By: Mary Craig
Many clubs have a turnover rate of 15-20% per year or higher. People leave because they lose interest, they have health or financial problems, they move away, or because they are no longer being served by the club and what it has to offer. Some clubs lose people because they cannot get renewal notices sent out reliably, so members have no idea that it’s time to renew. Some clubs just don’t market themselves very well, figuring that “passion” alone is enough to keep people interested and paying their dues. How do you build a strong and vibrant club that actually grows and survives more than a few years?
Let’s face it, running a club can be a huge amount of work! And yet, being a member of a club and participating in its activities has enormous rewards. So the question that all owners seem to ask is: how do I create a strong club, one that members want to join and renew, one with a strong and growing core of active members, one with a “virtuous cycle” of people who get involved, which in turn gets more people to join and renew?
It’s simple. Follow these steps to get started.
You Renewal program needs:
- Personality and power
We suggest renewal postcards/letters or emails need to be “personal and powerful” to prompt action. Your renewal letter or email needs to speak to each member and make them feel they have a personal connection to your club. It should be a powerful message that reminds and reinforces the value your organization brings to their personal and/or professional life. It also needs to acknowledge both the organization’s commitment to the member and the importance of his/her support.
One way to ensure you are offering up a personal touch is to step back and think about what you’d want to hear if you were a member. If you are just filling space or making these very generic, please stop! Just take a moment and ask yourself…what do I want to get if I were a member?
- Customize your message
Start the process by thinking about what sets your members apart – for example:
- Do you have a number of membership levels or categories? (e.g., student, VIP member, retired, tanning, etc.)
- Do you segment your list based on membership status? (new member, active member; long-standing member, inactive member, prospects)
The more you know about your members, the more you can personalize the postcard/letter or email to speak directly to them. If you know that a group of members have been active in your Zumba classes or Personal Training sessions, you might want to consider creating separate letters or emails based on their activity level in your club.
- a powerful “we miss you” message (maybe from a personal trainer?)
- a personal “couldn’t do it without you” note for long-standing members
- a welcoming note for new members renewing for the first time
- a “welcome back” note for former/returning members
If you are struggling to find the best way to address a specific segment, try reaching out to Club Marketing at ABC Financial and one of our Marketing Specialist can help!
- Make sure the salutation isn’t a show stopper!
Remember that famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire: “you had me at hello”? Well, your first two words – “Dear xxx” can have a huge impact on whether your postcard/letter or email are read or taken seriously. If you fumble the salutation, your member may never get to the part about how important he/she is or the amazing work your club has accomplished over the last year.
So, here are a few tips on getting the hello or welcome right:
- Never say “Dear Member” – remember it needs to be personal
- Dear [first name] – is probably best, but ensure your database has correct first names for all members so you don’t end up with a “Dear blank” or worse, “Dear first name”!
- Show me the benefits
Receiving your renewal letter or email may have your members thinking about another line from the Jerry Maguire movie: “show me the money”. When they receive your yearly renewal postcard/letter or email, they are automatically thinking “what has my club done for me lately?” They are thinking about the value of membership and the benefits you’ve provided. So you need to outline the benefits you offer. You know your club better than anyone. Tout it! Now’s the time.
- Make the Ask urgent and honest
This is a renewal postcard/letter or email, but you don’t want to jump right in and ask them to renew in the first line. However, once you’ve made a welcoming start, and reminded your member about the benefits of belonging, then you need to “make the ask”. Of course, even if they have scanned through your email or postcard/letter, your member is waiting for “the pitch”. So make it urgent and honest – ask them to renew their membership today. And tell them how they can do this quickly and easily.
- Make it easy for them to renew
You’ve convinced your member to renew – now be sure you make it easy for them to do so and right away! If you offer online service like MYiCLUBonline, provide instructions in your postcard/letter or a link in your email, so your member can act right away and easily renew. If you offer a variety of payment options, send them to the information via a direct link to your website.
- Don’t forget to say Thank-You and set the scene for the coming year
Your renewal postcard/letter or email offers an opportunity to outline the benefits of membership and acknowledge your member’s valued support. But it can also instill some excitement for the coming year – activities, programs or events made possible by their member dues or fees.
Use your closing as the opportunity to offer a genuine note of thanks to the member. If you can, customize the closing to suit the member type or the profile of the member so that it is warm and personal – offering up that emotional connection and a sense of membership value that reminds them why they became involved with your organization in the first place.
Club Marketing is here for all your marketing needs. Why not let us do all the work on your renewals for you? Call 1-866-992-8960 today. We will get started on personalizing your Renewal Program!