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Solving the Biggest Objection to Growth

Guest Post: By Mo Bunnell, Author of the Snowball System and founder of Bunnell Idea Group (BIG).

In this video, I’m going to explain the biggest barrier I hear our clients talk about when it comes to their own growth. There are three major plateaus that people can get to when it comes to growing their business.

Level one, bringing in enough business you can keep yourself busy. If you’re a professional, it might be bringing enough hours or projects to keep it busy. If you are an account manager, it is leading a client relationship for the first time. If you are a business owner, it is bringing enough to keep you busy, but nobody else. Those folks usually have one foot in delivery and one foot in business development.

Level two is where you get so good at this stuff, you are feeding an entire group of people, because your business development skills are so honed you can bring in enough business to feed others.

Level three, you get so great at this that you’re now teaching others how to do business development. In that case, you might have hundreds of people reporting to you in various mechanisms, so that you’re bringing in so much business and you’re helping others bring in their business that now you have an entire organization reporting up to you.

Why don’t people go from one level to the next? I hear one answer all the time, “Mo, I’m too busy. It takes too much time to run the business. I don’t have time to get better at my own craft of business development.”

But I have a solution for you. One of my friends, Mike Michalowicz, is a great author. He has had several books that have made a big impact on me, and he has a new one coming out in about a month called Clockwork. I got to review an early version of the book and I absolutely loved it. Mike breaks down every single thing that you need to do to make your business run like clockwork.

If you pair his book Clockwork with our book The Snowball System, you’ve now got a perfect game plan to get your business running on its own without as much of your involvement, which gives you time to tackle everything we teach in The Snowball System, so you can make it to whatever level is next for you when it comes to the craft of business development. Two things make businesses run great. One is the business runs on its own. The other is somebody is bringing in new business for growth. When you’ve got both things humming, you can’t help but help your clients succeed.

Why Retention Marketing Is More Important Than Member Acquisition

Acquiring new members is a driving force that motivates all associations, but it’s not without its limitations. For an association to thrive, it must eventually shift its focus to retaining the members it’s acquired, rather than only landing new ones.

A client or member who stays with your association over time gives you the chance to provide more ongoing value, develop more personalized content, nurture a brand advocate, gain referrals, and earn positive word-of-mouth marketing.

All of this is in addition to the fact that it costs less to retain an existing member than it does to acquire a new one, making it a smart move for your members and your bottom line to keep current members coming back.

The Facts About Member Retention

Research has shown that a 5 percent increase in member retention rates can increase profits by anywhere from 25 to 95 percent. In addition, not only does it cost five times more to acquire a new member than to retain a current one, but it also costs 16 times more to get new members to the same spending level as existing ones. Despite all this, less than a third of association leaders consider member retention a priority.

That could be due, in part, to the fact that the strategies for retaining members are very different from the ones used to acquire new members. While member acquisition relies on your ability to reach and attract new audiences, member retention is more about ongoing engagement, personalization, and value provided over time.

But by analyzing factors like purchase history, search history, and member feedback, you can implement marketing tactics that better facilitate engagement using personalized content that delivers value — targeting your members and clients with better messaging around the products and services they’re already interested in.

People want to work and spend money with brands that make them feel special. And at a time when members are looking for ways to meet their needs in faster, easier, and less expensive ways, your ability to keep them feeling important via highly targeted, customized messaging and offers will be key to retaining their membership.

5 Tactics for Retaining Members

Shifting your marketing strategy to retaining members doesn’t mean you won’t get any new ones, but it does give your association a way to turn existing members into advocates who can help drive acquisition. For your association to shift its focus and retain members, it must rethink member relationships and take advantage of marketing tactics designed specifically to engage its existing clients and members. Here are four ways to get started:

  1. Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to retain members. Ongoing email engagement is a solid part of any marketing strategy, so share new content, relevant offers, and updates as they’re available. For member retention specifically, consider strategies that contact your members when they’re about to run out of your product when they leave items in their cart, when it’s been a while since their last transaction, or on a special occasion to deliver a unique promotion.

  1. Member Appreciation

Many associations host some form of a member appreciation day or week that gives special attention and recognition to their loyal members. This can be helpful for giving members even more reason to continue memberships and demonstrating that you value what they do for your association.

Another good way to show your appreciation for your members is to engage them in a fun contest and reward their participation. For example, a year or so ago, Influence & Co. held a social media competition in which it asked followers to post pictures of someone who meant a lot to them and thank that person for being their #TopofMindMVP. Everyone who participated was entered in a drawing to win a free copy of John Hall’s book, “Top of Mind.” You can do something similar exclusively for your existing members, which will help strengthen your relationship and make for a fun exchange.  I’d like to recommend and encourage another book: Mo Bunnell’s “The Snowball System” – just released this week by Hachette Publishers.  It will completely change the way your members approach to building their business.

  1. Content Optimization

Member retention is about more than just the products and services you offer — it’s about the experience you provide for your members. Organizing and optimizing your website content to easily provide additional information and education about your products, services, and industry as a whole will make you a trusted, go-to resource for members.

And when they see you continue to communicate your thought leadership, the trust between your brand and your members strengthens. This helps you stay top of mind and gives you an opportunity to further recommend products or services based on a member’s search trends and website activity.

  1. Loyalty and Reward Programs

It almost goes without saying that people love a good rewards program. Earning points toward free stuff, discounted rates, and upgrades to current purchases is a great way to get your members coming back to you to meet their specific needs. Referral rewards are another way to encourage members to get the most out of your products and services and continue working with you. Plus, by rewarding current members who refer new users, you can encourage member retention and acquisition at the same time.

  1. Implement a Member Success Strategy

While acquiring new members is a fantastic way of building up a strong client base, its effects are limited without effective marketing that keeps members coming back to you over time. Find ways to make your members feel special and important through your messaging and communications with them. Doing so will help you build strong brand advocates and give your association the competitive edge it needs to continue to grow and succeed. Member Success is a system, run by people whose only goal is to help members get the most out of their membership. It happens straight after their joining the association is processed. Keeping members close and working with them 1-on-1 is a Member Success style known as Concierge Onboarding. While startups, SaaS companies, and now even associations like yours are starting to focus on it only now, the early results are promising — members who’ve gotten a customized onboarding experience with their membership and have returned year after year to their associations have doubled and reduced non-renewals (what We call Churn) by 50% over the last several years where Member Success has been more closely measured.

Member Success is where 90% of association revenue is. It doesn’t just mean that members keep paying their annual dues, it also means that they will be inclined to promote the member product to others in their industry and become advocates for your association.

With association memberships, successful members compound your revenue massively because they are the ones who encourage their peers to join your association, give you member prospect referrals and are promoters of your products and services.

Once your association becomes the go-to solution for a large company, that one member could be paying your entire Member Success team’s salaries every month!

If you’re ready to Get on Board with a member success program for your association, email us today. We’d love to set up a phone call, get to know you and your organization better, and discuss how in just 3 weeks’ time we get can get your association on the road to growth, ROI, and most importantly – happy members. Remember – you’re not in Association Membership Sales – you’re in Association Membership Success.

How much has your membership grown during the past 3 years?

Today’s associations – once the singular source for cutting-edge knowledge in their arenas – are battling membership loss and declining sponsorship revenues. To cope, associations must reach above and beyond member expectations.

 

Paying close attention—and adapting— to these trends will help keep associations relevant and able to meet their members’ needs, wouldn’t you agree?

 

In a world of customization and instant gratification, the membership model is being forced to adapt. The “Old way of Doing Things”’ or “We do it that way, because it’s the way we’ve always done it” just isn’t good enough anymore.

 

Understanding what members really want

Associations should ultimately be in the business of Member Success -helping their members be the best they can be at doing what they do – After all, isn’t this why associations really exist?

 

Your membership person or team should be communicating with them several times a year – at least once a quarter, when feasible – just a quick check in most cases, but it opens the door where they say “You know I’ve been meaning to contact you about an issue I’m having”, or “There’s a resource I have a need for. Can you point me in the right direction?”

 

Additionally, instilling in members – incumbent, and new – that the ROI of their membership is completely founded from Day 1 is highly important in solidifying in their minds, and yours, that they will return as members next year is critical for the financial health and well-being – and growth – of the association.

 

What Questions should you be asking your members when you talk to them?

So, what’s the best way to gauge member needs? Let them tell you – they will if you ask them.  You must talk to your members regularly; communicate with them and have open discussions about what they need from you – their association – to help them be successful. But, not just once or twice a year, when membership fees are due, when you “run into them” at convention, or at the legislative fly-in.

 

Some questions you should be asking them to elevate their awareness that you want to help them could be:

  • What was the initial reason you joined our association?
  • (How) were we able to help you with the need you had when you joined?
  • Have we met your expectation, or did you expect more (or less) from us?
  • How can we improve in this area (or, on Our Promise) so that we exceed the expectation you had for us?
  • Is there another area or challenge we could help you with as you move into the next phase of membership with our organization?
  • Which member resource or benefit have you had your eye on taking advantage of that you haven’t yet, and how can we facilitate that for you?
  • In this last membership term (month, quarter, year), did you have an opportunity to participate in a class or webinar, or any of our annual events like convention, or our partner/vendor provider expo? Would you like to participate in one of these events in the coming year?

 

And, probably the MOST IMPORTANT question you should be asking every member – at least twice a-year; mid-year, and about a month before dues invoices are sent out[1]:

  • On a scale of 1 – 10, How likely would you be to recommend an Association Membership to one of your industry peers, based on your experience as a member this last year?

1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10

 

Associations may believe they don’t have the resources for personalized member service, but a personalized approach doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming.

That’s where We come in.  Association Project Management has developed a system for creating Member Success in associations, that is simple and easy, yet scalable for any size organization – no matter what the industry.

MEMBER SUCCESS FOR ASSOCIATIONS is a program we’ve curated over ten years of working in the association management industry and primarily in the membership recruitment and retention field. We’ve taken every resource we’ve ever encountered, learned, successfully implemented, and refined and put them all together in this cohesive step-to-step system that anyone one can learn, replicate and even customize for their association.

And, speaking of customization – this is the KEY element to creating Member Success in your organization.

Great Member Experience = Referrals = New members

Choose to make the member experience a top priority. It is the only way to guarantee they will remain members and organically grow your association.

Improving Your Member Experience for Member Success

If everything else has clicked into place for your member and they’ve made it all the way up to the enrollment process, you must have made a good first impression! Unfortunately, it’ll be all for nothing if your member resources are hard to use, awkward, inflexible or disappointing over the long term, or if your membership plan’s onboarding isn’t tight.

In fact, a good member experience takes the weight off member support, too. Overall, you don’t want to put a barrier between your members and their tools or resources and most importantly for revenue, you don’t want to put a barrier between your paying members and your benefits.

What’s the link between Member Experience and Member Success?

The idea behind improving Member Experience with Member Success in mind is this:

  1. If you can make it easier for your members to interact with your resources, they will achieve success more quickly, firmly and… long-lastingly.
  2. Members should be primed for success from the moment they discover your association and its benefits to them. This means that they should know what to expect by reading your marketing and product overviews. It means they should have great interactions with the Member Success team who should try and teach the members about every feature they’ll need.
  3. Member Experience — how it feels to be a member, be welcomed into your community, learn how to use your resources and tools to drive their revenue and growth, and interact with your Member Success team — should be optimized to make sure your members want to stick around.

What is Member Success?

Member success starts out as an aim, not a department of people or a group of processes— what we call ‘lower-case’ Member Success.

It starts by recognizing that your members need more than a ‘user manual’ or an automated onboarding flow or email drip campaign for their membership to live up to the promises made on your website’s landing page.

Keeping members close and working with them 1-on-1 is a Member Success style known as Concierge Onboarding. While startups, SaaS companies, and now even associations like yours are starting to focus on it only now, the early results are promising — members who’ve gotten a customized onboarding experience with their membership and have returned year after year to their associations have doubled and reduced churn by 50% over the last several years where Member Success has been more closely measured.

Churn is the annual percentage rate at which members stop subscribing to a service or a membership and the benefits later, and it’s obvious that a member who is staring at the outset of their membership and wondering how they can best measure the ROI for their company – and they don’t have the guidance or hand-holding they need to fully benefit from their membership – that member is likely to cancel their membership and go look for something they understand — something that is easy to see the value of straight away.

Member Success is a system, run by people whose only goal is to help members get the most out of their membership. It happens straight after their joining the association is processed and continues for the life of the member – for as long as they’re a member of your organization.

Member Success is a mindset before it’s a department. It takes an “analytical approach towards retaining existing members and draws on great communication skills to forge long-lasting relationships with members.”

 

It’s part member onboarding – part member relationship building – part member retention.

Why is Member Success important?

Member Success in Your association is important because competition in the association world is harsh and you need Member Success in place to reduce churn and keep members around for the long haul.

Here are some points to consider:

Member Success connects promise to reality

It doesn’t matter how good your marketing is or how many deals you close, if members experience the disconnect between promise and reality and it isn’t patched up by a Member Success team, you’re going to get a high rate of churn.

You don’t want your member having to work harder to get what was promised by the membership coordinator because your product should be easy to implement for all members and deliver value from day one.

With every member renewal being an opportunity to cancel, it’s obvious that the member success process doesn’t stop after the initial set up.  Member Success teams need to be constantly available to keep members from falling out of love with their membership, no matter what.

Member Success should be ‘uncomfortably close’. While an exaggeration, it’s a good way of imagining how easily reachable and responsive your service should be.

Your competitors will steal your unhappy members

Disgruntled members who didn’t get the support (or even explanations) they wanted will seek out your competitors.

If your competitor is smart, they’ll have a great Member Success team who will get them set up with the product the same day the enrolment goes through. They’ll make certain that the member is happy and set up to get the most value they can out of the product.

 

For now, it’s enough to know that Member Success isn’t just about the unscientific art of making people feel warm and fuzzy. Like all business processes, it’s about making money.

A watertight member success process reduces churn and increases your revenue. Even a churn reduction of 4% can double your Annual Revenue Return (ARR).

Member Success is where 90% of association revenue is. It doesn’t just mean that members keep paying their annual dues, it also means that they will be inclined to promote the member product to others in their industry and become advocates for your association.

With association memberships, successful members compound your revenue massively because they are the ones who encourage their peers to join your association, give you member prospect referrals and are promoters of your products and services.

Once your association becomes the go-to solution for a large company, that one member could be paying your entire Member Success team’s salaries every month!

If you’re ready to Get on Board with a member success program for your association, email us today. We’d love to set up a phone call, get to know you and your organization better, and discuss how in just 3 weeks’ time we get can get your association on the road to growth, ROI, and most importantly – happy members. Remember – you’re not in Association Membership Sales – you’re in Association Membership Success.

[1] See our Article on the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and how to use it to increase revenue and defeat churn

8 words that Boost Cold-Calling Conversion Rates

The strategy of cold calling to sell products and services has been around for decades. Along the way, sales professionals have developed various proven tactics to convince their audience of the value of what they’re selling.

 

You, as the salesperson, hold the power of information. By educating your buyers about the products and services you offer, you can convert mere prospects into actual paying customers.

 

https://marketinginsidergroup.com/content-marketing/8-words-that-boost-cold-calling-conversion-rates/?utm_source=B2B+Marketing+Insider&utm_campaign=0283b04188-Marketing+Insider+Group+Top+Posts+Subscribers&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_40b372c1a0-0283b04188-108390729&mc_cid=0283b04188&mc_eid=79e548503b

How to Get Your Employees to Care About Social Media and Employee Advocacy

A common challenge organizations face when rolling out an employee advocacy program is engagement. Having worked with hundreds of organizations on the rollout of their social advocacy programs, it’s clear that in order to get your employees engaged, they need to understand why doing so will be of benefit to them.

The post How to Get Your Employees to Care About Social Media and Employee Advocacy appeared first on Marketing Insider Group.

By Cameron Brain, MIG Blog writer, on May 23, 2018