Happy Thanksgiving!

The other day I came across this old Puritan prayer and I thought it would be appropriate to share for Thanksgiving. It is titled, A Puritan Prayer for Thanksgiving.

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
my heart admires, adores, loves Thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before Thee in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with Thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless Thee for the soul Thou hast created,
for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body Thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigor,
for providing senses to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do Thy bidding;
for Thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing Thee clearly.
I love Thee above the powers of language to express,
for what Thou art to Thy creatures.
Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity. Amen 1

1 The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur G. Bennett

Continue Efforts to Reinstate Former Members

The other day, I was presenting some of the membership research and one of the audience members expressed shock that our data suggested not giving up on trying to reinstate former members. “The former members left the organization. Why would you keep trying to bring them back?”

I thought that it might be of interest to share some real world response rates that support the point of working to restore the membership relationship with an expired member.

With one client organization, we regularly market to former members and ask them to reinstate their membership. In fact, we go back to members who expired in the year 2000. These members who have been gone for nine years still produce a very nice return -- 40% margin over marketing costs. On the other hand, for this organization, reaching out to those who have never been a member actually produces a return well below breakeven.

One note to remember, going back to former members only works if there has been good database hygiene practices in place. Running records through National Change of Address (NCOA) which corrects records going back for up to 48 months needs to be done on a regular basis. Also USPS Ancillary Service Endorsements should be used. "Ancillary service endorsements are used by mailers to request an addressee's new address and to provide the USPS with instructions on how to handle undeliverable-as-addressed pieces." There are a number of options available, so take a look at the link.

It is almost always a safe bet to reach out to former members as a first priority over prospects who have never been members.

Structuring Your Organization around the Value You Deliver

For many organizations the end of the year is a time to look and see if your strategies, tactics, and structure line up with your vision.

One of the top resources that I have found in helping an organization focus is a book by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema, The Discipline of Market Leaders. I read it many years ago and still refer to it today.

They write, “The message . . . Is that no company can succeed today by trying to be all things to all people. It must instead find the unique value it alone can deliver to a chosen market.”[1]

To help organizations do this analysis, they divide organizations up into three different types of “value disciplines”. The opportunity for us as we plan is to determine the value discipline that best fits the strategy for our organization and then use the characteristics of that discipline to help in building staff and structure.

Here are some highlights of each of the three value disciplines.

1. Operational Excellence (examples Wal-Mart and McDonalds)
  • Value Proposition: Best Total Value
  • Golden Rule: Variety kills efficiency
  • Business Structure: Standardized, simplified, tightly controlled, centrally planned, little discretion for rank and file
  • Culture: Abhors waste and rewards efficiency
  • People: Team counts, not individual, train them our way

2. Product Leadership (examples Intel and 3M)

  • Value Proposition: Best Product
  • Golden Rule: Cannibalize your success with breakthroughs
  • Business Structure: Loosely knit, ad hoc, ever changing so as to adjust to entrepreneurial initiatives and redirection
  • Culture: Encourages individual imagination & accomplishment
  • People: Get the talent

3. Customer Intimacy (examples Nordstrom and IBM)

  • Value Proposition: Best Total Solution
  • Golden Rule: Solve the customer’s broader problem
  • Business Structure: Delegate decisions to employees close to the customer
  • Culture: Embraces specific (not general) solutions and thrives on deep and lasting customer relationships
  • People: Stay at forefront and learn – broad skills and styles

Which value discipline do you identify with of the three? The structure you build will be very different based on where you focus.

[1] The Discipline of Market Leaders: Choose Your Customers Narrow Your Focus, Dominate Your Market by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema, page xiv

Calculating Membership Lifetime Value

It is nice to see that some things do not change – like math. I came across an article I had read many years ago that was originally written back in 1991 outlining how to calculate the lifetime value of a member.

Understanding lifetime value (LTV) is a fundamental calculation that every membership organization should do. It let’s you know how much you can spend to acquire and keep your members. It is the foundation for a membership marketing strategy.

There are some shortcuts that I use these days to get to the numbers a little more quickly, but the article is worth reviewing.

The article was written by Harmon O. Pritchard, Jr., who at the time was senior vice president of membership for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Harmon along with Scott McBride, the founder of Marketing General, Inc. were really the first to apply the LTV concept to membership marketing world.

Here is the link:


Let me know what you think.