I was looking back at the 2018 ChamberMaster member survey and found a MASSIVE problem that…unfortunately…far too many Chambers and Associations are struggling to overcome. I believe that more than 50% of your dropped members from last year COULD have been saved, and I know how to do it!
Take a look at the survey page talking about Non-Renewals:
Sorry about the rotation…I can’t seem to fix that. But what CAN we fix? Well, let’s see. First of all, our staff disagrees with the members on why they left in the first place. That tells me a couple of things. It tells me that either our members have NO IDEA why they dropped their memberships, our STAFF has no clue why members really drop, or…perhaps…BOTH!
Here’s the thing…when our dropped members claim by 58% they failed to renew due to failure on a TRANSACTIONAL level, and 64% of the time, our STAFF thinks they dropped because of TRANSACTIONAL FAILURE (no value, no ROI, no engagement, no interest, no time to participate, no participation) as is revealed in the top three answers to the survey, WE AS AN ORGANIZATION HAVE FAILED.
Now…that seems harsh, but you’ve come to expect that from me by now, haven’t you? It IS harsh, but it IS fact!
Add in the number of “unsure”, “I don’t know” and “other” answers and those numbers above increase by roughly 10% each! That’s the VAST majority of your dropped members (67%-74% whichever way you look at it) falling into the exact same category, even though the survey breaks it up into multiple similar responses.
The problem and the solution are coming up. Are you ready? You’ve heard me preach for years now about TRANSACTIONAL value versus REAL value. Only about 8-12% of your members will EVER attend your networking functions. Fewer will pay for your marketing products and less still will be there for your ribbon-cuttings, and yet, as an industry, we’re putting 67% or more weight on transactional failure? That simply doesn’t make sense, ESPECIALLY when you compare that 8-12% participation rate with an overall retention rate in the mid 80’s to low 90’s.
So what’s REALLY going on here? Simple. Neither your members nor your staff really knows what it is we, as membership organizations, are selling our prospective members. Prospective members have NO IDEA what a Chamber of Commerce or Trade Association really DOES. They THINK that by joining they’ll get “RINGS“. They want the phone to ring, the doorbell to ring, the cash register to ring. They have been allowed, over time, to believe that we are the City’s Department of Ribbon-Cuttings & Networking Events. They really think we are going to act as an ad agency, a PR firm, a marketing agency, to help drive transactional business to them. How do I know this? Look at the survey! It tells you in the very first line! And I know that our staff is REINFORCING the idea by looking at THEIR responses to the same questions.
Take a look down towards the bottom of the survey and see how many drops came because the member was upset about a position we took regarding Issues, Advocacy, Legislative and/or Government Affairs. It’s ZERO! Now, that number is artificially low because MOST Associations and Chambers are spending FAR too little time, energy and effort on communicating the value proposition around actually BEING the voice for business in our communities, even though many of you actually have EXACTLY THAT PHRASE in your Mission Statements. We’re too concerned with being seen as “too political” or “too focused on large businesses” to tout our wins in the Issues and Advocacy arenas, but it’s those very wins we MUST begin talking about if we EVER hope to turn these numbers around.
Sell your organization as an ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ENGINE whose mission is making your community (geographic or industry-specific) a better place to live, work and play. Stop focusing on the transactional value we can’t prove, we can’t quantify and we can’t really affect in any significant way. Showcase your organization’s strength by effectively communicating the valuable role you play in bringing jobs to town, helping businesses to grow locally, developing the workforce of tomorrow, creating economic prosperity and so on to “Jay the Plumber” who doesn’t understand Economic Impact, Workforce Development, Skills Gaps and more. By doing so, you become an invaluable investment to the local business community, rather than a transactional commodity that members can toss aside if they don’t see an immediate and real ROI.
Finally, if you don’t know how to get started, call me. I want to help. I CAN help. If you want to talk about bringing me to town to help explain all of this to your Board, your staff, your members, your community, your elected officials…fill out the form below and let’s talk about how to make it happen. If I could help you seal off that leaky bucket…if I could have helped you retain just 10% of the folks you dropped last year…I promise you that would have generated enough revenue to bring me to town time and time again!
Fill out the form today, and lets fix the retention problem at your organization once and for all.