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!

1 comment:

  1. Your post is very interesting. I particularly liked the segment on the increasing uses of social media. I feel that companies such as associate management companies are using various social media more and more to help market for their members. Here at Huntington Association Management, we are a marketing and association management resource for a whole range of clients and we strive to use social media to help build and reach out to new prospects. Check out our company at