I was wrong. I had it wrong as a membership director. I spent 3 years thinking I had membership figured out. In 2002 I was at the top of my game as a membership director:
- I had great numbers at my Y
- My front desk staff was invested and passionate
- Membership was humming along like a well-oiled machine
- Retention was great
- My net membership numbers were in double and triple digits
Alicia Keys sang my theme song: “This girl was on fire!” This was at a suburban Y and I knew members like nobody’s business. I took my learnings and moved to a downtown urban branch and failed miserably. I tried all the things that worked at the suburban branch but they didn’t translate. Clearly my experience at the suburban branch did not prepare me for the animal that is a downtown urban branch. I was out of my element and was not doing well there. I couldn’t figure it out.
In looking back, I realize that I was clearly making decisions tailored to a suburban branch and clearly that didn’t translate to what urban members wanted and needed from the Y. Something that could have helped me adjust my decisions was data. I did not have the data I needed to make educated decisions. I did not have the data I needed to adjust my choices as a membership director. I could tell you my new member numbers, my terminated numbers and my retention rate for a 13-month period but it still did not paint the full picture for the solutions I needed.
I left that urban branch not knowing why I wasn’t able to make the impact that I did in my previous work. I am still haunted by my failure at that Y and often think about what our Downtown Y membership directors need to be successful.
One day I’m going to pull a whole bunch of data on downtown Ys, find the bright spots and go there. I am sure it has a lot to do with staffing and facility but I would like data to back that up.
Speaking of data! Daxko has been a data playground for me. As a former membership director I marvel at the data that I can get through Daxko Operations and Daxko Engage. I think I would have been able to make all kinds of better decisions with these systems. To be able to see how engaged a member is using over 80 different kinds of data points is awesome. That’s the kind of power Engage has and it’s the kind of information that should make any membership director’s heart happy.
What do we do with this information?
Engagement is the key. This idea isn’t new to any of us. I remember the Membership Guru Alice Sawyer and her first Y book on membership. The book centered around moving members from casual to connected to committed. Y professionals have always known that retention and campaign donations are all connected to higher member engagement. So why are we still talking about this? Well, clearly it’s not an easy nut to crack.
The great thing about the Daxko Engage software is that it allows you to target specific groups through the phone and e-mail (if you have that info on your members). This allows you to set up certain reminders or tasks for various staff to reach out via phone, e-mail or snail mail to members. Even better, you can utilize sophisticated services that are handled by Daxko marketing professionals. On top of the powerful data and capabilities of the software, our team will execute proven initiatives on your behalf.
Your Y could have a whole strategy around how to reach out to their low engage members. This way technology can be your engagement friend. You can even set an alert to e-mail you when a low engaged or critical member scans in! Can you imagine being able to walk up to a member – knowing they haven’t been in the facility for a while- and saying “Sally, we missed you! Welcome back.” And you know what she looks like because her picture is there on your screen!That’s powerful, real-time data.