Membership Recruitment Dues Discounts: The Do’s and Do Not’s

The other day, I received a membership recruitment mailing offering an end of the year 50% off first year dues discount from a respected professional association.
As a reader of this blog, you may know that I believe in making special offers available to recruit prospective members.  And done wisely, a special offer will produce more than enough new members to pay for the discount or premium and future renewal rates will only be marginally affected.
However, there is a difference between a well-planned, tested, and strategic use of a special offer and -- to use a football term -- an end of the year “Hail Mary Pass” that is designed to prop up final membership numbers. 
With a steep 50% off discount, it is unlikely that the additional response will make up for the lower price.  And even if it does, the members that are obtained will likely continue at a much lower rate when the full price is requested at the time of renewal.
The best approach to membership recruitment continues to be a regular stream of value laden communications that include an incentive to act within a given timeframe.  This approach allows for testing and optimization of the program over the course of the year.
As football seasons draw to a close, we may see some amazing come from behind victories in the last seconds of a game.  But I would rather have the outcome of the game clear in the third quarter because my team executed and effective game plan from the start.  As we go into the next year, be sure organization has a well thought out membership recruitment strategy and schedule in place. 

1 comment:

Tim Butte said...


Ask any membership manager at America's zoos, museums and aquariums that "got drunk" on the promises of GroupOn and Living Social discounts how far their retention rates plummeted the following year...when the party was over.