The following is a guest post from Lynda Baldwin at Communication Strategies Group, Inc., an award-winning communications firm based in Chicago, Illinois.
Moose? Who’s heard of Moose? Well, as it turns out, quite a few people have. In fact, 1.1 million men and women are currently members. But like many other membership-based organizations, the Moose often finds itself riding through the peaks and valleys of member recruitment. Generally, its membership drive relies on existing members sticking around year after year and reaching out to recruit their friends to join, too.
While this has proven effective on a grassroots basis, it’s not necessarily the most effective membership-recruitment approach at the macro level.
Enter Heard of Moose? (www.heardofmoose.org) This pilot public education campaign is the first of its kind for the Moose, and it was no small task. It incorporates paid advertising in the Tampa market – encompassing buses, bus shelters, billboards, online and newspapers – public relations; social media AND grassroots marketing. And while there may not be a magic bullet for effective recruitment outreach, we’ve identified a few commonalities that you might want to consider before launching your next campaign.
- Get your Board…on board.
Start at the top – don’t just get approval, build excitement! Beyond their initial approval of the financial investment, gauge their interest, rally for their support and get them involved. It took us about one full year – and many Powerpoint presentations – to get the Board to green light Heard of Moose?
- Assume nothing.
Without a doubt, THE most important step in any membership recruitment campaign is determining your existing reputation. Throw away any preconceived notions of what you THINK your audience believes. Hearsay can only go so far. Does your target audience actually know what your organization does? Do they think your organization is worth their investment? Is it relevant? Even with a limited budget, our research uncovered many existing perceptions which impacted Heard of Moose?
- Get friendly with your audience.
Now is the time to study your target audience. Gender? Age? Income level? Social media use? Connection to your mission? Demographics play a key role in recruiting members. As organizations increasingly “compete” for time and resources, it’s important to consider the realities of your potential members. The Moose has since restructured part of its membership program to build greater emphasis on its “at-large” membership option—a more flexible, general approach to its traditional structure.
- Take the plunge.
If you’re launching a recruitment campaign, don’t tip your toe in the water; dive right in. Effective campaigns require an investment of time, energy, and of course, dollars. On average, it takes seven “touch points” for a person to notice and connect with an advertisement. Saturating a market with clear, consistent messages for a defined period of time will undoubtedly increase success. The Heard of Moose ads use the same four images, the same color scheme, the same font, and even the same call to action (“go to HeardOfMoose.org”) in every placement, whether it be an online banner, a billboard, a newspaper ad or a bus.
- Measure once, in many ways.
How will your organization know if its goals are met? Has there been an increase in new member applications? Increased engagement from existing members? Increased media attention? Conversations on social media platforms? A diverse set of metrics more accurately defines campaign success, rather than simply looking at the number of new people joining your organization. Levels of awareness and knowledge are difficult to attach metrics, so a balance between numeric-based results paired with testimonials (e.g., email responses, Facebook comments, etc.) is vital. As Heard of Moose? unfolds, tracking and reporting continue to play key roles in measurement.
The Moose strives to get its message out as an organization based on service to youth, elderly, and its communities, in a changing society. This pilot campaign is testing the waters and setting new standards, not only for the Moose, but for other membership-based organizations as well.
Lynda Baldwin is a principal at Communication Strategies Group, Inc., an award-winning communications firm representing clients across industries from Moose International to Girl Scouts, from multi-tiered health systems to professional service firms. CSG provides strategic communications counsel and support to achieve clients’ business goals. For more information go to www.communication-strategies.com.
Moose International, an international organization of roughly 1.1 million men and women, is dedicated to caring for the young and old, bringing communities closer together and celebrating life. The men and women of the Moose conduct community service programs valued between $75 million and $100 million annually throughout North America.