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Member Retention through Relationship Bank Deposits (829 words)

Member Retention through Relationship Bank Deposits

Member Retention through Relationship Bank Deposits

Ultimately yours like most associations and societies are looking for net-member growth and there is no better way than member retention through relationship bank deposits. Some do a great job keeping members but still lose many to attrition. Some are awesome at recruiting but tend to have a turnstile of members coming and going. Unfortunately, net-growth seems to be illusive to many.

Offense and Defense

To enjoy net-member growth, it’s obvious but frequently forgotten, that an organization has to be excellent at both recruitment and retention–every day. This is a challenge as many find it hard to continually focus on two things (1) how to get them and (2) how to keep them. Member Retention through Relationship Bank Deposits relies on the features of membership you make available to members. This can help with the hard part…communicating how the features make members’ life better. This is the Achilles Heal of most associations and societies—communication. Specifically, communicating value. Too many of the communication directors want to concisely communicate facts to save their readers time. That’s great, but in doing so there is a massive opportunity loss—opportunity to prove value, remind of value, and subliminally lock in the perception of value among the membership. This ability is excellent offense and defense.

If You Don’t Tell It Didn’t Happen

Early in my career I received a lesson that I have carried for life. Selling consumer goods (sunglasses) to the retail industry (drug stores), I was making my rounds when upon visiting a particular store I found the products of a competitor on my display. Upon asking the owner about his purchase he told me that he was told that the particular style was very trendy. I agreed and told him that that particular style had been on his display (from me) for several months already. He didn’t know because I failed to mention it to him, therefore leaving a competitor to wedge in. If you fail to tell, it didn’t happen and you are leaving an opening for another organization to sell their value.

Value Communication

Communicating value to your members is making relationship bank deposits. Two key places to look to determine the quality of your value communication is at (1) your “Member Benefits” page at your website and (2) your electronic communications. Are you “telling” members how your organization makes their life better or simply mentioning features of membership and expecting them to make the translation for themselves? This is crucial for Member Retention through Relationship Bank Deposits.

  • Member Benefits page. First check and see if the text happens demonstrate features or benefits? Features explain what’s built into the product or service and benefits explain how the features make the user’s life better. You’ll most likely have to admit that what you have listed is features rather than benefits.
  • Electronic Communications. Most likely your communication editor is keeping the copy “tight” in hopes that the reader will review the entire piece. Read through what is written and ask yourself this for everything you read, “Who Cares?” and “So what?” If your two questions are answered clearly, you might have benefit copy.

Every time, you want to communicate in as many methods as possible, “Because of your membership, this is how we are making your life better.” This kind of communication, continually, is how your organization makes regular relationship bank deposits with its members.

Relationship Bank Withdrawals

In order for your organization to make sufficient relationship bank deposits for the time of member renewal…when you do attempt to take a withdrawal, this effort must be CONTINUAL. In the cosmic relationship bank, consider that about a dozen deposits are requited for each withdrawal. This would mean that you would have to make about one deposit a month just to get a member to renew. Deposits come in all sorts of forms: awesome meeting, membership pins stating longevity, HQ staff helping with something, etc. The sky is the limit; you just have to remember that value is in the eye of the beholder. This means that just because you think something is valuable (a deposit) if the member does not think the same—it is not a deposit.

Everything as Separate

Bundling is easy, saves time and makes the life of your staff easier. But, doing so diminishes member-perceived value. Everything your organization does for a member should be delivered, regardless of the conduit, separately. Sending a new member package filled with stuff is one relationship bank deposit. However, sending each included item out separately—while it does take more work—is one relationship bank deposit per item. With a little more work, your organization can create vastly more perceived-value. This is Member Retention through Relationship Bank Deposits at its best. As we all know, it is about the member’s perception, not yours. Never offer two or more resources at no charge to members in a single email—break it up. If you extrapolate out this paradigm throughout your organization you will, yearly, deliver enormously more perceived-value to your members and they will reward you when renewal time comes and you request a relationship bank withdrawal.

The key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.

Member ROI Valuation for Recruitment at Associations and Societies (1279 words)

Grow your non profit by proving member ROI with the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process

The Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process

Learn the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process for non-profit membership growth.

The Problem:

For trade associations and professional societies, identifying the value your members want without the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process can be a bit like threading a needle in the back of a Jeep, while crossing granite boulders, at 40 miles per hour—but it doesn’t have to be. Associations and societies exist to serve the interests of the participants or stake holders in their industry or profession—it is that simple.

Yet, extenuating factors, erroneous or not, frequently muddy up the waters of association or society focus. A very good argument could be made for the idea that too many association or society activities serve merely the vocal few in leadership. A convincing argument could be made for the idea that associations and societies focus too keenly on self-perpetuation. I am not going to make arguments in this article for these ideas but rather share my observation from two decades working with trade associations and professional societies.

Large associations tend to have a turnstile of employees. Young wide-eyed graduates with diploma in hand, go to work for associations or professional societies with dreams of making a difference. Then, they either become disillusioned or move somewhere else for career advancement. Frequently these young staffers start in member services department. Hence the problem—by the time they learn their job, they have moved on. The Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process can solve this problem by having stable and usable member value numbers for all staff and volunteer leaders.

Conversely, in the small associations, run by the executive director and perhaps a couple part-time staffers, there just is never enough time to follow up on those inquiries of potential members. Either the interested party must join on their own accord by filling out the membership application found at the Web Site by clicking the “Join” button or move on. This two decade old observation was painfully reinforced recently. The example I’m about to share, believing it or not, did occur.

One of my avocations is being the CEO of an IRS recognized non-profit public charity https://cigarpeg.com/. I recently decided that it would be good for me to join a related association so I called two California State Associations, one for association executives and one specifically for non-profits. As of the writing of this article, I have joined neither.

One of the two, I called and left a message with the membership person; she returned my call and left a voice message. That was the last time I heard from that association and it has now been a while. The second, I chatted with their membership person and am still waiting for an information package she promised to “get right out” to me.

In the situation with the first association, would it not make sense to you that the director of membership make a second attempt to contact a prospective member that called for information about membership? I just got busy and didn’t call her back. Had she called me back a second time, I believe I would have joined instantly.

As for the second association, I was amazed that when I asked the membership person about the value I would receive from being a member, she asked if I was joking. I was not, and was less than impressed with her lack on knowledge as to the benefits of membership. I have been even more unimpressed with her lack of follow through. I really did want the prospective member package to help me decide which association to join.

The issue is twofold, first how association and society membership departments track their prospective members. Many folks just need a little nudge, and they will join. However, when ignored they will put membership on the back burner, frequently forever. The second issue is knowledge. If a staffer has no idea as to the value that the members derive from their membership, how in the world can they influence industry participants to join?

Today, the model for business and professional persons is that they are looking for a return on their investment (ROI) rather than participating in their industry simply because they should. Yes, times have changed.

The Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process is the Answer:

Conduct the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process for determining the yearly sustainable real dollar value of membership at your next meeting? The American Society for Quality did so, three years in a row, at their annual meetings and discovered that their members receive over $50 in benefit and value for every one-dollar invested in membership. For anybody, that’s huge ROI! The National Air Duct Cleaners Association learned that their members benefited to the tune of $17 received for every dollar invested. For the National Frame Builders Association we revealed that their members received $10 in value for every dollar invested in their membership. It’s all about return on investment, that’s something no association or society executive, staffer or volunteer leader should ever forget.

The most significant reason for my belief in the need for urgency—urgency for every association and society, globally, to conduct the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process at their next meeting is recruitment. Why wait to plug up the leaking dike of member loss when you can do something about it now?

The Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process is, or should be, the cornerstone for your next member recruitment or member retention campaign. The single most important activity, resulting from the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process, is for your association or society to develop a marketing brochure for your members to handout. This brochure will easily demonstrate why it is a good business decision to join the association or society based on intelligent ROI.

The number one reason, in my experience, why marketing and recruitment collateral materials and campaigns are not successful is because real benefits are left out. Too frequently, when I review the marketing materials of associations that are intended for use in gaining new members, all I can identify is features, rather than the bottom line benefit to the prospective member. As I stated earlier, most people that join an association or society in today’s business environment are looking for ROI, and not the warm and cozy feeling of serving their industry. However, too many paid association staff and volunteer leadership are still stuck in the old warm and cozy paradigm. Read my lips, it is ROI!

Follow the below listed steps and I assure you that you will not be sorry you did.

  1. Conduct the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process at your next meeting. For more information on how to conduct this process, there are several articles at https://rigsbee.com/articles/association-growth/
  2. Association or society board of directors and paid staff review the specific value line items resulting from the process. Determine if more service and value can be offered to members under the most valued categories.
  3. Board then approves the changes and allows paid staff to implement. (Important note here, volunteer leaders need to “keep out of others’ rice bowls” and tend to their own, or nothing will ever get done.)
  4. Member recruitment brochure is to be developed based on the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process results. These brochures should be held for the next membership meeting, like the annual convention.
  5. Keynote presentation on industry collaboration should be scheduled for the meeting where the brochures are distributed. The job of your keynoter is to get your members excited about what is possible for their business through accelerated collaborations resulting from increased association or society membership.
  6. Keynoter announces the new membership recruitment campaign and asks for a commitment from each member to personally give out 10 brochures to colleagues and industry participants.
  7. The question of prizes for membership recruitment is frequently posed by association leadership. I am neutral on the subject; however I would recommend that you consider this: Do you want your members recruiting for tangible prizes or for the benefits they will receive through increased industry collaboration?

Are Your Meetings a Feature of Membership? (903 words)

Develop Member-Only Activities at your Meetings to prove the value of membership

Meetings as a Feature of Membership

Meetings Feature Membership, what does it mean? Here is the bitter pill…if non-members can attend…your meetings are not a feature of membership. However, the discount on registration and member-only events are.

Nearly every membership organization can further its mission more effectively, with more members. More members generally translate to larger meetings. To recruit more members, especially Millennials, there must be an outstanding perceived return on investment (ROI) offered.

Contemporary membership research, surveys, and reports all indicate that many membership organizations are challenged with trying to justify why one should join their ranks. There is the good old admonishment, “Join to support your industry.” This has become increasingly ineffective.  Let’s not forget the old standby, ”We have great networking.” Perhaps your organization has progressed to a more contemporary “We have great live and online communities”?

Yet, something is still missing…a truly compelling reason to join. What’s an association executive or director of membership to do? How to make your meetings a feature of membership?

Accelerate Your Action

In order to grow your membership and member meeting attendance, perhaps it is time to push against conventional wisdom and look in a new direction? Consider the inaccuracy that most of what is offered up by membership organizations as “member benefits” are in fact, features—perhaps features of membership. For an organization’s services, activities, or other things to be considered “features of membership” said services or activities must be available only to members. You must make some aspect of your meetings a feature of membership.

Industry benefit activities are those things, like advocacy, that create great value for everyone in the industry—not just the members. These activities are great customer service accomplishments for the longer-term members that care about them. However, they are quite ineffective in recruiting new members—because they receive the value without having to become a member.

Show Me the Money

While advocacy generally is not a feature of membership, a legislative update…distributed only to members clearly is a membership feature which will save the member time, money, and avoidance of regulatory pain…all buying motives. These buying motives are the actual benefit…the things that make your members’ lives better…the things that will motivate non-members to join like meetings feature membership. Like the above mentioned feature of membership, discount on meeting registration, saving money is the benefit and not the meeting.

Motivating the Meetings Feature of Membership

Consider grabbing the opportunity to drive more value, more member ROI, for members at your meeting. There is currently much discussion in the meetings industry about “meeting ROI” but very little about “member ROI.” What the members get in exchange for their annual dues should be important to any association executive. To effectively increase “member ROI” at any of your meetings, consider including in your scheduled offering a number of “member-only” educational, networking, and/or social sessions. You will find this most effective at times when multiple activities are taking place at the meeting so there will be something for non-members to do. And, remember to develop some specific member-only education or activities for your long-term members. They need more than simply a place to see their friends once a year.

As you now know, it is only the registration discount that is the true meetings feature of membership. Add to this feature some member-only activities and those activities also become features of membership. You will greatly increase the total perceived member ROI (member-only). You will be offering your current members more compelling reasons to attend your meetings and to retain their membership. For the non-members, this is like the take-away close—a powerful reason for the non-member to join your organization.

Influence the Decision to Join

There is no advantage in vague or fuzzy-bunny “member value proposition” marketing without meetings feature membership. In order to grow your membership base, which will increase your opportunity to influence more members to attend your meetings; it is crucial that your organization clearly communicate its member value proposition in the area of Meetings Feature Membership. A reasonably easy and inexpensive way to achieve this goal is to calculate the member-perceived real-dollar value of each “member-only” feature of membership. Communicating your organization’s real-dollar member ROI via your website and other marketing channels, both printed and electronic, will go a long way to telling your value proposition story and influencing the decision to join.

Meetings Feature MembershipGive ‘em What They Want

There is the question of which segment(s) you will get the best “bang for your buck” in influencing both membership and meeting attendance? Generally it will be those people that are newer to the industry. They truly have the most to gain from membership. To influence this segment, you have to communicate how it is in their best interest to participate with your organization. During recruitment, is not the time for talking to these younger people about all the great value the organization delivers to the industry. There will be plenty of time for that after they have engaged in your organization and will better understand the value.

Now is the time to communicate the great value that your organization delivers to its members—the ROI of membership based on each member-only feature, especially Meetings Feature Membership. It is your job to help them understand the real-dollar value of each of these features of membership that your organization offers. This will hopefully include a number of new “member-only” activities at your upcoming meetings.