Nothing like a pandemic to turn your membership strategy and systems upside down, and require you to react in an instant.

“It’s always been done that way,” used to be a warning flag. It meant an organization was resistant to change, even if leaders knew deep down there might be a better way to acquire, fulfill and engage members.

Today that’s a nostalgic refrain. You’ve probably had to very quickly examine, rethink, and in some cases change every step in your membership marketing strategies and processes. Can you do it from home, move it to digital delivery, or find a new way to say it, do it, mean it?

Do you feel lucky?

Probably not right now, but when you look back on this period, you just may use that word.

If you had been given more time, you might have (eventually) made similar changes. Maybe it was messaging that deserved to be revisited, formats that didn’t really work as well as they used to, benefits that needed a fresh look. But with the pressing pandemic demands, you didn’t have the luxury of time. You had to go on instinct, and more than a little hope that your quick reaction changes didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. No time to test, so you had to trust your members to understand, and to go on the journey with you.

Congratulations. You figured it out.

Some things might feel a little cobbled together, maybe a few things aren’t getting done at all, and your team is likely lonesome for the office. But you did it.

But now, in this weird limbo that isn’t BC (Before COVID-19), but not quite AC (After COVID-19), you have a fantastic opportunity.

You can decide what reverts back to “That is How We USED To Do It.” But not necessarily in the same order. Or executed in the same way.

What lessons will you take from this challenging time?

To inspire your thinking, I’d like to share some perspectives from MCA’s Immersion process, developed over decades of helping organizations turn the prism and think a little differently about their membership strategies and practices. I wouldn’t liken an MCA Immersion to a pandemic, but there are a few (less painful) similarities.

  1. Dig deep. Explore your member journey, from acquisition through fulfillment, ancillary programs, content, retention and every single thing that touches a prospect/member/lapsed member.
  2. Get critical. What’s an “essential” service, and what do you do because it’s always been done that way? How long has it been since you’ve done an (objective) SWOT analysis?
  3. Look outside. Is someone else solving similar challenges in a way that you should consider?
  4. Listen. What do your members need, and have their needs changed since you developed your benefit portfolio?
  5. Step back. Ask yourself these really, really hard questions. Preferably while looking in the mirror so you see AND hear the answer:
    • If your organization didn’t exist today, could it be launched?
    • Are you good for your members?
    • Do you make them better?
  6. Make a list and prioritize your opportunities. Rank them by “do-ability” and resource requirements.
  7. Then begin. Nothing happens overnight. Give yourself time to change thoughtfully. Put in place careful testing, best-practice methods, authentic messaging, with the confidence that you ARE good for your members, and you DO make them better.

Time Well Spent? Most Certainly.

Clients who have gone through our MCA Immersion say it was hard work, but worth it in the long run. They knew themselves better and were more confident that their processes were on the mark. They came away with a better sense of what their members thought of them, wanted from them, and how they were delivering value. They learned where their soft spots were, and what needed to evolve.

It’s a strange time, but one in which we have an extraordinary opportunity to realize we really ARE lucky. You can – and will – step through stronger, more in touch with your members, and as better stewards of your resources.

More On This Topic