Thursday, January 27, 2011

25 Universal Secrets that Could Help You Drive Your Membership and Non-Dues Revenue

My good friend and mentor, Tony Rossell ( Membership Marketing Blog ), sent me the following "25 Secrets." These are true gems for everyone who needs to have others accept and act on his/her ideas - Exec Director to Board, President to Client...even Parent to Child.

In that line of thought, perhaps even Association to Prospective Member. 

These secrets are universal and I thought perhaps I'd share them with you all with the recommendation that you think about them when you develop your membership and product sales strategies.  

Have fun and good luck... 

1 Don’t sell me your product, sell me solutions.

2 Understand my business, understand my industry, and understand my market.

3 Understand your product or service thoroughly so that you know every conceivable way it might help me solve my problems or meet my goal.

4 Know everything you can about your competition. I have to make decisions about which product is best, and I need to know what makes yours the best choice for me.

5 Watch what you say about the competition. I want to know why your product is the best choice, but I don’t want you to knock the competition. Concentrate on your strengths, not their weaknesses.

6 Don’t give me a canned, generic pitch. Appreciate my unique qualities and challenges.

7 Have my best interest at heart.

8 Make me feel important. Make me believe I’ m the only customer you have even though I know it’s not true.

9 Have a purpose for every call.

10 Organize your materials so that when I ask to see information, you have it easily accessible.

11 Return my calls promptly. I expect that you’ll be as available to talk to me now as you were before the sale was completed.

12 Let me know how to reach you. If I can’t find you, I’ll go with someone else.

13 Help me solve a problem, even if it’s your fault, and I’ll most likely remain a loyal customer.

14 I’m looking for a sales rep I can consider a member of my Account Management, a partner, almost an employee. When you help me find solutions to run my business better, it’s easier for me to see you in that light.

15 Keep your promises. If you say you’ll get back to me, do it.

16 Anyone can make a one-time sale. It’s the follow-through that keeps me coming back for more.

17 If you don’t have an immediate answer, don’t try to fake it or make one up. I’d rather you say,   I don’t know, but I’ll find out. Of course, once you say that, you must get back to me with the answer as soon as possible.

18 Let me know that you’re interested in my success. If that means that you sometimes recommend the competition or tell me I’m better off with the product or service I now have, I’ll respect you greatly and find a way to do business with you in the future.

19 Be my consultant. Show me how others in my field have been successful. Become a resource for me so that I can call on you when I’m in a bind and need advice even if it’s got nothing to do with your product or service.

20 Create added value. Price is not my only criterion. The extra service and special attention you give me is worth more than dollars in many instances.

21 Exceed my expectations. Let me know that you are willing to go beyond the norm, to make that extra effort it takes to ensure success mine and yours.

22 Don’t keep me waiting. If you’re going to be late, call me.

23 Exhibit a positive attitude and enthusiasm about your job and your product. If you don’t believe in yourself, I won’t believe in you either.

24 Don’t argue with me or be too aggressive. If I feel like I’m being pushed into a sale, I know you’re interested in your commissions, not your customers.

25 Be honest with me in all situations. If there are problems, let me know so that together we can begin to think of solutions.

Barry J. Farber, “Sales Secrets from Your Customers”, Career Press (April 1995). 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The difference between Membership and Loyalty

I often speak with corporate marketers about developing programs that increase the level of engagement between their customers and their business. Usually they end up saying something like "...we already have a loyalty program."

Well, a loyalty program is very different than a membership program.

Wikipedia defines a Loyalty Program as "...structured marketing efforts that reward, and therefore encourage, loyal buying behavior — behavior which is potentially of benefit to the firm."[

The focus of the relationship is one dimensional being only based upon 'buying' or simply transactions.

Membership is a whole 'nuther kettle of fish.

With membership, the customer also buys into the "mission" of the organization and is aptly '"rewarded" for this both by the organization as well as by his/her own good feelings of accomplishment. Membership uses the individuals need to be part of something bigger, to leave a legacy, to develop a loyalty that far surpasses anything a simple "loyalty program" can achieve.

This is what corporations should be aspiring to. Jimmy Buffet, KISS, Apple, the list goes on. These corporate brands have taken loyalty to the level of membership. Their customers 'identify' with them and THAT drives sales. The sales are indicative of the loyalty - but not the whole shabang.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Recommended Social Media Platforms Group by Number of Users

Social Media has revolutionized our concept of direct marketing by faciliating the "one-to-one" value that direct mail and other more traditional channels provide to becoming more of a 'conversation.' So instead of simply presenting an offer through, say, direct mail and then waiting for the BRE to return with a check. We now have to present the offer, then respond to a question by the prospect which we need to respond to, which may lead to an observation by the prospect which we need to respond to, which may lead to another question or two by the prospet which we need to respond to, which hopefully will ultimately lead to a purchase.

WOW! What was once a very easy tactical initiative to drive sales with an easily calculated ROI, has now become the proverbial Kraken.

While this is ONLY ONE aspect of Social Media also consider the simple fact that the whole channel is continually changing. What was a good idea yesterday, will become 'old hat' by tomorrow. What is hot today will become so 'last year' in a matter of days.

To me, this is almost like skeet shooting in a cross wind.

The good side is we are an adaptable race. As we become more educated and more comfortable with using Social Media we'll more easily encorporate it into our campaigns and life will go on.

For now, however, if your job includes the monitoring, management and/or promotion of a company's brand through social media, you may want to consider educating yourself about and participating in all the platforms that might matter to your membership organization. The following are my personal recommendations for the average social media marketer to consider, grouped by users:

100 Million+ Users
•MySpace (though they're fading)

25 Million+ Users

10 Million+ Users
•Digg (fading)
•Delicious (fading)


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Special Offer for my Readers - 1/2 Hour FREE Consulting

As a thank you to readers of my blog, I would like to offer you a FREE 1/2 hour of marketing consultation.

If you have a single issue you'd like to 'talk out,' want advice on developing a marketing and sales strategic plan, or want a conference call with your Executive Director or President or Board of Directors to discuss the state and future of membership marketing, I would be happy to talk with you at no charge.

If you care to take me up on this offer, and I really hope that you do, please call my office at (703) 706-0358 and we'll arrange a time that works for the both of us.

I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Will 2011 be the Year of Customer Service? YES!!!

I just read an article that cited several references to the fact that there is a new found respect for customer service.  Given the increased expectations of members and customers, customer service is more complicated and demanding then ever before...and it is more important than ever before!

We all know that the more positive experiences a member or customer has the greater the probability that they will renew or buy more product. However, and let's face it, in the not so distant past we really did not respect that aspect of the sales process. If you don't agree, remember that many times customer service representatives were (and still are in some cases) measured against the amount of time it takes them to get a caller off the phone. We hope its the successful resolution of a problem, but that's not always the case (as I've personally experienced).

Now, many organizations and businesses have recognized the positive connection between customer satisfaction (if not something even greater than satisfaction) and increased sales. In addition, the customer service professional is also the point person to up-sell the member or customer. If I may, I'll relate a personal experience from only a few weeks ago.

This past Christmas I had the absolute joy (yes, JOY) of ordering from Crutchfield Electronics ( If you don't know them, they offer a wide variety of electronic products.  My son had to have a specific radio for his car (2005 RED Mustang convertible - I want to be him when I grow up). He showed it to me and I immediately (2 weeks later) went to the website.

Now, what I know about car radios could fill a thimble. I am not an audio-phile. So, when I went to the site I was simply overwhelmed. I called customer service. My agent was FANTASTIC. I told him what I wanted and we discussed the pros and cons in simple, mono-syllabic words that had a basis in common english. He even kept me focused on getting the best buy based upon what I told him I was looking for - and believe once I got going I looked at several radios that had nothing to do with what I first set out to buy.

In  fact, I was so pleased with my experience with this guy, I actually did purchase a more expensive model, but it was the next model up from the one my son asked for.

They then delivered the product within 3 days!  Which was really good and gave me two days to wrap it before Christmas Day (c'mon, we all did last minute shopping).
This guy's patience and investment of an additional 12 minutes increased my sale over $75.00. And now I'm writing about and Crutchfield is getting a little more advertising.

This guy was a pro. Crutchfield is a well run business.

Looking ahead to 2011, don't skimp on your customer service team. Look for people who want to talk with people and want to solve their problems. Don't hamstring them with measurements based upon saving money, but measure them on how they can make you money with increased customer/member satisfaction and upsells. Also, listen to them. They are in many cases a front -line to your customer/membership base and can be an early warning system in case there is a problem AS WELL AS letting you know when a great opportunity arises.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Goodbye 2010...Helllooooooooooo 2011!

What an interesting year 2010 ended up being. I met a great many interesting and very intelligent people this year. Many I count as new friends. I also got to know better many of my old friends.

I want to thank all of my clients for entrusting me and MGI with your work. I hope you realize how much I appreciate and honor your trust.

As a personal wish to you all, I hope you achieve your aspirations for 2011.  I hope you know that can always count on me to help if I can and that if I can't, I will do my best to point you in the direction of someone who can.

Have a great 2011 and I look forward to talking and working with all of you.



Now is the time to start using a Membership Dashboard

One of the best tools I've found is a Membership Dashboard. We developed one here at MGI and pass it out for free to anybody who asks for it. It is a great diagnostic tool which WILL help you understand the ebb and flow of your membership, the impact of your promotions and help you enhance the effectiveness of future programs.

Since it is January 2nd, now is the best time to start. So, in case you're unsure as to where to start, a good Membership Dashboard will contain the following information:

  1. Total Members per Month 
    1. Current
    2. Same month last year
    3. Percentage increase/decrease
  2. Members Acquired per Month
    1. Current
    2. Same month last year
  3. Member Conversions per Month (1st year renewed members)
    1. Current
    2. Same month last year
  4. Renewals per month (year 2+ renewals)
    1. Current 
    2. Same month last year
    3. Members Renewed per Month
  5. Total Renewals per Month
    1. Total eligible (to renew)
    2. Total actual (that renewed)
    3. Total count

When set up properly, you can also set the dashboard up so that it will graphically display the results. As a practical tool, it may be easier for you to show a graph to your leadership than a series of numbers. Just a thought.

As I said earlier, we have one which I will be happy to send to you (it also is set up to graphically display the information).  Start 2011 by developing a tool you and your team will use.