Stevie Kernick, owner emeritus and account manager
If your association’s membership year coincides with the calendar year then chances are that you are about to engage, or already are engaged, in the annual membership renewal cycle.
Let’s assume that the Membership Committee has already completed an assessment of the association’s dues structure and, if changes were approved, the membership was duly notified six months in advance of the effectiveness date.
Initiate your renewal campaign a minimum of 60 days before the end of the association’s membership year. For a large organization, the date might be 90 days prior to year-end.
Besides the necessary mechanics of preparing your AMS for the new dues year, updating the association’s hard copy renewal forms and new member applications, take time to define a strategy for retaining 100 percent of the current year’s members. It’s OK to be optimistic and to make this your goal.
Step one of your renewal strategy should include listing all of the association’s accomplishments from the current year. Depending on the goods and services provided, these successes could include total number of members for the current year, retention percentage, number of new members, conferences held and registration totals, webinars or other educational programs offered, papers produced and published, media recognition, legislative achievements, speaking engagements completed, financial successes, to name a few. Brag a little!
Move on to your step-by-step membership campaign. Think about your goals and expectations as you would any other marketing campaign for the association. Consider using a grid that allows you to clearly see each step and quantify the results:
This grid should be expanded with multiple, scheduled touches until your retention goals are reached.
When considering the distribution method, be sure to include at least one old-fashioned, U.S. postal service mailing. This will capture organizations (assuming organizational memberships) whose key contact for your association has left the company with emails to that person dumping into an unattended inbox.
Before deactivating those final non-renewed members, engage the entire Membership Committee and Board of Directors in a telephone campaign. Generate a script covering the key reasons for renewal and questions to pose during the call. Parse out the names and phone numbers of the remaining non-renewed members with a “contact by” date so you can assess the success of these calls.
The value of this personal contact cannot be overstated. In addition to the high touch approach this signals to the uncommitted member, it’s an opportunity for leadership to engage with members and learn about their needs and expectations of the association. If the reason for a non-renewal is because needs are not being met, that is a strong message back to the leadership that needs further review.
Whether or not a personal call results in a renewal, the value of the conversation can be, as they say, “priceless.”
Aim high and settle for nothing less!