Get Your Free Copy of the Membership Marketing Research Benchmark Report


If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may recall that last year, we produced a comprehensive study on best practices in dues increases based on our research from hundreds of associations.

We are now deploying a survey to benchmark membership marketing practices.

I think you will find the research will offer very helpful insights on membership acquisition, new member engagement, and member retention. If you are part of a membership organization and would like a free copy of the final report from this research, all you have to do is complete the survey.

Responses will be strictly confidential and all participants will receive a copy of the full survey report and analysis. Simply click here to start the survey. Your participation is much appreciated.

You can fill it out in the time it takes me to go for a short walk with my dog. Use the link to complete the survey now. Thanks in advance for your input.

Does Common Marketing Wisdom still Apply?


Common marketing wisdom in a recession says the following.

“It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times.”[1]

This obviously assumes that the spending is done in a thoughtful and well targeted manner.

Does this still apply with our current conditions or do we need a new recession marketing philosophy? What do you think?


[1] John Quelch, Marketing Your Way Through a Recession, Harvard Business School, March 3, 2008

Dating, Romance and Membership Marketing

“With people cutting back you'd think the dating industry would be hurting. But it's not. Because it turns out that when the Dow drops, singles search even harder for mates.” At least that is what Marketplace reported.

They went onto say, “Digital cupid E-Harmony did a study that shows when the stock market dips, traffic to their site increases”

Why is this the case? The report continues that “when people are going through tough times they look to be with people who care about them, who will understand their concerns.”[1]

This same psychological framework can be applied to membership. In tough times many professionals seek security and community in their professional association. And associations that are taking advantage of this are seeing membership grow as we outlined in recent posts; It is the Best of Times!, Does the Washington Post have the Full Story?, and The Upside of Down.

But there is one wildcard in the equation! What happens when the company who funds many memberships decides to break up the romance by refusing to pay dues? What happens to the member relationship then?

In an ASAE and the Center report, Beliefs, Behaviors and Attitudes in Response to the Economy, this question was asked of those who were enjoying company paid membership dues. Of these, 56.6% said that they would continue to pay dues if the company stopped and 43.3% said that they would drop the membership.

Feel free to share any ideas that you have on how the association can “keep that loving feeling” with members whose companies don’t want to pay up.

[1] Marketplace, Bad economy does dating good, Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Marketing General, Inc. Announces Merger

There are some areas – in my estimation -- where associations and non-profits dramatically outperform for profits. This is especially true in the area of relationship marketing. Associations understand the paramount importance of the membership relationship.

However, it is my observation compared to for profits, associations lag behind the corporate world in online marketing. I think the research that I reported on in my last post confirms the lack of successful adoption of online marketing tools for associations. Associations reported that they were having the least marketing success with this channel.

That is why, my firm, Marketing General, Inc. (MGI) is very pleased to announced a merger with Revolve Marketing. Revolve will become the online marketing division of MGI. Here is a copy of the press release.

Revolve Marketing has served for profit companies in the real estate, tourism, and leisure industries over the past decade building eye popping online tools to acquire and cultivate new customers. These online tools – including paid search, ad networks, link building, and social media connected to microsites with trigger marketing database applications -- have become their clients’ most cost effective channels for customer acquisition. Revolve will continue to serve their current clientele, but now through MGI will use these tools to help associations acquire and retain more members and generate more attendance at conferences and meetings.

If you would like to learn more or have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

Membership Development Ranked as Top Priority in 2009

When new association research is released, I try to stay on top of it and share the highpoints on this blog.

A recent report, “Associations: A Benchmarking Report on Association Priorities, Challenges and Strategies for the Coming Year” by McKinley Marketing, Inc., had some insights on what the priorities for associations are in 2009.

I was encouraged to see that the responses heavily focused on getting and keeping members. In challenging times, I cannot think of a much better priority. The ongoing, renewable membership relationship can sustain an organization like no other revenue stream.

Here is how respondents answered the question, “What are your three highest priorities for 2009?” They said:

  1. Improving member retention -- 50%
  2. New Member Acquisition -- 41%
  3. Branding/Increasing Awareness -- 36%
  4. Developing new methods for member engagement -- 34%
  5. Increasing meeting attendance -- 25%

By the way, “incorporating social media into marketing strategy” came in 7Th place with 18%.

The report also concluded that “Direct mail, event marketing and public relations are considered the most effective tactics to accomplish all [marketing} goals; online media tactics are considered the least effective.”[1] However, as expertise grows, I suspect that online tactics will become more important in coming years.

The survey went to over 2,500 associations and participating associations included well known groups like the: American Library Association; Association Forum of Chicagoland; American Society for Quality; American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers; American Society of Mechanical Engineers; American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and National Society of Professional Engineers

What would you set as your organizations top three priorities in 2009? Please feel free to share them.


[1] 2009 Economic Impact on Associations, page 10