November 15, 2018   |   Vol. 17   |   Issue 11
Rob Bergeron, CAE, MGI Relationship Director

Where to Start When Your Board Says "Increase Membership NOW!"

We’ve all been there, right? Maybe you are even there right now. The powers that be have sent an important directive to you and your team. Without much detail. And with an urgent deadline. So you need to provide an impressive answer. Not just one that shows you are a subject matter expert; but one that demonstrates your strategic thinking.

So, before you move forward, you need to decide something else first: where to start? Ah, the silver bullet seems like it would be a good place to begin [and to end], right? Alas, there normally is no silver bullet. Plus, it can be difficult enough to increase membership, let alone to increase it right now. But there are a set of strategies and tactics, when utilized along with your association’s nuances, which will typically result in membership success.

This is why Marketing General Incorporated (MGI) developed the MGI Membership Lifecycle™, a five-step marketing model that segments the membership experience into successive parts by identifying the fundamental building blocks of sustainable growth. Sometimes you need to step back before you can move forward. This is where you start.

The Membership Lifecycle

Ask just a few questions for each stage of your members’ lifecycle. It will show you exactly where staff should put more focus and take more action so you can bring more successes back to the board…

AWARENESS: when prospects first discover you

  • Is our organization’s awareness level high or low, and is it good or bad? [how about its self-awareness?]
  • Is our organization presented to the marketplace in a way that is consistent with our answers above?
  • Do we have a clearly articulated story serving as the keystone of our branding strategy?

RECRUITMENT: when prospects choose to try you

  • Is our recruitment campaign accurately reaching the target market? [single biggest factor]
  • Is our target market clearly satisfied with the membership offer? [second biggest factor]
  • Is our membership offer using the most succinct marketing message?
  • Is our marketing message being delivered by the most appropriate promotional channels and tactics?

ENGAGEMENT: when new members feel they belong with you

  • Are our engagement programs generating ongoing interactions and not just providing information?
  • Do we treat every new member as an at-risk renewal for that entire first year?
  • Is the cost to renew a member less than the cost to acquire a member? [it should be]

RENEWAL: when lapsing members decide whether to keep you

  • Is our membership renewal process quick and easy?
  • How often do we remind members to renew, and how clearly do we confirm it when they do?
  • Have we considered and evaluated all possible payment options?
  • Is the timing of our renewal communication as effective as it could be?

REINSTATEMENT: when former members agree to return to you

  • Do our actions here support the fact that the most likely individual to return is one who most recently left?
  • If our reinstatement program is strong, it means our renewal program is weak–do we know why it is weak?
  • We know that past members’ behavior can predict future members’ renewals–do we utilize that data?

While this lifecycle separates the marketing process into five steps, they are by no means separate onto themselves. They can be addressed one by one, several at a time, or altogether. And remember–each one should be continually tested to ensure you are most effectively deploying your membership resources.

Regardless of the means by which you use them, these five points have proven to be effective for maximizing revenue. So you will not just be able to tell your board that your plan is strategic and tactical. By stepping back before you move forward, you should also soon be able to tell them that you have now increased membership.

[composed with special recognition for and thanks to MGI Senior Vice President Tony Rossell]

If you would like more information about the MGI Membership Lifecycle™–or about how MGI can partner with you to help increase your membership NOW–contact Rob Bergeron, CAE, at or 703-706-0329.

Request a Membership Consultation