We know that there are key points when recruiting new members to any organization that are crucial to survival. But focusing only on recruitment can be a big mistake if you are ignoring the qualities, characteristics and attributes that attracted members in the first place. And, if as a result, you’re unintentionally “ignoring” your current members, they won’t come back.
Shelly Alcorn, an association blogger, describes this situation as follows:
“Leadership obsessed with recruitment at all costs will champion such things as running reckless membership promotion campaigns, offering deep, unsustainable dues discounts, offering commissions for new member sign-ups, or offering lavish prizes in member-get-a-member contests,” she writes. “They can even recruit more members than the association staff can adequately serve, leading to disappointment and low retention rates for new recruits.”
This can lead to existing members being confused on why all of these new members are joining and perhaps feelings of discontent may arise if your long-standing members are feeling ignored.
Last fall, the Greenfield Services’ Pulse Report pointed to a serious gap in Canadian associations’ member renewal marketing. The statistics in this report can be applied to associations in any area, really. For instance, 52.1% of respondents reported that they followed up with one to three touch points as renewal deadlines approached, and only 13.6% recognized that multiple touch points were likely required, following up seven or more times.
Current sales and marketing theory says that it can take up to 10 touch points to break through the noise and reach your audience. Yet, more than half of the respondents were only using up to three touch points for renewals!
And while member retention was a leading goal for nearly 60% of the associations surveyed, “fewer than half (48.5%) saw it as a top priority to demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) that would give members a compelling reason to renew, and fewer than three in 10 (27.2%) placed strong emphasis on new product or service offerings.” Two-thirds of the organizations invested less than 10% of their operating budgets in membership marketing.
If you’re not invested, why should your members be invested? Demonstrating the ROI and value you provide your members goes a long way in retaining current members and in obtaining new ones.
I am not suggesting that member retention should be your only marketing strategy. However, organizations need to find the right balance between recruitment efforts and retention efforts. Marketing content and social media communication should appeal to both current and future members simultaneously. That’s the key to building the deep pools of member loyalty and engagement that will keep your organization strong in good times and bad.
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