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 I hear about the database that is poorly managed or that research on member needs is outdated or non-existent.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