no, then consider first focusing on your football fundamentals.

If you would like more information about the MGI Membership Lifecycle–or about how MGI can partner with you to improve your blocking and tackling–contact John Sample, Senior Relationship Director, at or 703-706-0346.

Request a Membership Consultation