Why We Stopped Posting Membership Rates On Our WebsiteTuesday, January 20, 2015
Chief Marketing & Membership Officer
Mandel JCC of Cleveland
As news of our growth over the last few years has traveled, I have been getting calls from marketing colleagues from around the country to find out “what we’re doing right in Cleveland.” When I get these calls a part of me wants to dazzle them with sophisticated marketing concepts, impress them with cutting edge SEM tactics and wow them with brilliant social media strategies. But truth be told, any success we’ve experienced has far more to do with the strong marketing and membership team we’ve assembled than any one thing I or anyone else have done.
Getting everyone on our team to row in the same direction, to understand how interconnected we all are and how important a role each one of us plays may not be cutting edge but it’s made all the difference. I’ve been reading a book by Simon Sinek called Leaders Eat Last - Why some teams pull together and others don’t. As Sinek says, “When people have to manage dangers inside the organization, the organization itself becomes less able to face dangers from outside.” Sinek goes on to write, “As much as we’d like to think that it is our smarts that get us ahead, it is not everything…it is our ability to cooperate that actually helps us get …things done. Nothing of real value on this earth was built by one person without the help of others...”
But alas this isn’t a leadership blog and it’s definitely not a cooking blog so let me give you an example of a small thing that we’ve wrestled with that’s ultimately made a significant difference to our business. It’s about our philosophy on posting our rates online. For many years we went back and forth between posting and not posting our membership fees online; each option having merit.
These days, it seems that no one, and I mean no one, prefers to pick up the phone and talk to anyone anymore. They/we/I would all prefer to get our information online or via an email or text or by any other means possible rather than pick up a phone, sit on hold and risk getting the run-around or worse. So when we didn’t publish our rates online, visitors to our site were frustrated or may have presumed—incorrectly--our membership fees were very expensive.
But when we did publish our fees on our website, as many of our colleagues do, the number of membership inquiry calls declined—substantially. That meant we didn’t have the chance to capture prospect contact info, engage and sell prospects on our amazing facility and services or entice callers to come in for a tour.
To make matters worse, while our fitness and aquatics facilities are open 362 days a year, our membership desk closes early on Friday and remains closed all day Saturday. So if someone did happen to call our membership sales desk on a Friday at 5 pm, for example, to inquire about our rates, they would be automatically forwarded to voice mail and if they left a message, they might not get a response until Sunday or even Monday. So much for the “ease of doing business” model. By not posting our prices we were inadvertently frustrating and possibly losing a whole slew of potential members.
Then a few years ago we stumbled on a solution that was so deceptively simple but it has altered the course of nearly everything we do in membership and marketing. It’s also resolved the “do we or don’t we post prices” question once and for all.
We decided to make our rates for membership and camps available online—but only to visitors to our site who took the simple action of submitting a form. Once they provided us with their email address, we rewarded them with our price information.
Originally we just posted a line CLICK HERE to see our rates. Then somewhere along the line we jazzed it up and added a button on our home page:
And this button appears all over our website as do its first and second cousins:
So when prospective members or camp registrants, for example, come to our site and click any of these buttons they are directed to a form that upon completion within seconds a bounce back email arrives in their in box with complete details about our prices, enrollment fees and special offers, etc.
As you can see, the form above only asks for a name, email address and phone number. Of course there’s a lot more we’d like to know about these people, but it follows that the less intrusive the form, the more likely people are to fill it out, so unlike this blog, we’ve kept it very simple.
Now visitors to our site can receive our fees and enrollment fee specials any time of day 365 days a year, regardless of whether we’re open or our membership desk is staffed. Just that alone would be cause for celebration, but the real beauty of these forms is that they have allowed us, with Accrisoft’s help, to capture a powerful database of leads. Over time our email database of leads, members, lapsed members prospects etc., has grown to over 25,000 email addresses. And we use this powerful database to market nearly everything we do, from membership promotions to filmfest screenings.
If you are awake and still reading, you might appreciate seeing the fruit of our labors. Below is an example of leads we’ve generated over the last few days:
Not particularly state-of-the-art or sophisticated, but for us it’s been a game changer.