Wednesday, May 25, 2011

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

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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!