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Non Dues Revenue for Non Profits

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

Build it and They will Come? (440 words)

Membership growth through value and return on investment (ROI)

Membership Growth

My work in non-profit membership growth since the late 1980’s has revealed to me that if the member perception of value is paramount. What members (or prospective members) believe is all that matters.

Associations frequently do a good job of creating member value, but not such a good job of communicating that value in a way that matters to members. It is a particular skill set to be able to write influencing (sales) copy. Most association marketers write about the features of membership but forget to tell the member or prospect how those features will make their life better. (It is all about me :>) Everyone wants an exceptional return on their investment (ROI) of time and money, but how many association marketing and/or communication pieces clearly demonstrate that. (Not many.)

What many association executives do not understand for sustained membership growth is the relationship bank issue. Making no, or few, deposits throughout the year equals bankruptcy–but at the end of the year association executives try to take a withdrawal (ask for renewal) when there’s nothing in the bank. Crazy, isn’t it? How can you expect to drink from an empty glass? Funny how some think they can.

Qualitative research, specifically the Member ROI Valuation Process reveals member perception of value…helping association staff and volunteer leaders to determine what products and services to sunset and what to keep. If something you do only benefits a very few, why are you spending resources in that area? Invest your organization’s resources (time and money) in things that benefit MOST of your members.

Build it and they will come is important for membership growth…but only if you build it correctly (member expectations) and do an excellent job of communicating why it is in their best interest to come (not the association’s best interest). In my book, Developing Strategic Alliances I when into great detail about relationship bank deposits. Key for this discussion is an understanding of what creates value for the other? If you develop something your members and/or prospects do not want–you get frustrated that they do not take advantage and they get frustrated because your are shouting from the rooftops about something in which they have no interest.

To earn my Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential, I had to understand the SPIE model: Scan, Plan, Implement, Evaluate and so do you. Scan what your market offers and what your customers (members) want. Then develop a plan to build it. Now build it. After you build it, review–did they really want it? Did you build it correctly? Did you market it correctly?

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

Cooperative Mastermind Alliance

Mastermind Alliances to Further Your Career (895 Words)

Cooperative Mastermind Alliance

Mastermind word cloud hand sphere concept on white background.

John F. Kennedy said, “Lofty words cannot construct an alliance or maintain it; only concrete deeds do that.” Partnering and alliances are the terms used to describe mutually beneficial relationships. Partnering is the business paradigm for the next millennium. Relationships are the corner stone of any successful business. Outrageously Successful Relationships (OSRs) are the conduits for successful business growth. More people in business today should make the smart decision and make daily Relationship Bank Deposits, the concrete deeds Kennedy spoke of in 1963. You must make deposits before you can withdrawal.

Throughout my adult life, people have recommended that I should work harder. Some have suggested I work smarter. My choice is the latter, to work smarter. Business is getting more complex, seemingly by the day. Both you and I should continually seek additional solutions to our daily business challenges. Partnering with others to create alliances for various reasons is my answer to the idea of working smarter.

Develop Your Mastermind Alliance

First on my working smarter list is to develop a personal Mastermind Alliance. Mastermind Alliances, also known as strategic alliances for individual development, can assist you in eclipsing your competition. This holds true for both your career and your enterprise. I belong to a geographical mastermind alliance, called Gold Coast Speakers, which consists of other professional speakers and consultants.

We started meeting early in 1989 and continued to get together about once a month or so. This is a confidential environment where each can share their gifts and receive counsel on important business, career and personal issues. I do not believe I would have survived in my speaking career without this relationship. The members of my mastermind alliance are some very special and giving people. The group consists of not more than a dozen members that are geographically close to one another, this allows us to regularly meet. We rotate from home to home, each member having the opportunity to host a meeting. We make it simply for the host by ordering delivered pizza.

Another mastermind alliance success story is the Downtown Palm Springs, CA breakfast club. A couple years ago I interviewed Tim Ellis, general manager at the Riviera Resort & Racquet Club in Palm Springs. The interview was for an article about Palm Springs’ strategic alliance with other California cities to draw tourists to the state. He told me about his downtown Palm Springs mastermind alliance. It consisted of general managers from seven other deluxe hotels, the convention center director and the owner of the aerial tram. They meet every Wednesday and rotate member locations weekly. They discuss issues uniquely important to the hospitality business in downtown Palm Springs.

I recently spoke with Tim. He is no longer at the Riviera. He started his own company, Lathom Hotels. Tim bought one hotel and leased another. The hotels both feature suites with full kitchens. He started his company to serve a neglected niche in town, long-term retired guests. He told me that much of his success comes from the networking relationships in the breakfast club. He said that he could not have picked up and done the same thing in another town. And yes, he still belongs to the alliance.

Mastermind Alliance Core Values

There are five personal core values that I believe are necessary for your Mastermind Alliance members to possess. They are trust, tolerance/ understanding, cooperation/growth, caring/commitment, and synergy/mutuality. Use these values as your guide when making member selections. Too often I’ve heard people talking marriage but really acting one-night stand. This behavior is what I call cotton candy partnering. Like cotton candy, it looks good and tastes great but disappears in seconds. These are definitely not concrete deeds and not the type of members you’ll want in your Mastermind Alliance. In contrast, integrity partnering is what allows synergistic solutions, the concrete deeds.

Use your group as a sounding board for ideas you might have missed, to uncover unnoticed pitfalls in your plans and various other important areas that offer you value. In the group of which I am a member, we spent an entire year dedicating each meeting to individual members for dealing with their specific issues. Wow! It was powerful to have several people focus their energy and attention to a single member’s issues. Giving energy can be as powerful as receiving it. I learn when I am being helped with my issues and when others are helped with theirs.

To make this kind of alliance relationship valuable for all involved the giving or Relationship Bank deposits must be frequent. Additionally, all the members of the alliance must be committed to the alliance itself. When this happens the alliance becomes a living entity and begins to evolve in it’s own direction. While this might seem odd, I have regularly found it to be true.

Benefits and Pitfalls

Inherent while building Mastermind Alliances, you will notice both benefits and pitfalls. The benefits of alliance relationships usually outweigh the pitfalls. Be careful and methodical in the search for Mastermind Alliance partners and in the elements of which the alliance will operate. Remember Caveat Pars (Partners Beware), as the road to successful alliance partnering has roadblocks, land mines and quicksand pits. Knowing how to select the right alliance partners and making good selections is truly a concrete deed, of which Kennedy spoke. Make your relationship Bank Deposits and you will surely develop Outrageously Successful Relationships (OSRs) with your Mastermind Alliance group members.