Observations on sponsorship and membership sales, and how CEOs can retain and grow membership in 2021.
Hello and welcome to JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. President of The Moery Company, JP’s mission is to arm today’s associations with insight and strategy to thrive and a progressively complex and competitive business landscape. 21st century associations must move forward with a little bit of hustle and revenue development at their core.
Observations on Membership Sales
It currently takes us six membership sales contacts in 47 days to close a membership sale. That’s almost exactly what the sales cycle was last year. This is evidence that there is a certain amount of urgency right now in the industry to join associations. If you don’t ask it will not happen. I understand the empathy of the pandemic. I understand in some industries and industry segments that economics are bad, but the value of membership may be better than you’ve ever had it. You’ll never know unless you’re out there.
Another trend I have seen is related to membership retention. Membership retention is being much more planned and intentional than it was a year ago. It is not just an invoicing process. Secondly, there are legacy non-members or free riders that have possibly changed their impression about the association, and might be ready to join if you ask them.
Observations on Sponsorship Sales
We are down 15% in commission sales this year. We made this up in consulting and client volume. However, that decline is because sponsorship sales are in the tank. Here’s why virtual events in some cases, and the work that we’ve done have almost sold out, especially if you provide thought leadership opportunities and offer data for sponsors that use your platform: Your sponsorship team needs more inventory, more non-event inventory availability, like podcasts and social media posting and ads and newsletters. If you combine more inventory with virtual events, then you have a compelling sponsorship program. Secondly, too many virtual events or programs are on a very short sales leash, and we don’t have enough time to get out to the market and sell to people because we’re delaying our decision making. I hope coming out of this a result is that we have more non-event sponsorships and full year partnerships than we used to have. a result of the change that we’ve seen going on the next question.
Specific Recommendations for CEOs in 2021
If you don’t have a podcast, start one next year. Secondly, ask your membership team to put the retention plan for next year, not the billing cycle, on your desk by Monday morning.
Membership Offers and Message with a New Biden Administration
Every four years this happens: we see offense and defense depending upon this. Here’s what is different: you have the industry’s attention that you work with. Now, since you have their attention, there will be a great deal of activity that you can speak to around advocacy. Now is the time to shift from industry focus to member focus. That’s how the message might change. The association has been doing all this stuff for the industry. Now they will be doing things for their members. Because the work continues, organizations need to join so they can get those insights and information for the remainder of the year.
How can CEOs Use a Government Relations Framework to Recruit New Members?
First of all, I want to say this, I’m not beholden to legacy bias. I think Association business models have changed forever. Everything is on the table and should be if the communications, program, or the benefits of the service doesn’t help recruit a member. If something does not reinforce that joining was a good idea, gets them to join, gets them to be more involved, or encourages them to renew, I am not sure why you would do it. The fact of the matter is, people don’t buy because there’s too much risk involved. They don’t want to make a mistake. Show them that over the last 10 months, you have done everything to remove risk. You have deployed your government relations teams to make sure that you can revive and re-open your industries to keep them open and make them essential. You have extended a lot of information and demonstrated value to these groups. You have more people participating in your programs.
Some CEOs that I have spoken to have 100% CEO participation in their board meetings and used new platforms to deliver information. Younger people have become engaged because they have flattened the way people can get involved with them. They have eliminated risk and shown them their worth it. Don’t let that momentum dissipate. That is why it’s going to be the year of the association. It’s going to be the year of the association if we move forward and forget about the things that we used to do that may be antiquated and not worth it anymore.
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Top business advice and exit strategy for new business owners. Hello and welcome to JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. Founder of The Moery...