Conducting exit interviews, sending out emails asking why someone didn’t renew, these are all good ways to get a feel for the causes of your retention problems. But the real answer for most associations is “They just weren’t that into you.”
Most of the time, it’s no fault of your own. We know you’re fabulous. The members just didn’t take the time to get to know you. If they did, they surely would’ve realized all the great things you offer and they’d have renewed. How do you get them to give you a chance?
You Can’t Do it as They Back Down the Driveway
No relationship can be saved (permanently) when the member is walking out on you. Retention starts way before that renewal letter/email is sent. It starts the day they join.
Personal Attention is Aces
I belong to a great membership organization. I’ve referred many people to them. They are excellent communicators, sending multiple emails keeping me up-to-date on their marvelous events. Yet next month my membership is up and I’m on the fence about renewing.
It’s not them. It’s me.
I joined them when I first started my business, hoping to network. I went to an event, talked with many people, and got a few leads. Nine months later, I have plenty of work so much so that it is difficult to find time for networking. So why renew?
In something akin to mindreading, the CEO of the group reached out to me with a personal message. She linked up to me on social media. Suddenly, I’m no longer the girl on the sidelines at the dance wondering if she’d just rather go home. I’m feeling valued in a personal sense. Will it be enough to get me to renew, not sure yet, but it’s much harder to say no to someone who shows an interest in you. We’re all just a little self-centered that way.
This is another reason why networking is not enough of a draw for members. Telling them they’ll meet like-minded professionals only entices them if they are interested in that sort of thing. Associations must (and do) offer so much more than that.
How Much is Too Much?
Some say that 97% of your members should renew. If they don’t, you’ve failed. But sometimes the amount of effort and time it would take to prove your value to them over and over to the point they renew, doesn’t scale.
Sometimes you have to understand that your return on that membership is not worth the investment. There’s a line that once passed – as far as time and resources are concerned – means you’re just not getting value. Knowing where your association’s line is, is important in managing your limited resources.
You Can Only Do So Much
Every relationship is comprised of two people. In this case it’s your association and the member. You can’t make them love you. You can only show (not tell) them how wonderful you are and hope they’ll take the time to discover it on their own.