Four Questions to Answer before Setting a Membership Growth Goal

The late, great Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up someplace else.”
His thoughts certainly hold true in membership marketing.  Everyone likes a catchy phrase.  A leader may have stated a goal like, “20,000 members by the year 2020.” However, the frustration and challenge for many membership marketers is the goal may have been set without understanding the context of what it will take to achieve the goal.
Setting a membership development goal is a great idea, but to make it realistic, it requires the answer to four foundational questions.
·        Who are the prospective members that you want to recruit and are there enough of them to achieve the goal?

·        What is the value proposition that will appeal to these prospects and are there products and services to support the value proposition?

·        How will these prospects be reached (marketing channels), how often (frequency), how will they be incentive to act (offer), and how will the results be measured?

·        What is the economic model to reach the goal including the necessary budget availability, the required ROI, and the projected life time value of a member?
These are not easy questions to work through for an organization.  And there may be some resistance to the process because everyone is looking for a “silver bullet” answer or they may feel they already have the answer, “if we only do this, we will solve our membership problem.” 

But if these important planning questions are not addressed, the likelihood of ending up “someplace else” other than where you hoped is very likely.
The bottom line: before setting or agreeing to a membership growth goal, do the homework to make sure that it is reasonable, sustainable, measurable, and economically feasible.


Scott Oser said...


This is a great post. Setting goals that are achievable in all of the ways that you mention is very important to an association. One area that setting goals without taking these things into consideration can impact, that is often overlooked, is staff morale. If a goal is set that is unachievable the resulting lack of success is often placed on the membership director or the membership team. Many marketers realize that they can end up being the fall guy even when expectations are unrealistic but when it does happen it can impact the individual and the organization in a negative way. The end result is that not only does the association miss it's membership number and revenue goals but it also alienates and frustrates some employees. That is a pretty deadly combination.

Thanks for putting this out there!


Kait S. said...

Associations also lack an overall membership objective. Sometimes it's not about the amount of members, so market penetration is the wrong metric to measure. Are you attracting the RIGHT members? This is the better question than trying to blindly recruit prospects to hit an arbitrary number.

Tony Rossell said...

Hi Scott -- You make an excellent point. We have both seen what you describe happen in our field. Tony

Tony Rossell said...

Hi Kait -- Thank you for the comment. You make a good point. A well run membership marketing program will monitor response rates, renewal rates, and the lifetime value of a member. By doing this analysis, an organization can determine and monitor if they are attracting the right members. Tony

Albert jack said...

Your write-ups are far more than wow! Smart Skink

Tony Rossell said...

“A goal without a method is nonsense.” – W. Edwards Deming