Membership recruitment is a tough game. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to increase fans of your sports team, members of your PTA association or members of your networking group or business club. It’s a tough old slog. And it is continuous.

There is a shelf life on any single member of any organisation. They can leave the membership fold (and regularly do) for any number of reasons. Monetary changes, new interests, moving away, retirement etc.

If you do not have a continuous strategy for growth and to replace the members who move on your membership programme will get stale and cease to exist very quickly.

On paper it seems like a great arm to your business. Most sports teams have membership organisations that help to boost and generate recurrent and consistent income as do many charities and businesses. It’s a simple way of generating income and support. In many business models the investment is small but the membership numbers are high which works BRILLIANTLY if you consistently maintain and grow your members.

In many, many sports teams I have worked with in the past there has been little to no strategy for not only the growth of their membership (season tickets for example) nor has their been a strategy to replace any members who may be moving on.

You cannot rely on the customers and members you already have if you want to be successful.

Yes you have to look after your current members and customers (but that’s for another blog) but you have to put a strategy in place to maintain it and to keep it growing.

These are the tried and tested steps we use in our membership/bums on seats growth programmes.

Use the Escalator– My first tip would be that you have to establish the path your members will follow. In sport many people use the escalator analogy. Your potential fan begins their journey with your sports team at the very bottom of the escalator. They’re not invested. They’re certainly not committed. They’re just a bit…interested. Interested enough to come through the door.  And that is great. You get them through the door but where do they go after that and how do they move up the escalator? How many steps on the escalator are there? This is entirely bespoke to you but in sport it often looks something like this:

One off promotion > Follow Up promo > Second follow up > regular purchaser >season ticket holder> advocate and investor

Your goal and strategy is to always be moving people on to (and up) the escalator.

How many steps would be on your escalator?

Understand your member – What does your ideal member look like? Is is a family? SME business? Large corporate organisation? Are you all things to all people? If you don’t know what your ideal member looks like you will not find them just hanging around on the corner of the street. And you definitely can’t market to them.

Numbers Game – It sounds so simple but you’d be surprised how many times I have helped to unravel this for clients. It is a numbers game so once you know who your ideal member is likely to be you need to find out where they hang out. Online and otherwise. Get the information in front of as many as possible to get them on the bottom step of the escalator.

Breakdown your targets – Sometimes when you have a big number to hit of new members/bums on seats it can become overwhelming. How the hell am I going to get that many people signed up? You need to break your big figure down. And work backwards. If your figure is 200 people look at your target groups you’ve selected. Which of those groups may give you biggest return. Assign the biggest portion of your target to that group. And so on. You need to see the wood for the trees

Simplify the process – How easy is it to become a member or get onto that bottom rung? Your potential new member gets the juice carrot to entice them to find out more…how easy is it to go from ‘Im interested, clicking link thingy now’ to ‘I’m in’ ? Keep it simple. If the potential member has to jump through ten hoops they wont pull the trigger and get on the bottom step.

Cost – Get your cost right. Too high your target market may not be able to afford it, too low and people might not think it’s worth it. Many sports teams do free to begin with but that often affects the perception of the value of your organisation. Tread carefully on steps 1,2 and 3 to get the right people on the stairs

Add Value – Once they’re in they need to IMMEDIATELY see the value. I always say with the sports teams I work with that the experience starts when they book the ticket. It isn’t enough to give a new family a cheap ticket and that’s it. You need to add some value. Make them want to come back. Offer a goodie bag, give them something free. Make it memorable. Make your membership scheme really give something tangible BACK to the members.

Shout about it – Utilise all the channels available to you to shout about what it is you do. Marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It is all about numbers, awareness and consistency. Getting your product/offer/incentive/free trial/promo in front of your target audience. We wrote a blog about some low budget and free marketing ideas here

Ask for referrals – Not many are better sales people for you than people who are already invested and on the top step of the escalator. Ask your members for referrals and recommendations. Operate a referrals and incentive programme.

Follow Up – I said it earlier but it isn’t enough to give a cheap ticket or a freebie away to your membership programme. Steps 2 and 3 are the MOST important. Did they have a nice time. Did they enjoy the free trial? Would they like to extend their trial for another two weeks? Would they like to have another discounted ticket which is slightly more than the first one they had. Keep up the dialogue

Eat, sleep eat repeat – I said it right at the very top. It’s a hard slog but consistency is key. I have seen far too many organisations who smashed the launch of their membership programme but little by little, year by year numbers have dwindled. You need to KEEP at it. Every week. If you wait until your numbers are so low that you have to panic market without a strategy that is a recipe for disaster.

Just keep moving people up those stairs

We operate bespoke strategy days and offer foolproof plans and consultancy sessions on the really intricate details and methods to grow your numbers whatever your business may be. If you need to consistently keep your numbers high we have the strategy to help

Give us a call 07887552888 or drop us a line




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