by Vivian Swertinski, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at Informz
One of my goals this year was to start and stick with a consistent exercise program. I’ve never been much of a runner, but have been intrigued by the emotional calm or “runners high” that runners seem to speak of. Not knowing what distance would be required to achieve that, I opted to join a local kickboxing club instead. It’s fun to start something new! Like most new members, I was enthusiastic and pumped up about the journey ahead of me. Reaching my fitness goals would require patience, practice, and perseverance. Of these three, perseverance is by far the hardest. Consistency to stay the course after the newness wears off is the membership challenge. This is true for me. This is true for you. For member-based organizations, this is a pivotal point in the relationship. What will happen to engagement when the newness wears off?
I found out quickly that my kickboxing club was not about to let me back slide. After a busy week, the message in my inbox was clear and direct.
“Hey Vivian, just wanted to check in on you as we haven’t seen you in class lately. Is everything ok? Consistency is probably the hardest part about achieving your goals, but it may be the most important piece of the puzzle. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to get you back in class, on the path to crushing your goals.”
Impressive! Just seven days had passed since my last class and I was already on their radar screen. The timing of the email message took me by surprise but I welcomed it and it was quite effective. Within 48 hours I was back on the mat throwing jabs, hooks, and practicing my roundhouse kicks.
I’d like to say that my attendance never lapsed again but that is not my story. Not that I was testing their strategy or anything, but I was curious to see what would trigger the next round of email messages. After missing class for two weeks straight I got my answer.
“Okay, Vivian, we seriously miss you! Where you at!? (insert smiley face) We want to see you out on the mat crushing those goals of yours. What do you say? Are you going to make it to the next class? Signed, your AWESOME kickboxing team.”
For the record, continued absence will trigger a personal phone call to inquire about my whereabouts and what they can do to help me get back on track.
As a paying member of their organization, I love that they notice my presence or lack thereof. I like being held accountable for pursuing the goals I set. It’s a smart business move on their part to anticipate, watch for and have a communication plan in place for when the newness wears off. My kickboxing club is vested in making sure that I make the most of my membership because frankly our future together depends on it.
So, what can a local kickboxing club teach us about membership marketing? Plenty!
- Anticipate that the newness will wear off.
- Track member activity to immediately recognize signs of disengagement.
- Be proactive and purposeful with member outreach.
- Implement an automated process to communicate effectively and efficiently.
In 2017, make sure you’re taking this segment of your audience into consideration. As a digital marketing strategist, I see organizations struggle with disengaged and lapsed member situations that have eroded to the point of needing drastic recovery measures. In fact, I recently worked with one association, the American Association for Respiratory Care, who had to pull out all the stops for a “stop the bleed” lapsed membership renewal campaign. (The good news is, it worked! 800 members returned in 45 days.)
The lesson from the kickboxing club is, do not let your members wander a great distance down the road of disengagement. Be watchful, be proactive, and be invested in member success.