Friday, April 30, 2010

Corporate Loyalty Programs Need to Change to Membership Programs - Develop "Indispensability"

As reported by the 4/29/2010 issue of Colloquy:

"According to an article in Marketing Magazine UK, despite 86% of the population using retail loyalty cards on a regular basis, 50% of shoppers do not think it is worthwhile collecting points, according to a new survey conducted by YouGov SixthSense.

The report also found that 93% of consumers would continue to shop somewhere, even if the retailer scrapped its loyalty program. Only 17% of respondents choose where to shop based on their participation in loyalty card programs.

The top loyalty programs, in terms of usage, show that consumers participated in more that one program, with Tesco Clubcard being used by 66% of those surveyed, Nectar by 55%, and the Boots Advantage Card by 48%.

"Loyalty programs need to do more to create customer loyalty. The programs are best suited to retailers that are used frequently or where loyalty cards can be used in multiple stores, so that points and rewards accumulate at a fast enough rate to keep people interested", stated James McCoy, research director for YouGov SixthSense.

The online survey was carried out between February 18 and 20, and 1,469 British adults took part."

Corporations can learn a lesson from Membership Organizations by stepping up their "loyalty programs," by working to become indispensable to their customers.

Associations work to not only service their 'customer's' current needs, but to anticipate them. There in lies the difference - loyalty programs reward for the present whereas membership programs provide for the present on a more individual level as well as anticipates the future needs of their "customers." We discuss a 'customer life cycle' where we develop products and services for our members at different stages of their career or membership cycle.

If corporations want real loyalty, they need to not only be a friend today by providing benefits now, but be a friend tomorrow and anticipate their customer needs move over the time of their customer lifecycle.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What do job hunters need?

Job Boards are historically the #1 benefit of membership next to the publication and 'networking.' During the past 20 months, this has been more true than ever. Those associations that were quick to realize this early on effectively navigated this past recession with some associations actually growing.

Therefore, I thought it would be reasonable to include an excerpt from the April 26, 2010 issue of a weekly email I receive from ExecuNet, a recruiter. It points out the skills a job hunter needs to work effectively in finding a new position in this economy. I present this to you as an outline of what your members need to do if they are looking for a position in order to help you think about what services and products you may want to provide your membership in support of their job-hunting efforts.

"We recently released our 18th annual Executive Job Market Intelligence Report to our membership, and this year, amidst all the challenges, there were quite a few success stories. In the last decade alone, we've experienced recession, recovery, high demand for executive talent, recession again, and now, the slow climb back up. But where past recoveries have been more robust, this rebound has the spring of an underinflated basketball and not the high-bouncing SuperBall we'd like.

What became apparent in our research and the experiences of our members throughout the last year is that job search and career advancement require a much more specialized strategy than ever, with an amalgam of skills that reach well beyond functional expertise. To succeed as an executive today, you need to:

- Collect data like a market researcher

- Investigate like a private eye

- Talk to others like a journalist

- Evaluate like a business development professional

- Target like a salesperson

- Think like a marketer

- Interview like a consultant

- Operate like a profit center

- Help people like a humanitarian

It might sound impossible, particularly if you've been off the market for a while, but there is one element at the nucleus, and it's the thing that has remained constant in our research as a means to long-term career growth: your network — because that's where you can find the market researchers, journalists, consultants, sales, marketing and biz dev pros who can help you.

Robyn Greenspan
295 Westport Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851

Do the services or products you provide to your job-hunting members support any of the above? Would they appreciate them?

Something to think about.

Thanks Robyn.

Monday, April 26, 2010

"The My Starbucks reward program has been an overwhelming success"

Membership has long been a viable marketing and revenue channel for corporations looking to tap into people's need to be part of something bigger - I call it the "joiner gene." In the Starbucks Corporation F2Q10 (Qtr End 03/28/10) Earnings Call Transcript as cited by, Howard Schultz, Chairman of the Board, President & Chief Executive Officer of Starbucks had this to say about the My Starbucks reward program:

"...My Starbucks reward program has been an overwhelming success, driving unprecedented levels of customer engagement and loyalty as noted by both store visit frequency and cash loaded.

In fact, the rewards program is cited by core customers as the number one reason for increased visits versus six months ago. Since relaunching the program in December, registered card users have shown a significant increase in frequency with continued steady ticket performance. Card reloads were up nearly 45% this quarter versus Q2 ’09 driven largely by reloads on the new gold level card and since the program launched in December we’ve added over one million new accounts.

In addition, more than 200,000 customers have earned their way to gold level by visiting Starbucks 30 times in just eight weeks illustrating the tremendous traffic driving power of the card and the ongoing loyalty of our customers. Early this month we expanded our Starbucks card mobile payment, a test to 1,000 of our licensed locations in Target stores nationwide allowing card members to load their cards and pay for their Starbucks purchases using their iPhones. Stay tuned for further announcements of important consumer facing initiatives that will enable us to leverage mobile payment and other technologies that are ready made for the Starbucks brand in the months ahead."

Here is the link to read the entire transcript: Starbucks Corporation F2Q10 (Qtr End 03/28/10) Earnings Call Transcript -- Seeking Alpha

The success of this initiative is obviously based upon:
- a well thought out strategy
- a strong communication plan
- a very strong brand
- strong messaging
- and most important, buy in by all levels to the successful execution
of the program

I bring out the last point only because in many instances, this is where we fall apart. We forget that every time a member contacts us, we need to stay on message and deliver it in a way that our members will want to stay with us. I know that you know this...and I am very aware of how difficult it is to keep your team motivated and your superiors interested. But if you can do this, then your renewal rates will increase and your product sales will increase...and ultimately your job will get easier.

Now, is this a straight ahead "membership?" Well, people are 'joining' (albeit for free) a program where they are expecting specfic benefits. So, in my book, this looks a lot like a membership.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Great Idea to Increase Engagement and Launch a Mobile Txt Initiative

I went to the ASAE Idea Swap in Columbia, MD, today. It was on the use of smart phones as a marketing channel and here is a very smart idea...

Amadie Hart of Beaconfire Consulting officiated the session and made what I think to be a very good suggestion.

Make your Membership List accessible to your member's smart phones. This can be done through either an app or a specially designed site (Not a big deal, really. It was suggested that you could use free software like Mobify or Mofuse to help you with this. There are more, simply Google "Mobile website design" and many more will pop up).

What a great way to demonstrate 'networking' and deliver a real value to your membership. It also allows you to explore (research) the value of that channel to your membership and help you decide how much you really want to put into developing it.

Ultimately, we all agreed that this is simply another channel like direct mail, email, publications, etc. through which we can communicate with our members, prospects and customers. What's important is understanding the kind of information that is most appropriate for this channel. date the mobile channel has really been most successfully used for those messages that are 'important' to the member and require an immediate response (ie: voting for the next American Idol; donating to the American Red Cross for Haiti relief; etc.).

I suggested that, when developing your communication strategy, that you identify information in a sliding scale of importance to your market (1 = not immediately important; 5 = must know it now!!!!!) and determine what channels you'll use to deliver the information by that level. So, an announcement about a new product line extension may be delivered via the Website and your monthly publication while a vote on a new regulation that will impact your business today may be delivered via mobile.

The best suggestion, as always, is to ask your members how they want you to communicate with them...then do it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Taxes: I Just Renewed My Membership with the United States of America

It's April 16 and I paid my renewal in the United States (Association) yesterday. Its a sliding scale dues rate based upon net earnings. I got about $5.00 back so that most likely says alot about my income group.


I was musing on association models the other day and thought about how similar our citizenship is to a very complex association. As long as I pay my dues (taxes), I can enjoy the benefits of membership: free speech, persuit of happiness, the right to move around this great country unencumbered by police (for the most part), an educational system for my son, the right to work where I can earn the most (or at least try to work there), and so on. If any of you have traveled, you personally know how great this country is. And, if I decide not to abide by the rules that govern this association, I will be banned from using these benefits.

So, are there any lessons here for us as association professionals? The biggest one to me is clearly stating the benefits of membership and keep reminding our members of how great it is to be associated with such a great organization. Provide messaging for every opportunity to promote your membership (ie: National Anthem sung before every sporting event; nightly news promoting the work of leaders, openly celebrate your national and regional heros and those who have sacrificed for your cause, etc.).

Taking an aggressive messaging stand like this opens you up to also taking some shots, but in the end honesty and transparency is rewarded (ie: Bill Clinton comes to mind). But isn't this the kind of 'engagement' we all want from our membership? Honesty. Open debate on important topics so that the best idea for the majority of people can be implemented.

What is a great association? Well, my thought is one  that openly confronts major issues, supports debate and provides those who want to particpate, the opportunity to participate.

Needless to say, I think this is a great country to be associated with and I would not change my membership for the world.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cut the Clutter on Your Website or You May Not Be Found

Google has announced that 'site speed' is a new search criteria. Given this new development, you would be well advised to review how 'cluttered' your site is and begin looking at how you can achieve your marketing goals using fewer files or simply trimming the load speed of your site.

The following is directly taken from a google posting at

"Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we've seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don't just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs. Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that's why we've decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings. We use a variety of sources to determine the speed of a site relative to other sites.

If you are a site owner, webmaster or a web author, here are some free tools that you can use to evaluate the speed of your site:

Page Speed, an open source Firefox/Firebug add-on that evaluates the performance of web pages and gives suggestions for improvement.

YSlow, a free tool from Yahoo! that suggests ways to improve website speed.

WebPagetest shows a waterfall view of your pages' load performance plus an optimization checklist.

In Webmaster Tools, Labs > Site Performance shows the speed of your website as experienced by users around the world as in the chart below. We've also blogged about site performance.

While site speed is a new signal, it doesn't carry as much weight as the relevance of a page. Currently, fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal in our implementation and the signal for site speed only applies for visitors searching in English on at this point. We launched this change a few weeks back after rigorous testing. If you haven't seen much change to your site rankings, then this site speed change possibly did not impact your site.

We encourage you to start looking at your site's speed (the tools above provide a great starting point) — not only to improve your ranking in search engines, but also to improve everyone's experience on the Internet."

Posted by Amit Singhal, Google Fellow and Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer, Google Search Quality Team

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Would you be happy with a 500% return on your member acquisition? Is your membership acquisition program too successful?

I visited a client this week and told him that "I have good news and bad news."

Good news first! I showed him a summary of the eight new member acquisition campaigns that we've run for him during the past 19 months. The results have been great. For every $1.00 he spent with MGI we returned $5.38 in membership dues.

A 1:5 ratio. An impressive metric. This was accomplished with new offers, a new package and using internal lists (expired members, product buyers) and a few external lists.

But its too much good.

Now the Bad News...I told my client that the return prompted me to make two recommendations: 1) we need to be more aggressive in our list and channel testing. While I do believe that my team - shout out to Toya - and MGI do a great job (hopefully many of you feel the same way), every campaign can't be a winner. Let's be realistic. We're ecstatic with a ratio of 1:1. The typical metric for retail is 1:3 or 1:4. I told him that we need to be increasing the size of our campaigns using more outside lists.

He got it right away! Even though we're just now beginning to dig our way out of a recession, he understood that he needs to invest more in exploring new opportunities.

The second recommendation was to review his renewal program. While the lists of product buyers ranks as the #1 response list for these campaigns, the #2 has been non-renewed members. If we take a Systems Approach to membership acquisition as outlined by the Membership Lifecycle, we realize that the success of our reinstate program is inversely dependent upon the success of the renewal and engagement programs. Given that the reinstate is so successful strongly indicates that not enough is being done to renew these expired members and possibly not enough has been done to get them engaged after they joined.

He understood.

We're now working to increase the number of lists and channels that we test and we'll be reviewing the renewal and engagement programs as we move forward.

But what about your reinstate and acquisition programs? Are they too successful? What return should you reasonably expect? These are important questions to answer.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

14 Tips to Use Google Effectively

Like you I try to read and attempt to keep up with "the information overload" of our profession. To do this, I love "Tip Lists." Short...concise...easy to read...all GOOD for a guy like me. So here is one I just found from a post entitled "How to Use Google Effectively - 14 Tips to Save You Time."

The title says it all..."14 Tips to Save You Time."

It was put together by Donal Daly on Sales 2.0 Network. I hope you can use it:

  1. Use quotation marks for exact phrases. Searching for “The TAS Group”, with the quotation marks, is much more efficient that just searching for The TAS Group, and return far fewer spurious results.
  2. Use ‘OR’ to include more than one search item: Searching for ipod OR mp3 player gives results that contain either ipod or mp3 player.
  3. Placing a ‘-’ in front of a term excludes that word. TAS -Group will give answers that include TAS, but notGroup, so none of the results will have the word Group in them.
  4. Use ‘~’ for synonyms. Searching for ~sales gives you results that contain sales alongside store, retail, etc.
  5. Find items related to a URL: Search related:, and your results will include information on The TAS GroupSales 2.0 Network and other related items.
  6. Search for sites that link to one another. If you search link:, you will find a list of all the sites that link to this blog. (There are quiet a few!)
  7. Look inside a site. Searching for trust will find every reference to trust, or links on other sites that connect to a page on that contains the word trust.
  8. Put … between numbers searches for numbers in that range. Searching for ROI 10…30 will generates a list of results that contain ROI and numbers in the range between 10 and 30.
  9. Not case sensitive: Google search is not case sensitive, so searching on tas returns the sames results asTAS.
  10. Get definitions: Using define: sale, will give you definitions of sale from many sources.
  11. Get time or weather: Using time: Dublin, Ireland or weather: Seattle, WA, will quickly figure out time zones, and tell you what time it is now in Dublin, Ireland (alway happy time) or the weather in Seattle, WA (always wet).
  12. Get exchange rates: 150 euros to dollars will (today) return 205.15 U.S. dollars
  13. Quick URL info: You can get info on, by searching on info:  It will include a short description, links to its cache, similar pages, and sites that link to that URL.
  14. Use Google as a calculator: You can use Google to evaluate many math expressions. Search for365*24*60*60 and will Google tell you the number of seconds in a day (31536000).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Update to Say Nothing post...

In my earlier post "Say Nothing May be More Improtant" I want to update the response rate. It was 20...NOW IT'S 30. Still one sale, but my client has had the chance to have 30 conversations and personally pitch membership 30 times as a result of an email that HAD NO TEXT. These people called him!

Very cool.

ASAE GreatIdeas! Conference

I want to thank everyone who attended my session at the Great Ideas! conference. We had over 60 people attend the session and some great conversations. I hope everyone who did attend walked away with at least one "Greate Idea."

For those of you who could not make it, please let me know and I'll be happy to forward to you not only my session the The Membership Lifecycle, but also Jeremy Griffen's session on "Testing Strategies for Membership Acquisition."