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Member Recruitment Gone Wrong

On January 6th, a professional association in the scientific industry sent a direct mail piece to recruit new members.  The offer was actually quite good – before the deadline, you could join the association at 50% off the membership fee, with a free conference registration.  Since they are an organization offering corporate memberships, the savings were potentially over $2,000.  The piece was designed well, and captured attention.

Unfortunately, they either purchased a list from an online source, or have had this list for quite some time, and never removed records that did not have potential.  Why?

  • First off, my colleague got the offer.  Not only does our company have no potential for membership, but we also never would have as individuals in our past careers.  The direct mail piece was addressed to my colleague who spent her career in hospitality sales & marketing.  
  • Our contact information was not correctly inputted, with minor spelling mistakes in our company name, and her last name was WAY off.  
  • On top of all of this, we received this on January 6th, and as of today, there has been no follow up.  

I cringe at the thought of how many people they mailed this to, addressing it to the wrong people, the wrong company type for their target market, and the investment spent to print pieces being sent to a really bad list.  Not to mention the fact that the lack of follow up does not really make a prospect believe you want their business.  It comes across as junk!

Why would any professional organization risk being seen in this light?  It sounds like desperation marketing...

What could be done differently to boost your ROI on recruitment efforts?

  • Create a Unique Strategy:  What we are finding (and have found for years) is that not only does it take a unique strategy and marketing plan to get the return you want on any recruitment efforts, that the quality of the data you have on non-members is as crucial to your efforts as the beauty of the marketing piece.  This mailing was appealing, but was likely driven by the same type of marketing plan geared towards current members.  When it is time for renewal, they send a notice.  Little follow up is done, and membership numbers remain relatively the same, or drop as a result.
  • Work from a Clean List:  B2B research has shown that in any given year, data can become obsolete at a rate of 30% per year or more.  The ratio really depends on your member demographic.  For example, in the hotel industry, sales & marketing managers can change properties quite frequently, even multiple times per year.  However, if they are physicians, perhaps their turn-over ratio is not as significant.  No matter the turn-over rate in your industry, a clean list is a smart first step to any and all marketing programs.  
  • Follow Up!:  Sigh….It always amazes me that those spending thousands of dollars creating a really smart, visually appealing piece with a clear call to action, that contains contact information of not only the association, but the member services representative, and they literally did nothing to help build the relationship afterwards.

How do your recruitment efforts differ from other marketing?  Have you built in the right strategy to increase your ROI?