We Only Need One…………
By Mark Levin, CAE, CSP
During a recent membership program in London, I was team-teaching with UK membership expert Sue Froggatt (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we had the group discussing current membership recruitment efforts. The discussion centered on membership campaigns, and whether or not there was actually anything new and successful going on.
The general lament of the participants was that all of these “member-get-a-member” campaigns are getting stale and that it is getting harder and harder to get current members to participate in them. There is no substitute for member-to-member recruiting, everyone agreed, but members complain about the time involved to go out and find good prospects, approach these prospects about joining, know what to say, know how to overcome the objections, close the sale, report back to the organization, etc., etc.
Who could blame them for feeling overwhelmed?
The group in which I participated talked about the need to simplify the whole recruiting challenge for current members. We talked about giving them some of the most important tools, like an effective membership recruitment message, and some unique written materials, which were easy to handle (those brochures and applications and folders get to be too much).
One of the participants was a staffer from the Scottish Wildlife Trust, a membership-based wildlife protection group. He showed us a copy of their most recent membership/brochure and application. It was certainly unique.
First of all, it was a brochure that was about the size of business card. It was folded so that it contained 8 “panels” but was still very compact. On the front cover was a picture of a couple of very cute (but endangered) red squirrels. What got me, though, was the slogan that was on there:
We Only Need One New Member
It was catchy and to the point, I remarked. And then I opened to the next panel, which was completely blank except for four words printed in large letters in the middle.
I thought of you.
As I smiled broadly, I also smacked my forehead and went “DUH!”
How simple and direct and personal. They didn’t want “as many new members as we can get”, they wanted one new member. They didn’t want whomever they could get to join, they wanted me (the recipient of the brochure) to join.
The staffer said that they were sending a brochure to each of their current members, with the request that they only ask one person to join – the one person that they were most sure would want to be a partner with the recruiting member and SWT in pursuing their mutual goal of a better Scotland. Of course, they wanted members to do more than just hand the brochure to the prospect, but it was start.
It seems to me that all of us can take something from this simple message. If we personalize the appeal for membership, and let prospects feel that we genuinely want to help them (individually) through their membership, we have a chance to at least get them to listen to our message. Even better, if they join and we follow though by providing a unique and personalized membership experience, they’ll be more likely to renew.
Sure, I know that we really do want “as many members as we can get.” But that’s an internal message. I think maybe the correct “external” message might need to be
We only need one new member.
(Mark Levin, CAE, CSP, is an internationally respected speaker and author who specializes in leadership development, membership development, and strategic planning for membership-based associations and organizations. He has spoken to, and consulted with, thousands of organizations throughout the world.
He can be reached via his website at www.baileadership.com or check out his leadership and membership programs via video at www.youtube.com/marklevin1. )