Insights

  • 7 Feb 2018 10:17 AM | Belinda Moore (Administrator)

    Many of my clients tell me they’re worried about the future of their association.  They’re worried about declining membership rates; lack of engagement; the increase in competitors (Google we’re looking at you!) and more. If you’re worried about the future of your association, and don’t know what move to make next, you need to know what’s coming down the pipeline. After all, forewarned is forearmed. Here’s just a few trends making headlines ... read the full article.

  • 7 Feb 2018 10:16 AM | Belinda Moore (Administrator)

    You can now download the Membership Managers' Handbook free of charge. This comprehensive guide incorporates practical information, useful tools and innovative ideas for ensuring long term membership growth in your association.  This book is updated regularly so please subscribe to be kept up-to-date as revisions are released.

  • 7 Feb 2018 10:16 AM | Belinda Moore (Administrator)

    In this paper you will read about a broad range of income generation ideas designed to inspire and motivate you to dramatically increase revenue into your association. Not all ideas will be appropriate for everyone and it is up to you to choose those that are most relevant for your organisation. Financial sustainability can only be ensured with diversified revenue streams, judicious financial management, effective leveraging and creative pricing strategies. Through using selected strategies learned from this workbook we hope to provide you with some of the tools to achieve this ... read the full article.

  • 7 Feb 2018 10:14 AM | Belinda Moore (Administrator)

    It is impossible to make informed decisions regarding your membership strategy without knowing your membership statistics. At the most basic level you should know your Retention Rate, Growth Rate, Loss Rate and Average Tenure – by each membership segment. If you don’t know how to work out these statistics, please download The Membership Managers' Handbook to get more information on how to do it.

  • 7 Feb 2018 10:13 AM | Belinda Moore (Administrator)

    I have worked with a number of associations recently who have wonderfully high retention rates but very low growth rates. After investigating further, it became apparent that all these associations have a wonderful range of services, many very happy members, and absolutely no sales function whatsoever. To fix this situation, and to effectively recruit new members, you need the have the following processes in place:

    A process for generating leads into your organisation. To create new members, you need prospective members. This means developing strategies for generating leads. This can include attending trade fairs, viral campaigns, and strong internal policies around the collection of opt-ins from prospective members with whom staff and volunteers come in contact with.

    A process for building a relationship with prospective members. Recruiting and retaining members is a bit like dating. Just because you are ready for them to join doesn’t mean they are ready to make that commitment. Having some regular non-member engagement is a great way to enable prospective members to get a feel for the organisation. This can include issuing free e-newsletter and enabling non-members to register to attend your events (at a much higher fee). 

    A process for converting someone from a non-member to a member. There are many great sales channels for membership including direct mail, e-mail, outbound telephone calls, and/or an on-the-ground sales team. Associations who are growing the most strongly use a mix of all of these. After a heavy swing to email over the past 7 years, we are now seeing associations generating an excellent return from sending a well-crafted direct mail piece followed up by a phone call.

    It is vitally important that every prospective member enquiry or outbound campaign is followed up with a phone call. This is an absolutely critical element to member recruitment success. With the advent of cost-effective, outbound call centres specialising in associations (such as Optimum Contact) there is no excuse for these calls not being made.  

  • 7 Feb 2018 10:10 AM | Belinda Moore (Administrator)

    I was sitting in an association board meeting recently and a discussion on the topic of “how much should we be charging sponsors” was underway.

    The discussion became quite robust and when I heard one person argue that they shouldn’t raise the sponsors fee because “we don’t have thousands of members” I had to step in.  

    The conversation went something like this …

    • Me:  How many you are currently using the services of your current investments partner?
    • Board:  Almost all of us.
    • Me:  Of those using his services, how much in total do you have invested with them?
    • Board:  [After a quick consultation around the table] Almost a billion dollars.
    • Me:  Wow, that’s a seriously large amount of money. How much would that be worth in fee income to that partner?
    • Board:  Not sure. At least a million per annum. Probably more.
    • Me:  And how much are you charging them per annum for the partnership?
    • Board:  Around $10,000 ... and it’s exclusive.
    • Me:  Hmmm … Do you think you might want to edge up that partnership fee just a touch? 

    While the size of the investment was somewhat stunning in this instance, this situation is not uncommon in the association sector. Few organisations devote much time to measuring the return on investment the sponsor is gaining from the arrangement. This invariably leads to a situation where you either:

    a)  Lose the sponsor because they aren’t receiving value (and you haven’t cared enough about the partnership to make sure they are); or

    b)  Lose out on income because you are providing value to your sponsor that is way out of proportion to what they are investing.

    Talk to your sponsors. You need to know how THEY define the success of the partnership. Once you know how they are measuring success, you can track and report against those variables. I guarantee you this information will be invaluable. It will become the focus of discussions when renewing or on-boarding sponsors. And, in our exceptionally competitive sponsorship industry, it will set you apart from the competition in a very positive way.

  • 7 Feb 2018 10:09 AM | Belinda Moore (Administrator)

    When selling membership, the fee you charge is not the most important factor. Instead it is the value the membership fee represents and how effectively that value is communicated.

    Many associations struggle to articulate the true value of membership because it is generally intangible and therefore somewhat challenging to explain. So people default to speaking about the tangible aspects of the membership. Unfortunately, these are generally just features of membership (E.g. websites, magazines, events) which aren’t very compelling without being put into the context of a value proposition.  

    A prospective member is not making a donation to the organisation. They are making an investment. To get them to join you need to start the conversation by articulating how the member will realise a successful return on their investment. Some broad examples of how you might begin include:

    For a business owner seeking to join an industry or professional association – When you join our association you are making an investment into the success of your business. By joining us you will increase your opportunities to generate new business, reduce your expenses, raise your profile, and gain a competitive advantage over those who aren’t members.

    For an individual joining a professional association – When you join our association you are making an investment into the success of your career. We will provide you with the tools, skills and networks to help fast track your way up the career and salary ladder. As a member you can access opportunities to raise your profile, reduce your outgoings and advance your career that simply aren’t readily available to non-members.

    The most compelling value statements are highly targeted towards the specific member segment you are communicating with. For example, a student entering into a new career may be focused on ensuring they get the information and support to get the best possible start in their career. However, someone nearing retirement may be more interested in legacy building and succession planning.  

  • 7 Feb 2018 9:25 AM | Belinda Moore (Administrator)

    Securing new, high-value partnerships is NOT about selling your organisation. 

    When you send your proposal, the purpose of your proposal is not to tell the potential sponsor everything about your organisation. The proposal is a teaser whose role is to excite the reader into wanting to learn more. 

     When you follow up your proposal on the phone, the purpose of the call is not to tell the potential sponsor everything about your organisation. The purpose of that call is to secure a face to face meeting to discuss things further.

    And when you do get that meeting, the purpose of the meeting is not to tell the potential sponsor everything about your organisation. The purpose of the meeting is to ask questions to learn more about what the sponsor is trying to achieve, what marketing channels work most comfortably for them, and what their idea of a “successful” partnership looks like. It is your opportunity to build a genuine relationship with the individuals in the other organisation and seriously evaluate whether they are the right partner for your organisation.

    With the information you have gathered, you can tailor your sponsorship package to effectively achieve the outcomes your potential sponsor is seeking in a manner both organisations are comfortable with. Now is your opportunity to make a compelling, high value, offer with measurable, tangible outcomes for all parties. 

  • 7 Feb 2018 9:21 AM | Belinda Moore (Administrator)

    There is a distinct difference in the "tone" of communications between associations who are successfully engaging their members and those who are performing poorly.

    Those doing poorly have a very transactional communications style. It is geared only to convey information in a bland and unengaging manner.  For example: Welcome to the association. Your membership number is #. Your password is #.

    Those engaging well have a very warm, friendly and engaging communication style.  For example: Welcome to the association. We are looking forward to meeting you face to face and helping you to make the most of your membership. Speaking of which, there is an event coming up in your area next week. Would you like to come along so I can introduce you around to some of the other members? 

    When writing communications to members I picture a specific member in my head (who I like) and then pretend I am writing the communication specifically to them. 

    I also keep in mind is the outcome I am trying to achieve. Eg: If the purpose is to get the new member activating a portion of their membership, then my entire communication is geared to achieve that action. 

  • 7 Feb 2018 8:37 AM | Belinda Moore (Administrator)

    How does the prospect of a significant economic downturn affect the day to day operations of your association?

    Business Models - During a downturn your organisation becomes particularly vulnerable to losses and can easily miss opportunities for gains due to tight financial and staff resources. If you’ve got an ancient business model that is barely surviving the not-so-new millennium, then don’t count on it making it through a downturn. Now is the time to review your business model to ensure you are optimally set up to succeed in the current and future operating environment. I recommend reading Peggy Hoffman’s Mission Driven Volunteer article for more insights on this. It’s a couple of years old but still very relevant.

    Sponsorship & Partnerships - We are seeing big changes in how corporates are seeking to partner with associations. They are investing more money than ever but into fewer partnerships. They want tangible results and creative implementation. They are seeking engagement with the “right” people (rather than a lot of people). They will run screaming from the next person who puts “we will put your logo on our website” as a major potential partnership benefit (seriously … please don’t do this). When you submit a proposal for a partnership you are entering a VERY competitive space. Associations are investing heavily into business partnership programs that are highly professional. You need to ensure your program can compete. (If you’d a copy of a successful proposal to give you an idea of what is out there email me on info@smsonline.net.au).

    Membership – Research has shown that membership is counter-cyclical. People tend to gravitate towards associations during downturns … provided that association is providing tangible value. Now is the time to look at the value you are providing to members. Are you really making a positive difference in their lives? Would they notice if you were gone? If the answer to those questions is “no” then you’ve got serious work to do. Your goal is to ensure you are truly entangled into the lives of your members throughout their career. If you have organisational members, you need to ensure you have multiple points of contact within each organisation - and a relationship with each contact. For membership ideas check out the Membership Managers' Handbook

Strategic Membership Solutions (SMS)
PO Box 1400, COOPAROO DC QLD 4151 AUSTRALIA
Telephone: 1300 852 303  Email: info@smsonline.net.au


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