Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Study Illuminates Design Ideas for Facebook

New information on how Facebook pages are read was offered today in an article by Sarah Kessler of Mashable.
In a study that tracked eye-movement over the page, the #1 item that got the most attention was "title." Yep, your position in the company where you work.

The other top areas were your profile picture, who you know (your "friends"), and basically the content at the top of your page.

As we progress to better understanding how to use social media in the development and management of our membership marketing programs, these tid-bits help us to best leverage these channels to maximize the impact of our messaging.

I'd be most interested in hearing from any of you as to how you're using FB, LinkedIn or any other social media platform and if you've tested design.

Experts in Membership Marketing is written by Erik Schonher of Marketing General Incorporated.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Smart Phones are becoming a Smart Move for Associations

I just finished reading "Retailers Adapt as Mobile Holiday Shopping Booms" in the Sunday Washington Post online.

As per the article, "Best Buy has 63 so-called connected stores in which employees have been given mobile devices and are encouraged to use their own smart phones to help shoppers research products and check inventory.

"Employees are empowered to make the decision to match a competitor price on the spot," a spokeswoman for Best Buy added."

After such a long time since my last post, why am I leading with this? Good question. Because...

Aside from the fact that associations should be utilizing smart phones when managing the day-to-day chaos of an Annual Show, think about how Smart Phones can be used to drive revenue at that same show by:
  • Allowing sponsors to buy links as their booth shows up on the map or sessions are offered by their representatives
  • Providing links to association products that align with specfic sessions and/or booths
  • Increasing attendee (and maybe non-attendee) engagement through Twitter, FB and Linked In at the show as attendees comment on booths, sessions and maybe ("good grief, can you believe she wore flats with that?"). Maybe even have an awards program with votes for the best booths, or even the King and Queen of the Show? Yet another sponsorship idea. Cha-Ching!

This simply goes to enforce what I've been telling all my clients and anyone who will listen...The AUVP (Association's Unique Value Proposition) is that of Information Concierge for their members, prospects and stakeholders. We don't need to be the first to offer information, we need to be THE FIRST TO OFFER CONTEXTED INFORMATION so it is relevant to the member and they can use it!

If you agree or disagree, let me know! Look forward to reading your comments.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Donna Tschiffely, ED for DMAW, Warns of 2012 Postal Increase

I just received an email from Donna Tschiffely, DMAW Executive Director, in regard to proposed postage increases. Here is what she wrote:

"You may want to start re-examining your 2012 postage budgets...

This past Tuesday, the USPS filed a notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) details of its plan to increase postage rates by an average of 2.133 percent on each of the market dominant classes, including First Class, Standard and Periodicals.  If approved, implementation will begin January 22, 2012.

Increases will include:
  • First Class Full Rate will increase by 1 penny to 45 cents (2.468% increase) 
  • Non-Profit Letter will see a 1.867% increase 
  • Postcards - 3 cent increase to 32 cents 
  • Average increase for other Standard Mail Products will be 2.864%  
  • Average increase for catalogs and other flat-shaped mail is 2.209% 
The PRC has 45 days to review the proposed increases to ensure they comply with the legal requirement that the increases for each class of mail averages no more than 2.1% as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

DMAW's phone number is 703-689-DMAW (3629) if you have any questions. There website is

Erik D. Schonher is Vice President of Member Strategic Planning for Marketing General Incorporated, a leading marketing agency providing strategic and tactical services to associations and not-for-profit organizations.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Industry Service Announcement: DMAW Session on QR Codes



QR Codes: Unlocking the Power of Print

12 noon - 2:00 pm
SEIU Conference Center
1800 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC

Limited to 45 people
$45 - Members
$60 - Not-yet-Members

QR codes - those black and white Rorschach-test-like squares are popping up everywhere. From retail store windows to magazine ads and now even direct mail, we are seeing them more and more. What exactly do they do, and more importantly, are they effective?

QR Codes, which stands for Quick Response, are 2D barcodes which can be scanned using smartphone reader apps and then the mobile browser directs the consumer to a link site. Ultimately, the code can help drive your donors, members and customers to take a number of different actions to support your direct marketing goals.

Want to find out what they can do for your direct marketing program?

Register for the DMAW October Luncheon: QR Codes: Unlocking the Power of Print

You will learn how QR Codes:
• Allow for ways to embed content, drive calls to action, and unlock the power of the printed page
• Can be tracked
• Are created for better readability
• Are scalable - from simple static codes that can be generated in moments for little to no cost to Sophisticated 1-to-1 codes that unlock the power of data and personalization.

You'll also learn some mobile marketing trends, adoption rates and best practices, as well as review some examples of brands that are using QR codes in both fundamental and innovative ways.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SEM, SEO & PPC: Key Terms in Making Your Website Effective

Digital or "E" Marketing has fast become a cornerstone of our communications platform. From awareness building programs that include lead generation, to acquisition programs using lead conversion tactics and followup emails, to engagement programs that are geared to increase member participation on blogs, downloads and education sessions, to renewal programs, digital marketing is here to stay!

Much of the success of Digital Marketing is maximizing the searchability of your website. In a conversation I had with Todd Michaels, Director of E-Biz at MGI, he provided what I thought to be a clean and clear overview of SEM which I thought you would like to review.

Todd told me that Search Engine Marketing (SEM) encompasses all aspects of making your website visible to the major search engines. The most common SEM tactics includes Search Engine Optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC) Advertising and Paid Inclusion/Placement (PIP). SEM can be considered to be those tactics employed off of your website to better improve its overall rankings with the major search engines.

PPC Advertising, when run effectively, is an excellent tool to drive traffic to your website and also help improve your bottom line SEO effectiveness, when run in conjunction with each other. They can be effectively used for the purpose of generating leads for membership acquisition campaigns, to generate conference awareness, webinar promotion and also magazine subscription trials for our association clients. It is important to note that any PPC approach be grounded in sound direct marketing testing principles, campaign measurement and analytics and solid PPC account structure.

Paid Inclusion/Placement can be both a solid SEM and SEO tactic. For PIP campaigns, we research those websites within our clients niches, finds those with both the strongest links and overall SEO health, but also those websites highly trafficked by visitors to the websites of our clients. Implementation of a successful PIP campaign gives a quick boost to overall SEO and also allows for deep-linking into the websites of our clients. PIP can also include paid and free listings with all search engines, big and small.

Have you optimized the searchability of your website? Are you using PPC to generate traffic for your programs? Are you using PIP campaigns to stimulate web awareness? Let us know how you are using these tools.
Experts in Membership Marketing is written by Erik Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated and can be reached by phone at (703) 706-0358 or email

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Good News! Membership is Rebounding as reported by the 2011 Membership Benchmarking Report.

As reported by the 2011 Membership Benchmarking Report, released last week, over 600 membership marketing professionals and Executive Directors surveyed indicated that all three of the primary metrics that measure the 'vital signs' of association membership marketing are back to, or exceeding, 2009 levels.

Overall Membership...UP!

Overall New Member Acquisition...UP!

Overall Renewals...UP!

ALL UP over 2010.

So what does this mean to you? Strategically, a couple of things...

First, since these metrics are cumulative, meaning trends in new member acquisition and renewals determine the overall membership trend, they can give you a quick diagnostic of what is working for your association. 

Second, as indicated in the report, our industry is reporting a positive trend in each of these metrics. Comparing your own metrics to these 'industry benchmarks,' can help you possibly determine if your supporting your member acquisition &/or renewal programs properly.  

As a possible example, if you found your overall membership is unchanged, your renewals are up but your new member acquisition is down, and your goal is to grow your overall membership, you may want to consider reallocating some staff time &/or money from renewals to new member acquisition.   

Another example might be if you find that your overall membership is down, member acquisition is flat and renewals are down,  then your association is going against the overall industry trend and you may want to consider revamping your overall approach.

As many of you are preparing for 2012, knowing what to look at, with knowledge and understanding of the basic trends in an industry, can help you quickly identify the effectiveness of your programs and their impact on your overall membership efforts. These 'strategic tricks' are invaluable to your success and the success of your association.

Experts in Membership Marketing is written by Erik Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated, and can be reached by phone at (703) 706-0358 and email at

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What information should I be collecting for my membership marketing program?

I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to speak and lecture quite a bit around the country on membership marketing. One question that I get more than any others is "What Information should my association collect for membership marketing?" 

First step, start by looking at your members.  Simply put, new members will "look" like current members.
Next, to build a profile of your existing members, you must have more than just the basic contact information for each member.However a word of caution…before you tie up resources and start any initiative to collect information, you need to figure out what you’ll do with the information. You must ask “How will this information help us with our Mission?”
Members are essential to the completion of every association's Mission. 
Therefore, as every association needs members, they must figure out how to attract new members and retain current members. This database needs to provide information that you can use to understand what your members want, how they want to communicate, what they respond to, and a host of other metrics that will help you develop and refine your member acquisition, engagement and retention programs.
Since associations come in many forms, trade, individual, some mix of both, lets take a 5,000-foot-view of what “types” of information you might want to collect:
- Information that can be used to find lists of non-member association prospects.
- Information that will provide insight into why your members joined the association.
- Information that will help you understand why members renew.
With this context set, in addition to basic contact information, here are some suggestions of specific information you will find useful in developing and refining your membership marketing plans:
·      Join date (and a separate rejoin date in case they expire but rejoin a year or two later)
·      Source (where they came from)
·      Number of years in the industry
·      Title/responsibility
·      Offer (what membership offer/message did they respond to)
·      Expectations (reason for joining)
·      Product purchase history
·      Engagement activity (committee participation, comments on Listservs, conferences/webinares attended, etc.)
There are obviously more, and to some point, they are dependent upon each association. However, if you collecting even 3 or 4 of the above, you’re doing better than many of your peers.
Your association's database may not have everything you need to effectively market to non-members, but that doesn't mean you can't ask for it. With the right information in hand, your membership marketing can be much more effective. Just be certain that you don't waste your association's resources or your members' time by asking for information that isn't truly useful.
Let me know what information that you’re collecting and how you’re using it.

Experts in Membership Marketing is written by Erik Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated. If you have any questions concerning the content, Erik can be reached by phone at (703) 706-0358 or email at

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's about Member Indispensability

Dr. Adina Wasserman is a first-class researcher whom I'm very pleased to have worked with on a number of research projects. Her experience is second to none and her ability to take a piece of data and transform it into a usable piece of information is to be applauded.

In my own work, and during our conversations, Dr. Wasserman points out that member satisfaction levels, while providing a good benchmark for comparative evaluations over time, are not the best indicators of member engagement with the association. While satisfaction is certainly a part of member engagement and loyalty, we do not believe it is the driver.

I've seen this in many studies where current members and expired members both rated their experience with their association as being "satisfactory."

She recommends associations shift to an Indispensability and Needs Assessment study, which allows association members to assess the importance of the benefits and services offered, and then evaluate the quality of delivery of those benefits and services. This is called Gap Analysis, or the statistical comparison between the degree of importance and the perceived level of delivery. This research offers evidenced-based data pinpointing where an association is performing well and where it is not, and whether attention and resources should be focused to maximize programs or abandon them. We have both found, in our work together and seperately, that this methodology gives the most effective understanding of what the membership wants and expects from its association.

If you're thinking of performing a membership study, remember that its the member's loyalty to and dependence on the association that determines your renewals and ultimately your financial position.
Experts in Membership Marketing is written by Erik Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated. If you have any questions concerning the content please feel free to call him at (703) 706-0358 or email him at 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How Often Do You Increase Your Membership Dues? - Results from the 2011 Membership Benchmarking Report

Recently I've been asked by several Executive Directors and Membership Marketers how often they should raise their dues?

This is obviously an important question and one that is unique to each association given its market, its penetration within the market, number of competitors, current dues rate and when the last dues increase was performed.

However, its been our experience that a small (10% or under) increase will, in most cases, have little to no impact on your membership numbers.

Respondents to the 2011 Membership Benchmarking Report seemed to fall in line with this as well.  When asked:

  • "How often does your association raise membership dues?"
  • "When was the last time your association raised membership dues?"
  • "What was the average percentage of your last membership dues increase across all membership catagories?"

We found that "...30% of the associations reported that they will raise membership dues in 2011 and 71% will increase dues rates between 1% and 10%."

"How often does your association raise membership dues?"

17% responded "Annually"
4% responded "Every other year"
58% responded "As needed"
9% responded "Never"
12% responded "Other"

Monday, September 12, 2011

FREE Download of the 2011 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report Now Available

Finally Here!!

I'm happy to announce the release of the 2011 Membership Marketing Benchmarking ReportA free download of the full report is available, with site registration, using this link. 

This marks the third year that Marketing General Incorporated (MGI) has surveyed associations to better understand the strategies and tactics used to recruit members, engage new members, renew existing members, and reinstate former members.

Each year new aspects related to membership marketing our explored in our research.  This year the report features new data on the practices in increasing membership dues, engaging members with products and services, membership chapters, and the key impediments that hold back membership growth.

However, beyond cataloging membership practices, the Benchmarking Report also takes these practices and cross-tabulates them with the membership results associations are experiencing.  The comparison of practices and outcomes in membership provides strong directional information on what tactics and strategies might be added or dropped to help improve an organization’s membership program.

I hope that you find the 2011 Report of help as you seek to maximize the membership results for your organization.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Adding a Membership Catagory? A Suggested Approach Driven by Data!

This week we’re fortunate to hear from my friend, Kristi L. Van Buren, Manager Member Services for the Community Associations Institute.

Kristi is a big believer in data-based decision making. This is to be expected given that she earned a master’s degree in public policy from George Mason University, and has a been working with non-profit organizations and trade associations for over 10 years with five years specifically in membership marketing, and . And if that wasn’t enough, she was recently awarded a scholarship from the ASAE Foundation towards obtaining a CAE certification.

In today’s post, she talks about the process her association is going through to create a new membership category and presents how her team is approaching it.

“How do we quantify items that seemingly cannot be measured? How can we produce useful generalizations regarding diverse member populations? Economists are trained to forecast results by collecting, researching, and analyzing data using various sampling techniques and mathematical models analyzing and quantifying human behavior to make predictions about future behavior.

Isn’t this what we as association professionals try to do every day? Are we using data effectively to help us guide our organizations? While experiential and anecdotal information has a part in creating the policies that guide an association, it cannot be the sole factor supporting the decision-making process.

Have you ever known a program or product to be created from one vocal member’s suggestion? Despite the fact that an organization is equipped with a tremendous amount of information within their AMS, sometimes the focus on member service supersedes actual data when creating programs and services. With member service on the forefront, we reactively aim to please but should not let this drive our decisions when empirical data indicates an alternate path towards reaching organizational goals. Coca-Cola, Apple, or Sony would never launch a product without extensive market research, and as non-profit professionals we should similarly utilize many of the techniques that generate success for our for-profit friends.

Currently, my organization is in the process of creating a new membership category. Our team expects great success and we are very excited about this initiative which makes it easy to get caught up in “what could be.” Our optimism and excitement reinforces the need to realistically research and address all variables so we do not overlook any potential challenges.

In order to maximize positive outcomes for our membership and the association, we have:

1. Created and interviewed a focus group: What do they want? What have we overlooked?

2. Completed an environmental scan to determine our potential universe of new members: Are there enough prospective members to justify the program?

3. Conducted research on cost and offerings of similar and different associations and interviewed some of their staff: How can we build from their success and not reinvent the wheel? Who of our “competitors” has already implemented this category?

4. Completed a cost-benefit analysis to justify the resources: What is the actual cost?

5. Projected results: How do we measure and identify success?

6. Planned to pilot this program: What will this tell us? Who will participate? Can we make changes based on findings prior to a broader launch?

By asking these questions and answering them with empirical data, we have the best opportunity to mitigate risk. While this process has required an investment of effort and time, data-driven program development will allow us to provide better benefits to our members, rather than attempting to respond to anecdotal or “knee-jerk” changes in our membership’s requirements.

How would your next program be different if all related decisions were data-driven? I challenge you to consider the following before your next product launch or marketing campaign:

1. Use your current data and collect more data.

2. Ask a lot of questions and find data to support the answers.

3. Explore possible scenarios that oppose your instinct to best prepare for potential issues.

Especially in this economy, we have to be smarter than ever. Being an expert does not necessarily mean that you know all of the answers; it means you know how to pursue and rely on empirical data to make the most informed decisions.”

Has your organization added, or even consolidated, a membership category? Perhaps your experience offers another perspective? Please give us your comments.

Experts in Membership Marketing is published by Erik Schonher, Vice President for Marketing General Incorporated. He can be reached by email at or by phone at (703) 706-0358.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The 2011 Membership Benchmarking Report is finished!

I wanted to let you all know that I've just reviewed the final PDF of the 2011report and it is being sent to the printer. We should be sending them out in the next week or so.

If you've requested a copy, we'll work to get your copy to you as soon as possible.

If you have yet to request a copy, please forward your name, association and email address. I'll make sure that you receive a copy.

Have a wonderful Labor Day everyone!!

Experts in Membership Marketing is written by Erik Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated. If you ever have any questions regarding the content of this blog, please feel free to contact Erik at (703) 706-0358 or via email at 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Linda Chreno reports on ASAE Annual Conference session: What We're Learning from What We're Reading

Linda Chreno is well respected in the association world. With 20+ years of membership marketing and association management experience, and a voracious hunger for new technology and utilizing it to deliver superior association products and member experiences, she delivers a unique perspective of 'early adoptor' and 'experienced professional.' Therefore, I am pleased to call her a friend, compadre...and now CONTRIBUTOR to this blog.

She attended the recent (and very fun) ASAE Annual Conference in St. Louis, MO, where she spoke on web marketing for smaller associations. As we all did, she also attended a great session presented by Mark Anderson, Kristin Clark, Joan Eisenstodt and Jeffrey Cufaude. Here is her take on that important session:

"I attended a session at ASAE in St. Louis entitled: Readers Anonymous: What We're Learning from What We're Reading. The session was where Mark Anderson, FASAE, CAE, Kristin Clark, CAE, Joan Eisenstodt, and Jeffrey Cufaude MAI shared highlights of what they were learning from what they were reading. The session was remarkable and very insightful. Loved when they shared that they are reading many books at one time and they can learn from any book that they read!

As membership marketing professionals, we need to be alert for ideas that we can incorporate into our marketing and/or membership plans – from whatever the source including books that we are reading, Facebook posts, Twitter comments, and our own participation in other organizations.

For instance, in ASAE, diversity is a huge issue and focus point. The DELP program offers a group of diverse individuals the opportunity to deeply delve into the association management community through education, networking, and recognition. Does your association offer a similar program? For Rotary International, there are clubs in areas with a diverse potential membership base. At a recent District Rotary Membership program, attendees were provided with ways to attract and engage members from diverse cultures and then to embrace them within the club. One factor that was extremely insightful for me was that the clubs were not expected to “change” the members but expand the club to include them. This might mean understanding the differences in the cultures – what a great educational opportunity for everyone!

I just started reading CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS: Tools for talking when the stakes are high. "Step out of the content of the conversation" is one of the suggestions - for seeing body language, the location of the conversation, etc. Too often we listen for what we want to hear and then speak on that instead of actually hearing the words and their meaning. Is that what we do with our members?

Another example might be the recent NETFLIX pricing re-structure. Although a for-profit company, their customers are similar to members – paying a fee for a benefit. When Netflix changed the pricing, there was a very vocal response to the change. Can associations learn from this – how should it have been communicated to customers, how should customers reactions been considered, etc. Associations often change a program or a benefit –and they change because of a small number of members’ opinion, a Board decision, or a staff decision – without verifying that the membership or community as a whole wanted the change. And even is the change is required, are members allowed the opportunity to voice their concerns before implementation – or does it happen after the fact?

As association professionals, we need to be alert for new ideas, new concepts, and new opportunities from a variety of sources. Don’t be afraid of considering incorporating something from outside the association world into your association planning – you might be very pleased by the results."

If you attended the session, or attended another session that you feel strongly that others should learn about, please comment or let Linda or Erik know. We'd enjoy hearing your opinion and maybe even giving you the opportunity to post it on this blog.

If you'd like to reach out to Linda, here is her contact information:

Linda Chreno, CAE, IOM
Direct: 510.352.8197 - CA
Direct 703.706.0339 - VA
Twitter: lindachreno

Experts in Membership Marketing is written by Erik D. Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated. You can reach Erik by calling (703) 706-0358,, FB & LinkedIn.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Membership Marketers Must Know The Numbers!

I recently spoke on Membership Engagement at the 2011 ASAE Annual Conference in St. Louis. At the conference I shared the following quote from The Fournaise Marketing Group:

“73% of CEOs think Marketers lack business credibility and are not the business growth generators they should be: they are still too far from being able to demonstrate how the…marketing strategies and campaigns they deploy grow their organizations’ top line in terms of more customer demand, more sales, more prospects, more conversions or more market share.”
- 2011 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program

In short, to effectively communicate our understanding our association's business/marketing needs and make our requests meaningful to them as we build our budgets and programs, we need to use the "language" that our Executive Directors, Presidents and Board Members (who in many cases are CEO's in their respected industries) understand. While at one time, for us in the membership marketing world, that language included ROI, Response Rate, Renewal Rates, Membership Tenure, Lifetime Value, Membership Stassis and Maximum Acquisition Cost, it now also includes open rates, clickthrough rates, lead conversion, number of impressions, page views, purchase history, channel management and more.
Additionally, these numbers make it easier for us to make the decisions we need to improve our strategies and ultimately our business. Data driven decision making must be measured and evaluated in as objective way as possible. Identifying meaningful data patterns and creating custom scoring models provides the business intelligence by which our industry has always been defined.

If you have any questions on what to look at for your association, or how to calculate it, please let me know. If you'd like a FREE Membership Dashboard, I have one that we've developed for our clients and I'd be happy to send it to you.
If you have an instance when you used data to drive your business decision making, please share it with everyone on this blog.
Experts in Membership Marketing is published by Erik Schonher, Vice President of Marketing General Incorporated.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

6 Tips to Make Membership Research Work.

Dr. Adina Wasserman, Director of Research for Marketing General Incorporated, is a very talented and experienced researcher whom many associations owe for their success. She is also the talent behind MGI's Membership Benchmarking Survey, an annual study conducted by MGI of what is working and not working in association marketing and membership development. The results of the 2011 MGI Membership Benchmarking Survey will be released at the end of this month. Let me know if you'd like a FREE COPY and I'll be sure to send it to you. For those of you attending ASAE later this week, an Executive Summary will be available at the MGI Booth or email/call me and I'll be sure to email it to you. 

Dr. Wasserman just sent me a few insights for associations who are considering conducting research and I wanted to share them with you. If you would like to discuss these ideas with Dr. Wasserman, you can reach her at (703) 706-0373 or

1. Use your budget wisely. Research is often the first thing to get eliminated in a downturned economy. This is the wrong direction to take. Research is important in a good economy, but it is imperative in a slow one. Maintaining or increasing market share, renewing members, and slowing attrition, becomes more difficult when the economy is slow, making it that much more important to understand your members’ needs. The association which can successfully meet their members needs and provide professional assistance in a challenging economy will be better able to stave off the effects of an ill economy.

2. Negative is sometimes positive. Don’t be afraid to hear the “negative” feedback from your members. How can you fix a problem if you don’t know it exists? Having your head in the sand will not make the problems go away. Welcome any negative feedback as an opportunity for guided improvement. Have your members lead you directly to your problem areas. X marks the spot, right?

3. The Board can be blind. We often hear that the BOD knows their membership well, and knows what their members want. This may be true, but there are often gems of information that the BOD is unaware of that can only be elicited from member feedback. While it is certainly useful to gather Board members’ perceptions of what their members want, do not use this information to the exclusion of member feedback, as there are often times when the BOD is out of touch with what the members really want.

4. Don’t under-survey. When conducting an objectives meeting with a client, we often hear that they have never surveyed their membership, or that their last survey was four years ago. It is impossible to stay tuned to your members’ needs if you don’t ask what they want. We recommend at least a yearly membership survey to understand member needs and challenges. Furthermore, a yearly (or at the very least, bi-annual) survey allows an association to also see if priorities and needs have shifted among members or member groups within the association. Being able to react to shifts in an appropriate timeframe lets the members know you are listening.

5. Don’t over-survey. On the flip side, some associations are almost “too in-touch” with their members. Survey fatigue can be a problem when members are inundated every month or every other month with surveys, resulting in reduced response rates and member irritation. This often happens in associations where many different departments work independently of one another and do not share their survey schedules. One way to combat this is to have departments make their survey efforts known to all the other departments so everyone is aware of who is doing what research and when. Another suggestion is to randomly survey different blocks of members so that every member doesn’t receive every survey.

6. Timely incentives are key. If you are offering an incentive for participation in ANY research, make sure that the incentives are sent in a VERY timely manner. For drawings, congratulate winners on your website to let members know that the incentive drawing has been completed. Late incentives can cause resentment and irritation among participants.

Experts in Membership Marketing is written by Erik D Schonher, Vice President for Marketing General Incorporated, who can be reached at (703) 706-0358 or at

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Online Video Viewing Continues to SURGE!

As cited in a BtoB ( July 27 article, according to Magda Media Futures, "Online video viewing continues to grow, with 23% of Americans watching a video online daily, compared with 13% in a similar study conducted a year ago."

They go on to indicate that "...57% watch online video weekly, up from 50% of the population last year. Males ages 18 to 34 watch 7.8 hours of online video weekly, compared with 5.6 hours per week among all viewers."

As more people begin to 'expect' video as part of their lifestyle, are associations prepared for yet another retooling of their channels of communications? 10 years ago websites with 20 pages and flash were new and exciting and listserves were the 'next great thing.' They then could cost $25000 to $50000 to develop, design and implement. Now, they simply are expected.

15 years ago, when I dabbled in music video production, we could put a music video together for $15000 to $50000. Today, those types of videos wouldn't sell much - simply the technology has gotten better and cheaper...and most importantly, PEOPLE EXPECT MORE!!!

Associations went kicking and screaming into the digital world, and really many associations are still combating the transition from an 'analog to digital world.' 

But a digital world it is and that is where our members live.

The point being, lets embrace the video technology and get ahead of this curve. We are the curators of information for our members, so lets provide it through ALL CHANNELS that they deem appropriate.

I'd enjoy your thoughts on this and examples of what your association is doing to use video in their marketing and member engagement programs.

Experts in Membership Marketing is written by Erik D Schonher, Vice President for Marketing General Incorporated. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

The inferred power of Twitter!

I'm in Chicago visiting with clients today and tomorrow. After catching the 7:00 AM flight this morning from BWI and a day full of meetings, I was happy to catch dinner and spend some time with my good friend, Dean West, President of Association Labs and one of his associates.

We finished our dinner and began to consume "adult beverages" as we spoke about the days events and philosphized on the association marketplace.

Our waiter, in a hurry to clean our table, spilled an entire glass of red wine on Dean. Simply knocked it over. Now, the wine was Dean's associates, not Dean's. As the waiter went away and quickly returned with a cup of hot water (and I think lemmon), we kidded him saying that "...everything would be ok as long as Dean gets another drink."

The waiter offered "free dry cleaning" and implyed that he couldn't offer a free drink. In fact, he suggested that he should replace his associate's glass of wine as he was 'the damaged party.' Dean immediately produced his i-phone and told the waiter that he was about to be put on Twitter.

Truth of the matter...he never hit record.

Low and behold, Dean received a drink...but no dry cleaning. Oh well, we considered it a win anyway.

Interesting that the threat of social media was necessary to produce what we all (hopefully) would assume to be a natural customer service response.

So the question is, when your members call about a problem or a concern, is your staff solving their problem or do they wish they could pull out their i-phones?

Let me know what you think of this post. 

Experts in Membership Marketing is produced by Erik D Schonher, Vice President for Marketing General Incorporated.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Keep BUNDLED Memberships from being Bungled Memberships

I just returned from Vancouver where I spoke at the CESSE Annual Conference. What a fantastic conference in a fantastic city.

One of the two sessions I spoke on was "Creating Irresistible Bundling Packages for Ultimate Member/Customer Value." I was fortunate to be speaking with my good friends Richard Fischer, Naylor LLC, and Jim Warren, FMA.

As I lead off the session, my portion was composed of what "bundling" is and recommendations of "do's and don'ts" which I'll now share with you.

What is Bundling?
Bundling refers most commonly to the “inclusion or addition” of other memberships, products or services to the basic membership offer.  It “is” a tried and true way to recruit more members and sell more products

Why Consider its Use?
Allows an association to add “immediate real or perceived value” to the membership offer, helps overcome possible objectives to join – (value add), and helps sell other products or services at the point of the initial membership sale. It also Helps differiate your offer vs. competitors and can be used for market or product expansion.

Items Typically Bundled?
Additional memberships, books or publications, conference ttendance (#1, MGI Benchmark Survey) and just about anything of value can be considered.

If you're unsure as to what items to bundle, a quick look at the results of the soon to be released 2011 Membership Benchmarking Survey indicated that organizations with members in the following activities were more likely to have renewal rates over 80% compared to organizations that did not offer these programs:
  • attendance at annual convention
  • attendance at a professional development meeting
  • attendance at a webinar
  • volunteering
  • participation in the private social network
  • participation in young professionals program
  • purchase of a book or directory, certification, insurance, or other miscellaneous non-dues product or service
Picking the wrong bundle can harm the offer, so before you choose, a good rule of thumb is to:
  • Ask Members or Prospects What They Want
  • Look at Buying Trends, Can 1+1 =3?
  • Know the economics – “don’t give away the store”
  • Understand that "An offer to good to believe” may not be believed
  • and as always...Test, Test, Test

I want to thank Rick Whelan, President of MGI, for his advice and counsel on this information. If you don't know Rick, I suggest you find a few minutes and introduce yourself. He is a great guy to work with and "bat ideas around." Tell him that I sent you.

If your association offers bundled memberships, perhaps you'll describe what they are and your experiences with them?

Experts in Membership Marketing is written by Erik Schonher, Vice President & Strategist for Marketing General Incorporated. He can be reached at (703) 706-0358 or via email at 



Monday, July 18, 2011

Membership Acquisition - Some Practical Advice

If you're interested in some ideas on a variety of tactics to drive your membership at any stage of the Membership Lifecycle, take a look at my most recent article "Member Acquisition - Some Practical Advice" in CalSAE's The Executive

Here's the link:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Early Results from the 2011 Membership Benchmarking Survey: Memberships are on the Rise!!

Results of the 2011 Membership Benchmarking Survey indicate that overall membership growth, the primary indicator of association health, is on the rise in comparison with results from the 2009 and 2010 Membership Benchmarking Surveys.

                                                 2011          2010        2009

Percentage Increased Overall        49%          36%         45%

Percentage Unchanged Overall     16%          14%         16%

Percentage Declined Overall          34%         48%          35%

Not Sure                                      2%            3%             5%

While there are many possible reasons, growth in new member recruitment appears to be the big driver in membership growth.  Of responding association executives, 57% report the acquisition of new members increased over the past year.  These results are significantly better compared to previous years (both 2009 & 2010).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Report of Overall Renewal Rates for Associations

The results of MGI's 2011 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Study will be published next month! In anticipation of this, I wanted to share with you a smattering of the results. As we're all interested in renewal rates and given the last 36 months, I figured you may be interested in how, as an industry, our renewal rates are doing. 
• In the current study, there is an increase in the percentage of associations reporting overall renewal rates of 90% or higher. This percentage shows a substantial rebound from the precipitous drop between the 2009 and 2010 study.

• There is a similar decrease in the percentage of association reporting renewal rates between 80% to 89%, suggesting that some of the associations reporting an 80%-89% renewal rate in the 2010 research, may have been able to increase their renewal rates past 90%.

• There is an increasing trend in the number of associations reporting renewal rates between 70%-79%.

• Small associations with up to 1,000 members are significantly more likely to report renewal rates above 90%, while associations with more than 1,000 paid members are significantly more likely to indicate renewal rates between 70% to 79%.

• Organizational/trade associations are significantly more likely to report renewal rates above 90% compared to individual member associations or those with both types of members (36%: trade vs. 16%: individual; 14%: both).

• Association industries most likely to show renewal rates at 90% or higher include:
  • Finance/Accounting (41%) 
  • Manufacturing (43%) 
  • Education (23%)
• Association industries most likely to show renewal rates between 80% and 89% include:
  • Building/Construction (45%)
  • Scientific/Engineering (44%)
  • Healthcare (37%)
  • Professional Services (31%)
  • Philanthropic (30%)

If you have not already signed up to receive a copy of the results, please email me your request with you name, association and email address and I'll gladly put you on my list.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Observations from THE FRONT LINES - by Caroline Fuchs

There are only a few people around who have the experience and knowledge that I believe can benefit every membership pro - one of those people is Caroline Fuchs.  As she's written for this blog before, I asked her to put together a few thoughts for those of us preparing for 2012 Planning.

Here is what she provided.

Membership Management is Deliberate
The future of twitter is a sexier subject, but many of the conversations I have about membership eventually turn to more mundane but absolutely core topics. I hear about the database that is poorly managed or that research on member needs is outdated or non-existent. And when it comes to recruitment, engagement, and renewals…you mean I need a plan?

Managing the membership process for retention and member growth is a deliberate process. Make sure you have the following items in place:

Annual Membership Marketing Plan—how else will you know what you’re doing each month? A plan means you’ve thought about strategy, tactical implementation, and the necessary resource allocations. Then make it simple and chart out the monthly activities. Work your plan, evaluate the results and adjust accordingly.

Remember to include baseline membership metrics, a scan of the competition, clarity on your prospects (who and where will you find them?), recruitment/engagement/renewal strategies, resources needed, an implementation schedule, and an evaluation plan.

Database Management—do you know your current members? It all comes down to the database. Is it adequately designed? Are you collecting pertinent data? Do you retrieve and analyze that data to support marketing and other decisions? And don’t forget to document your process for data entry, report generation, and database maintenance.

Membership Reports—you’d be surprised how many organizations don’t generate a monthly report. Include overall data on new members, relevant data by membership segment or dues category, and the status of membership activities related to recruitment, engagement, and renewals. These reports tell you what works, what doesn’t, and highlight trends. Build a report and run it regularly.

Member Research—know the level of member satisfaction with the organization and with specific products and services. Then identify future needs and possible trends with a member needs assessment. If you don’t ask, you don’t know. And if you don’t know, you can’t innovate.

Retention Engagement/Renewals/Recruitment—this is not Field of Dreams, you must communicate, communicate, communicate. Have a plan! Ok, I recognize that each area deserves an in-depth discussion, but we’ll save that for another time.

Implementation—this should be in your annual plan. Do you know who does what and when? Line up your resources and share the schedule. Make it happen.

Evaluate—constantly. And use that information to adjust your original plan. Flexibility is key.

Now that you’ve covered these fundamentals, you can relax. Just kidding. Now get to work on your social media and networking plan.

If you want to respond directly to Caroline, here is her email address.

Caroline H. Fuchs, CAE

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Offer from the Post Office: Postal Discount Extended to Non-Profit Mail

te...Important Update...Important Update...Important Update...Important U 

Several weeks back the USPS announced that they were going to have a summer promotion with a 3% postage discount, but it would only include 1st class and Std A class mail. It has now been announced that the promotion will be extended to include non-profit mail as well.

A couple of things to note:

1) The promotion only applies to mail that uses a mailing permit indicia - mail with live stamps does not apply.

2) Must print the indicia onto the envelopes.

3) Many vendors will have indicia’s that you will be able to use as long as you have the appropriate Non-Profit Point of Entry established (does not apply for 1st class or Std A).

4)  Let your vendors know of your desire to take advantage of this promotion when the job is submitted so the proper paperwork can be prepared and submitted electronically.

5) Please see the notes below for additional information and specific requirements.

Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) Approves 3% Mobile Barcode (QR Code) Promotion Postage Discount.

The promotion grants a 3% postage discount for First Class and Standard Mail pieces (including Non-Profit Mail) that bear a barcode readable by a consumer smart phone during July and August 2011. The requirements are less complicated than earlier promotion discounts.

Here are some of the features:

• The test begins July 1 and ends August 31, 2011.

• First Class Mail, Standard Mail, and Non-Profit letters, cards, and flats all qualify.

• The QR code may be printed on the outside of the piece or within the mail piece.

• The discount is up-front...claimed on the mailing statement, not a rebate.

No advance application/approval is required....but test your QR code to be sure it's readable and directed to a mobile optimized website.

• The QR code must be used for marketing purposes reasonably germane to the mail piece.

• Mailings must be entered using permit imprint payment with electronic documentation.

For further information on mobilbarcodes, click on the link below:

2011 USPS Mobile Barcode Promotion Facts

Friday, May 20, 2011

Preliminary Results from the MGI 2011 Membership Benchmarking Survey & a FREE OFFER

As we prepare to publish the MGI 2011 Membership Benchmarking Survey (for introduction at the 2011 ASAE Annual Conference in St. Louis, MO), I wanted to share with you one of the more interesting results:

Associations who reported that they had a membership strategy with a priority on:  
  • New member acquisition had an average total membership growth of 4.2% over the past year.  
  • Retention had an average total membership growth of 1.1% over the past year.  
  • Both acquisition and retention equally had an average total membership growth of 2.4% over the past year.
These results indicate something we all know, if your goal is to grow, you must invest in that growth. Single-mindedness pays off.

As we continue to look at the results of the study, I’ll continue to share excerpts as we discover them. If you did not participate in the study but wish to receive a copy of it when it is published, please let me know and I’ll make sure that one is sent to you after the ASAE Annual Conference.

Have you found the same results with your own program? What have been your experiences? Let me know.



Finally, we'll all soon be embroiled in 2012 Strategic Planning and Budgeting. I'd like to offer you a free 30 Minute Consultation to help you identify your successes and challenges to develop and refine your ideas for next year. If you're interested in taking me up on my offer, please email me ( or call me at (703) 706-0358.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Seth Godin may have a few ideas on "Indispensability."

Recently many of my clients and the people I speak with have been asking about “Indispensability.” What is it? What does it mean? How do we go about becoming “…indispensable to our members?”

I think this is a two-step answer. First, I think that it helps to first realize that our members want to become “indispensable” to their organizations, boss, and clients. So we should ask, “How do they become indispensable to their organizations/boss/clients?”

Starting from this point, Seth Godin’s latest work “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?” (published by Portfolio/Penguin) offers a recommendation of what an individual’s indispensability may look like. He proposes (on page 218) that these seven characteristics are“…one way to think about the list of what makes you indispensable:

1. Providing a unique interface between members of the organization

2. Delivering unique creativity

3. Managing a situation or organization of great complexity

4. Leading customers

5. Inspiring staff

6. Providing deep domain knowledge

7. Possessing a unique talent”

In the workplace, I think we can all appreciate the work the individual must put in to maximize each of these characteristics for themselves. At a certain point, these behaviors elevate the individual’s performance from simply doing a job to an art form – and this is a major thrust of Godin’s book. Those individuals who want to become ‘indispensable’ must become artists who find their inspiration from their own desires to do better.

But isn’t that what members are doing when they join? In most cases, are they not taking a personal step to become more knowledgeable and connected so they can become better?

So, now that we understand at least one definition of “indispensability” (as presented above), when you ask how to make your association “indispensable” to your membership, you need to ask how does your association:

• Go about helping your members achieve each of the seven characteristics?


• Go about executing each of the seven characteristics for their boss…the industry?

If you have any thoughts or questions, I hope you’ll post them. Maybe you can provide examples? I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

WHAT!? Already!? Get ready for Membership Market Planning - 2012

Good grief! It's not even June yet. C'mon...

It's true folks, we are entering the time when most of us are beginning to develop our plans and budgets for 2012. Many times people ask me about developing a strong membership marketing plan so I thought I’d offer a quick and easy system for you to use.

Developing a plan is usually pretty easy if you simply answer the famous “Who, What, Where, When, Why and How?” questions:
  • “Who” is the market? 
    • What are the characteristics of the audience you want to promote to? 
    • Is it simply one market or can the market be further segmented? 
      • Highest vs. lowest return
      • Location/geography
      • Male/female
      • Age
      • Buyers vs. inquiries vs. 'never heard of ya'
      • etc.
    • What are their “needs” or “pains” that are to be addressed 
  • “What” is the product? 
    • Membership? Conference? Catalog? Sponsorship? Etc. 
  • “Where” does the market congregate? 
    • You need to know where to find your market prospects 
      • Catalog
      • Website
      • Association
      • Conference
      • Etc. 
  • “When” is the best time to contact the market? 
    • Is there a “buying cycle?”
    • Has there been an adjustment in the economy of the market that increases a current need or introduces a new need?
  • “Why” do we need to market?
    • In most cases, this is where you define your “criteria for success” as well as your financial justification for the plan:
      • Increase/maintain market share
      • Increase revenue
      • Increase sales
      • Product launch
      • Etc.
    • For many of us in the membership marketing world this is where you'll also need to review your membership benchmarks:
      • Renewal Rate
      • Average Tenure
      • Lifetime Value (LTV)
      • Maximum Acquisition Cost (MAC)
      • Steady State Analysis
  • “How” are we going to market?
    • What channels historically offer us the best ROI and what channels should we test?
      • Direct mail
      • Email
      • Web
      • Telemarketing
      • Personal sales
These are the building blocks that will help you build your plan. Don’t forget the importance of ‘tracking’ your campaigns so you can continually enhance your programs based upon quantitative results.

Of course, always build consensus among everyone who will have impact upon your plan.

What are the elements you look at? Do you have a plan that you'd like to share? Let us know.

Good luck!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Did you catch Kiki's interview with Eric Lanke?

If not, take a look:

Erik Schonher is vice president and strategist for Marketing General Incorporated, the country's leading association and membership marketing firm.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Guest blogger Caroline H. Fuchs gives some good advice

I'm fortunate to know many very smart and very talented people. Two such people, Caroline Fuchs and Andrew Goldschmidt, presented at the ASAE Marketing and Membership Conference last week. There session was so good that I asked Caroline if she'd be kind enough to write a brief summary of that session for us. 

As a quick primer, Caroline H. Fuchs is an experienced association marketing and membership professional who had successfully led staff teams at both professional societies and trade associations. As a marketing strategist, she helps organizations identify connections and uncover inventive and practical solutions in the areas of membership marketing, brand rejuvenation, communication enhancement, and product and service innovation. She can be reached at

Membership on Caffeine
How do you show your passion for membership issues? You crowd into a chilly conference room at 7:00 in the morning to share experiences and ideas. That’s how more than 50 attendees of the ASAE 2011 MM&C Conference demonstrated their dedication—grabbing cups of coffee and participating in last Tuesday’s 7:00 a.m. Early Riser session titled “Under the Membership Tent.”

I was delighted to co-facilitate the group discussion with my colleague Andrew S. Goldschmidt, CAE, MBA, director of membership marketing at NACo-National Association of Counties. The session’s conversation covered a variety of topics, but there was not doubt that economy had taken its toll when renewals were voted as the first topic of the morning. 

Here are a few of the conversations that stood out:
Renewals of 1st Year members continue to be a challenge. Whether they initially joined through a conference or for certification, failure to convert into long-term members remains frustrating for membership professionals. Strategies combating the attrition rate included researching the needs of at-risk audiences, developing unique onboarding programs, and tracking participation and member ROI. Check out the dashboard report

Andrew Goldschmidt shared with attendees and the white paper I authored for SmithBucklin Corporation on Membership Management Standard Practices.

Retaining student members remains difficult. Several attendees mentioned the success they’ve had with mentoring programs. One program model matched mentors and mentees at the annual conference and found the affinity and goodwill fostered worth the effort of a rather labor-intensive program.

Bringing non-renewing or lapsed members back into membership reaps rewards. According to the 2010 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report recently released by Marketing General, associations with renewal rates of 80% or above are extremely likely to continue to indefinitely contact lapsed members for membership reinstatement. Murmurs of interest around the room made it clear that this strategy would get renewed emphasis at a number of organizations. (The 2011 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report will be published in August this year. If you'd like a pre-pub copy, please let Erik know)

Member Get a Member campaigns remain viable. Jim Kokkines, membership manager, Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) commented on the success they’ve found with the HFMA Member Get a Member program.  

The use of social media in all areas of membership is growing. One participant from a trade association actively used LinkedIn to reach prospects while others used Facebook, Twitter feeds, and blogs to reinforce membership communications. An interesting discussion ensued regarding the value of member-only online networks versus open communities, but no clear path emerged. For additional thoughts on this topic, read the point-counterpoint article Social Networking Sites for Associations: Open Access or Members Only? in the ASAE Membership Section newsletter Membership Developments.

Amazing. At such an early hour, more than 50 individuals—powered by caffeine—willingly contributed and learned together. Thank you to each and every participant!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Email is loosing its effectiveness. So what's going on?

In the past 10 years, the use of email as a marketing tool has grown. But that continued growth is doubtful.

Tony Rossell, a dear friend, mentor and associate here at MGI, recently posted on his blog ( some interesting information on email which prompted me to dig a little deeper.

In the April/May, 2011 issue of, editors stated that: "People were impressed with the idea that email was practically free and that they could communicate with people just by pressing a button. But the reality is that the open rates are steadly decreasing - we're ssing open rates consistently under 10%, and three or four years ago they were in the high 20%'s" (p.22).

The  2010 U.S. Digital Year in Review showed stated that " is waning: Total usage of web-based email dropped 9% in 2010 with more precipitous declines occurring among younger age groups, particularly teenagers. It’s clear that communication is shifting not only to other platforms, but to other devices."
Preliminary analysis of the results from the 2011 MGI Membership Marketing Benchmarking Survey indicate that respondents reported only a small increase in using email to build awareness among prospects and little change in using email to engage or onboard new members and support renewal efforts from the previous year.

So, what is happening and where is the budget money being reallocated?

If you have kids, maybe you already know the answer...other online marketing channels. My 17 year-old son does not check his email anymore, nor does he really talk on the phone, nor does he really go to the movies. Its all about FaceBook, YouTube and Skype. These "other online channels" are now the preferred choice over email.

The 2010 U.S. Digital Year in Review Report reports that "In Q4, Facebook widened the lead it took earlier in the year vs. Google and the three major portals, and now accounts for just north of 12% of time online—and it seems to be climbing. Three out of every 10 internet sessions includes a Facebook visit, and Facebook accounts now accounts for 10% of all pageviews in the US. “Facebook” was also the top organic search phrase in 2010 with nearly 2 billion searches on that term–3 times greater than the next most searched for term. In short, it’s a behemoth--and getting bigger."

Interesting point...YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.
The report continues by stating that "Video adoption continues to climb, and online TV is now mainstream: More people watched video, and those that did watched more of it. The video audience grew by 32%, and time spent grew by 12%. The average American watched 14 hours of video in December. Hulu continues to be a big story, attracting twice as much viewing as the Top 5 broadcast sites (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW) combined. The proliferation of both publishers and platforms is contributing to changing behavior—creating not only more video users, but more and more ‘cord cutters’ (people who consume TV content solely online.) Based on activity in the back half of the year the rate of change is likely to continue or increase, making video an increasingly important part of the digital experience."
I reported earlier in this blog that:

  • 1 out of 8 couples married in the US last year met via Social Media. 
  • Years to Reach 50 Million Users: 
    • Radio........38 
    • TV............13 
    • Internet.......4 
    • iPod............3 
    • FaceBook...9 MONTHS 
  • 1 in 6 higher education students are enrolled on-line studies. 
  • 25% of search results for world’s top 20 brands are links to user generated content. 
  • 80% of companies are using LinkedIn as primary tool to find employees.

So there you have it. The money is moving to other on-line channels.

But is any of this really surprising? I don't think so.

As direct marketers we long ago realized the potential impact of those tools that EMPOWER our prospects.

100 years ago, people who lived in very secluded areas had little choice of stores to buy from. Montgomery Wards and Sears answered this call with their catalogs, EMPOWERING these people by giving them a greater choice in products and services.

10 years ago these catalogs were put on line and no longer did the prospect have to wait 30, 90, 180 or 360 days to get a catalog. They could go on-line to buy their products.

Today, prospects can go on-line to buy their products based upon the recommendations of their FaceBook "friends" and the recommendations of other people who have used the product. AND, if they don't know how to use the product, they can go on-line and find out. EMPOWERMENT!!

More associations are embracing Social Media to not only sell, but to educate and nurture. How are you using it? Do you have a Social Media plan? Let me know.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tips to Getting Email Frequency Right!

Published in the April 20th issue of Marketing Pros (, Ardath Albee was recently cited in "Three Tips to Getting Email Frequency Right" offering the following advice:

Accept that the length of the buy cycle is the length of the buy cycle. "If it's 8 months, trying to increase the frequency to complete the program in 3 months isn't going to change that," she argues. "Buyers will move at their own pace." Attempts to speed things up with additional email messages will likely annoy your leads and cause campaign fatigue.

Plan with a realistic view of your content-producing capabilities. It takes time to research, write, vet, approve and publish high-quality content. "Map your processes to a timeline so that you can meet the frequency schedule you choose to follow," Albee advises. "Better to space it out and do it well than to rush to publish based on an artificial schedule you cannot maintain over the long haul."

Coordinate the timing of email campaigns with each of your company's departments. "Unless you can isolate your targeted lead list," she says, "you need to look at the entire universe of email that they could be exposed to from your company and plan accordingly." You might think you're giving leads plenty of space, but they'll feel bombarded if they're also getting product announcements, corporate newsletters and webinar invitations from others in your organization.

The Po!nt: Take the time to clearly map things out. There's no simple formula for correct frequency, and yours depends on a host of variables—internal and external.
OK - non of this is truly groundbreaking or "HOLD THE PRESSES" important. we actually implement them? These are good rules to e-live by.