On Target Membership Marketing

Recently, I had the opportunity to present a session for ASAE on membership marketing. I shared the following three steps to building a strong and sustainable on target membership program.

1. Get Ready – Establish a knowledge foundation by tracking your organization’s key membership statistics and looking at industry benchmarks.
2. Take Aim – Build an economic model for membership that is based on sound principles and helps you set realistic and achievable goals.
3. And Fire – Develop and implement a segmented, high frequency, multi-channel, track-able, and test driven recruitment and retention program.
Here are the slides from that presentation.


The Membership Economy


It is great to find a new book that has been waiting to be written for a long time.  The Membership Economy: Find Your Superusers, Master the Forever Transaction, and Build Recurring Revenue is that book.  It makes the case for the membership relationship across almost all organizational platforms. 
The author, Robbie Kellman Baxter, maintains that membership is the lever for success for organizations from online businesses like Pandora, to communities like LinkedIn; to loyalty programs like airline frequent flyer programs, to traditional programs like Weight Watchers; and yes, even for non-profits and associations. To support this, she offers lessons learned in numerous case studies on how organizations have successfully employed the membership concept.
Baxter argues that “Virtually any organization can become part of the Membership Economy. Membership strengthens loyalty.  Membership strengthens participation.  Membership strengthens referrals.  And organizations that think about membership tend to focus more on providing long-term value, which ultimately leads to better customer lifetime value.  Any CEO who is not thinking about membership is missing a huge opportunity to point his or her organization toward long-term sustainable profitability” (page 22).
In addition to making the case for membership and providing successful case studies, the book shares strategies and tactics, many of which you will see endorsed here on the Membership Marketing Blog, on how to effectively implement and optimize a membership program.  Baxter emphasizes that for effective membership marketing you need to build an acquisition funnel, onboard new members, establish a pricing model, consider a freemium option, track the right data, and retain members.
Some today make the case that membership is obsolete or no longer relevant.  Baxter strongly makes the opposite case.  She says, “A certain type of organization is winning the hearts and voices of their customers, and building the kind of loyalty that traditionally was reserved for family, community, and church.  The secret that these organizations know is that people are craving membership.  Organizations that build their businesses around people’s needs to belong, to be connected, and to be admired, that are focused on relationship over products are winning in today’s economy” (page 9).
The Membership Economy will be published this month and is a great read for anyone considering developing or currently managing a membership program.