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How a Counterintuitive Renewal Strategy Had Surprising Results for a Membership Organization

A novel approach to membership renewal strategy.
Learn how a strategic, direct, and somewhat surprising membership renewal strategy paid off for this once-reluctant client.

“You guys send too many renewal notices.”

Every member service team in every environment that has a renewal program has heard that refrain. Over and over again.

Why do we send so many print and digital renewal notices? The answer is simple: every time we send one, people renew. And you need to keep sending them until it isn’t cost-effective.

Ask early. Ask often.

A good renewal program starts as early as 180 days prior to expire and continues well past expire. Every 30-45 days, we’re reminding members that it’s time to pay their dues.

But … there are always those long-term, loyal members who know when their membership expires and they aren’t going to renew a minute before (or after). They make a compelling argument – “Look at my history. You see that I renew every year, and I do it right on time. Can’t you just stop sending me so many notices?”

For one client, the answer had always been “sadly, no.” It’s just not feasible to pick through the hundreds of thousands of members to find those honest souls who want to save the organization money, but are absolutely, positively, never going to renew early. Nor are they going to jump on the auto-renew bandwagon, upgrade to life member, or pay for multiple years. It’s not a money thing, it’s just the way they are.

Each time we spend time with MCA, it’s like a supercharged shot of strategic energy. So often, in our day-to-day execution of acquisition, retention, fulfillment, and service tactics, we get lost in the weeds, and it takes a knowledgeable and experienced group like MCA to raise us up from the tall grass of 'business as usual' and look at the big picture.”
Mike D —
Professional Association – Executive

So why not give them a chance to prove themselves?

We helped the client brand the program with a name that in their parlance means, “Take an Action NOW.” It was described as a “You asked for it, you got it” service, with a one-chance rule: You’ll get one notice. That’s all, and if you fail to renew promptly, your membership will lapse and you will go back in the “Ask early, ask often” bucket. We didn’t ask them to sign in blood or pinky swear, but the obligation was clear: “You’re promising to do what you say you’ll do: Renew.”

Member service loved it. It gave them something positive to say to the complainers, and a way to say “I believe you” when someone said they would follow the one-chance rule.

How did it work? People who participate in this one-notice program renew equivalent to on-time renewals who receive multiple notices. In our estimation, that’s a HUGE win. Much less cost to the organization, and a big gold star in the category of “Active Listening.” 

Are you listening to your members? Do you trust them?

If you’d like to know more about this program, or how to turn an active listening exercise into a member service win, give us a call.