Spark Consulting

Membership Q&A: When Should I Ask Them to Join?

Spark Consulting

What is the ideal time to ask a prospect to join? This is actually two questions: When in the cycle of relationship should I invite a prospect to join? When in the cycle of the year should I invite a prospect to join? Relationship. The glib answer is: “When she’s ready to say yes.” ” Hopefully, the follow up question has already occurred to you: “How do I know when that is?”

Reading Partners DC Needs Our Help!

Spark Consulting

[This post is NOT about association management, but many members of the association community are in the DC area, and an outstanding DC nonprofit could REALLY use our help right now.].

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Membership Q&A: Why Won’t They Join?

Spark Consulting

Why aren’t our prospects joining our association? They don’t see value in joining. Let’s unpack that a little bit. The reason they don’t see value in joining may be because they don’t see it YET, or it may be because it isn’t there. They don’t see value yet. What that means is that you’re moving too fast.

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Partnership v. Membership: Defining Terms

Spark Consulting

Lewis and I are both going to take a crack at this topic, and I’ve elected to go first. I see partnership and membership as being founded on the same broad idea: individuals or organizations that seek some type of a relationship with an association.

Membership Q&A: What’s the Most Effective Renewal Cycle?

Spark Consulting

When is the best time of the year to begin renewal communications to members? How many notices should we send? Should we send paper or electronic notices? What should we send WITH the notices? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no one right answer to these questions. There are some good guidelines, which we’ll go over in a minute, but really, you have to test different options and, more importantly, PAY ATTENTION to what happens.

Membership 101: Who Counts?

Spark Consulting

Who do you consider to be your members? That seems like an easy question: “Anyone whose dues are current,” right? But if you dig a little deeper, it quickly gets a lot more complicated. Do you offer a grace period? Are there ways to pay other than money?

Membership 101: Ladders of Engagement Revisited

Spark Consulting

Once members join, the next question becomes: How do you keep them? How do you build real relationships over time that deepen your commitment to each other and lead to long-term loyalty on both sides? The answer is ladders of engagement.

Membership 101: The Full Series

Spark Consulting

I’ve gotten through all the topics I had planned for the Membership 101 series, which leads to two additional questions: What did I miss? Are there membership topics you were hoping I’d cover that I never did? So then you might ask: “Um, what were all the topics you covered again?”

Membership 101: The Role of Volunteerism

Spark Consulting

“Engaged members renew. Disengaged members don’t.” ” If you’ve been around the association industry for more than a few minutes, you’ve undoubtedly heard at least one membership professional say that. Volunteerism is a MAJOR opportunity for engagement.

Membership Q&A: Networking Events

Spark Consulting

What is the best type of networking event to hold to get the maximum member engagement? It depends. I know, I say that a lot.

Membership 101: Exit Surveys

Spark Consulting

Sometimes, despite your best efforts to understand your members’ most pressing problems and most important goals, and provide solutions for them, members lapse. What happens next? You should try to find out why they left.

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Membership 101: What IS “Engagement,” Anyway?

Spark Consulting

Association membership professionals, particularly in the last several years, talk about engagement A LOT. We want our members to be more engaged. We want to measure engagement. We want to score engagement. We want to reward engagement.

Membership Q&A: Maximizing Revenue AND Participation

Spark Consulting

What dues rates will maximize both revenue and participation? That’s a good one! This question actually came in from a client, and here’s what I told them: The perils of pricing too high are obvious – no one will buy, because you’re too expensive. Pricing too low is equally bad, though, because people don’t value something that they feel is cheap.

Membership 101: What About Trade Associations?

Spark Consulting

If you’ve been following the Membership 101 series, you may be wondering: “What about trade associations? A lot of your advice seems directed to individual membership/professional associations. My members are companies/institutions. Does your advice still hold?” ” The answer?

Membership Q&A: Don’t Leave Us!

Spark Consulting

What’s the #1 reason a long-standing member would not renew? As Dr. Theodore Woodward of the University of Maryland School of Medicine taught his med students in the 1940: “When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses not zebras” For our purposes, that means start with the obvious: Did that member switch careers or retire? If so, you may have to chalk this one up to “forces beyond our control,” and let that person go.

Membership 101: Reinstatement

Spark Consulting

Hopefully, your exit survey recaptured a number of your members who lapsed due to inattention. What about the ones who lapsed for cause? Is it worth trying to get them back? Yes, with some conditions.

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Membership Q&A: How Much Is TOO Much?

Spark Consulting

How many follow up touch points is too many follow up touch points? When are we just getting annoying? A good general rule is: As long as you’re still getting enough response to justify the investment of resources in the touch point, keep going. But how do you know? You have to pay attention to the response rate you get from each communication. Open rate matters, and per the INFORMZ 2017 Association Email Benchmarking Report , you should be looking for an open rate of around 35%.

The Passive Experienced Member

Spark Consulting

The MCI Group recently released the American Engagement Index 2017 (the link takes you to a page where you can enter your contact information to get your own copy, and you really should).

Retention is a Relationship

Spark Consulting

And you can’t claim to have a relationship with people you don’t know.

Membership Q&A: Is There a Tipping Point?

Spark Consulting

Is there a “tipping point” when too many benefits start to get lost in the shuffle? . People associate because they’re trying to accomplish something or solve a problem that they’ve been unable to do alone. So yes, your members come to you looking for something in particular – help solving a particular problem that has so far proved intractable or achieving a particular goal that has so far proved unattainable.

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Membership 101: Effective Renewal Cycles

Spark Consulting

At some point, after generating leads and nurturing relationships and persuading people to join and helping them find their own individual engagement paths, it’s time to ask your members to renew, to stick with you another year.

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Four Keys to Writing Good Marketing Copy

Spark Consulting

How do you write good marketing copy? In a nutshell: Think about your audience. Who are they? What do you know about them? Use that information to craft a personalized message. Talk like a real person, and write like you speak. Shorter and simpler is better than longer and more complex.

Letter to John Graham and Scott Wiley

Spark Consulting

Monday, November 21, 2016. John Graham, President & CEO, ASAE. Scott Wiley, Chairman, ASAE. Dear John and Scott: This letter is a call for meaningful community-wide dialogue and action on behalf of a nation at risk. One week ago, Associations Now Daily announced that ASAE signed a National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) letter “to the president-elect” expressing a desire to “work productively” with the incoming administration.

Membership 101: Should You Reward Novelty or Loyalty?

Spark Consulting

It’s a trick question! You should reward both. . Associations generally do a good job rewarding novelty. The new member gets the special rate. The first time attendee gets the unique badge ribbon and the exclusive reception with the board of directors and committee chairs.

Membership Q&A: Tiered Benefits

Spark Consulting

D o members respond well to “tiered” membership plans? Generally, yes, with an important caveat. There must be meaningful differences in member behavior patterns. If all your members pretty much behave the same and use your benefits the same, there’s nothing around which to differentiate tiers. Or if you don’t have enough benefits to allow for it, you really can’t create tiers.

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Seven Keys to Great Testimonials

Spark Consulting

One of the best ways to promote your association and its programs, products, and services is to let your members, customers, audiences, and other stakeholders do it for you. In other words, to use testimonials.

Q&A on D&I

Spark Consulting

Did you miss the July 12 webinar my Include Is a Verb co-author Sherry Marts and I presented for the Wild Apricot Experts series on living your talk on D+I? Never fear!

Bridging the Education to Employment Gap Will Take An Industry-Wide Movement

Spark Consulting

I recently had the opportunity to contribute to Association Success’s SURGE 2018 spring conference, hosting a “monitor-side chat” with Shelly Alcorn and Tracy Petrillo on the association role in the new educational paradigm.

Rethinking What It Means to Be a Member

Spark Consulting

A few months ago, I had a chance to sit down (virtually) with Beth Brodovsky and talk about what’s changing in membership relationships. The podcast is out !

Reduce Barriers to Entry

Spark Consulting

Just about every association I know of is struggling to recruit younger members (aka Millennials). Part of the reason for that is that we’re erecting barriers to entry rather than removing them. What’s required to be considered part of your association’s community?

Membership Q&A: Discounts

Spark Consulting

Are members who join with a price incentive more or less likely to renew membership the following year? Less likely. Don’t offer pricing discounts unless your audiences are EXTREMELY price sensitive or your membership is declining and you’re desperate to get people in the door by any means necessary. Does offering a discounted membership based on time of the year (i.e. a summer sale) dilute the value of membership?

Where are the YPs?

Spark Consulting

“How can I recruit young professional members if there are no young professionals entering our industry?” ” I’ve been thinking about this question a lot recently, not least of which because I have a client that is in this EXACT situation.

Growth Strategies from Top Fundraisers Q&A

Spark Consulting

In my last post , I shared the link to the webinar my Steal Like a Fundraiser co-author Sohini Baliga and I presented for Wild Apricot on March 21.

What Really Worked in 2016?

Spark Consulting

Beth Brodovsky, who hosts the Driving Participation podcast (and if you haven’t checked it out yet, what are you waiting for?) recently asked a bunch of her former guests this insightful question for a year-end episode.

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Associations Respond to Hurricane Harvey

Spark Consulting

In case you missed it, ASAE’s Collaborate forum (member login required) has recently been hosting a robust discussion of how associations are helping their members and the local community in Houston and southwest Louisiana respond to Hurricane Harvey.

Growth Strategies from Top Fundraisers

Spark Consulting

My Steal Like a Fundraiser: Innovations in Cause-Oriented Fundraising for Associations co-author Sohini Baliga and I recently had the opportunity to talk with some smart people about the information in the whitepaper.

Associations and Trump’s Travel Ban

Spark Consulting

Airports and cities large and small erupted into chaos this weekend as Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning Muslims from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen from entering the US took effect.

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Membership 101: Why Did They Join?

Spark Consulting

My last membership 101 blog post addressed the question: how do I know when it’s time to ask a prospect to join my association? . The answer was: by studying your data.

Five Tips to Increase Your Email Open Rate

Spark Consulting

Want to increase your bulk email open rate? Of course you do! The subject is the most important part of the email. Spend time writing a meaningful one that will ensure your recipient will open and read more.

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The Mission Driven Volunteer Rides Again!

Spark Consulting

Earlier this month, Mission Driven Volunteer co-author Peggy Hoffman and I had the opportunity to present about our research on this topic for Wild Apricot. As is often the case with webinars, we weren’t able to get to all the questions during the Q&A. So we’re answering them now.