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.