Developing a Membership Marketing Maturity Model

In the software world, there is a methodology to assess the level of sophistication an organization has achieved. It is called a Capability Maturity Model.

The thought came to me that it would be helpful to outline the same type of assessment in the area of membership marketing. Is it possible to evaluate an organization's level of sophistication in membership marketing?

I have been thinking about this for the past couple of weeks, so this concept is very developmental. I thought that I would share this proposed model and benefit from your feedback and insight. I am calling the Membership Marketing Maturity Model the 4M’s.

The model has four levels of maturity: (1.) Initial -- everyone has to start someplace, (2.) Basic, (3.) Good, and (4.) Great – a la the Seven Measures of Success.

The first driver for evaluating maturity that I have is management. So today, let’s take a look at the maturity model as it relates to the organizational management of membership marketing.

  • Initial: When organizations start out with membership marketing it is typically a board driven initiative. This is good. One of the roles of leadership is to initiate. A board member might say, “Let’s all call our friends and ask them to join or renew.” However, this model is dependent on volunteerism, so it is not often sustainable or scalable. An organization will not thrive for long by staying in this early stage of maturity.

  • Basic: At the basic level, the organization realizes that membership marketing takes a level of professionalism. Membership marketers are experienced with the principles, tools, and techniques that are needed. They competently manage the membership marketing process, but goals are handed down from the board or senior management based on the imperative de jour. They may have responsibility, but not authority.

  • Good: Management drives membership marketing through research, testing, and analysis. Goals, strategies and budgets are based on data. However, the organization’s operational constrictions, bylaws, or departmental silos impose a drag on the achievement of the membership marketing opportunities.

  • Great: A great membership marketing organization has a unified vision for growth. It brings together the people with expertise and talent; market data based decision-making; and the necessary “structures, processes, and interactions”[1] to achieve this vision.

As always, your feedback is appreciated. With input from others, my hope is that the 4M’s will be a tool that organizations can use in measuring and benchmarking their membership development program.

[1] Seven Measures of Success, page 24.


Chris said...

This is great Tony. This seems to be similar to a "product lifecycle" curve and that always has a decline after a peak right? I would be curious to know, if you were to follow the thought that this is similar to a product lifecycle curve, what comes after great?

Tony Rossell said...

Hi Chris -- I suppose that there is some similarity between the Maturity Model and the product life cycle. One difference is that with the Maturity Model my hope is that an association is getting beter and better at membership marketing. With a product life cycle the end of the road is death. Where do you see your organization in this model? Tony

Chris said...

I agree. I would tend to rate my association Good, bordering on great. We keep a current strategic plan which is updated and reviewed annually. Both our staff and Membership are kept aware of our strategic plan, our goals, our values. Our Membership is active in making these goals for us and helping our staff and other Members adhere to these goals.

I guess you could say that once an association reaches the fourth level in the Maturity Model, then "death" of the association is almost out of the question. Once an association has a unified vision for growth and makes decisions based on market data, then that association 'should' always be on top of what is going on in thier related industry; making thier appeal for Membership even more great.

Thanks for your input.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Rossell said...

Chris -- The Harvard Business Review has a great article entitled "The Quest for Resilence". I shared a quote from the article a few posts back. But yes, you are correct, a group that is in the Great area of the Maturity Model should be able to continue strong for the long term. I am still working on some additional Maturity Model posts. So far I have only commented on Managment. There are other components to this like product, promotion, etc. Tony