In most member-based organizations, many of the strategies needed to achieve growth and higher revenue typically falls on the shoulders of the Membership Leader.
My experience has taught me the task is a far bigger effort than one person can reasonably accomplish. It takes a collaborative team. For over two decades, I worked in member organizations, wearing many hats related to membership growth. Here are a few lessons I learned that will help you implement and manage your own organization’s growth strategy. Here are three lessons to help you spark member growth in your organization:
Lesson 1: It’s a team effort.
The entire organization owns responsibility for growth. Every staff member can promote the organization’s brand and value proposition in their interactions with members, and through their service in support of their colleagues.
In my association, we achieved our greatest success when everyone pulled together and shared the load. If you are the only one carrying the weight of growing membership, then consider how you might be able to form a diverse team of resources from the key business units that will be supporting your strategy. An example of the resources that should be present at a strategy kick-off meeting would likely include representatives from sales, marketing and corporate communications; budgeting and finance, information technology, product management; and your member-facing staff. I adopted this approach at one of my smaller clubs. We were able to leverage the collective thinking of each other and identify opportunities, set priorities, track results and ultimately succeed, together.
Lesson 2: Plan your work and work your plan.
It is an overused cliché but rooted in truth. Careful planning and flawless execution ensure that all participants and stakeholders have a clear sense of purpose and direction. A membership growth plan provides the organization with a budget and roadmap to navigate the steps in the project, set priorities and ensure that milestones are on the radar. A comprehensive plan would ideally include provisions for regular recurring internal and external communications across multiple channels; clear objectives that paint a picture of success, such as a specified percentage increase in members, or a desired response rate to offers; and a solid friction-free new member onboarding process.
At one of my club locations, we would produce a beautiful PowerPoint of our membership growth plan. But we were so focused on achievements that we paid too little attention to budget concerns and sometimes put our plan aside to spend most of our time trying to save money and put out fires. We learned that plans must be flexible enough to accommodate changes in the environment. As the Membership Leader, you know that member growth is all about results and the best way to get results is to plan for them and envision the reality of their success.
Lesson 3: Count is king.
Management flies blind in the absence of measurements. We must know where we stand on our plan’s progress relative to key performance metrics. We need to know what is working and what needs to change. A Membership Dashboard with key performance indicators tell the story of how the organization is doing compared to its goals. Some indicators useful to your company’s decision makers would include progress compared to the starting point, year-over-year membership growth; and click-throughs from your email and Internet channels. Don’t get too caught up in the analysis. One of the key takeaways for me was having a firm understanding of how the numbers were calculated. I am by no means a mathematical person, but I do have an analytical mind. Numbers speak to me and I love to dig into the data and find the hidden stories. The data analytics reveal the insights we need to help us most effectively serve our members. “Listen” to the stories your data is telling you and see how you can apply your new understanding to test and refine your results.
You will be pleasantly surprised to see how much more growth can be achieved through team effort, a well-crafted plan and rigor in how you track and measure progress.