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Renewal letters—the overlooked membership communications tool

Michael T. BrandtEvery association has them—membership renewal letters, either those sent with the renewal invoice or the “thank you” letter following receipt of the renewal. Often overlooked as part of our membership communications programs, they represent a golden opportunity to communicate directly with each member on a one-to-one basis. Few other membership communications tools offer the personal contact of a renewal letter—not the web site, not the newsletter, not e-mail promotion, not brochures.

Why do we see so many weak membership renewal letters? Perhaps there’s a lack of understanding of their value. Perhaps newsletters or web sites appear more glamorous and creative. Writing a good membership renewal letter is hard work and presents a challenge to an association membership director. But the rewards of improved member loyalty, participation, and satisfaction make the effort worthwhile.

Let’s take a look at one example of an actual renewal letter.

Dear Association Member:

Your membership renewal has been processed. Your membership certificate is enclosed and we encourage you to take advantage of your member benefits.

In today’s challenging times, you need to stay informed and on top of your game. The Association provides you with information and connects you with the people and programs that will help you achieve your business and career objectives.

The Association web site is a great resource featuring news about the association and includes a members-only section with industry studies, white papers, membership directory and more.

The Association is dedicated to helping you succeed. Contact us if we can be of service.

Regards,
Association Membership Chair

If you received this letter as an association member, how would you react? Does the association value your membership? Does it reinforce your buying decision by highlighting important specific benefits of being a member? Does it instill pride in the organization and make you want to belong? It’s cold. It’s aloof. It’s impersonal. And the organization didn’t even thank the member for renewing.

Let’s take a look at another example.

(1)Dear Michael Brandt:

(2) Thank you for renewing your membership in the Association. (3)As a member, you join with 5,000 other individuals who share your enthusiasm and commitment to your career and your profession. (4)Begun in 1922, the Association is dedicated to a collective goal—making your career a success.

(5)During the past year, your membership and participation has helped the Association

1. Increase your access to job-related information, resources, and white papers by doubling the number of publications in our resource library.

2. Initiate our first-ever professional certification program that can help identify and promote you as a qualified professional in your field.

3. Successfully lobby for legislation that more clearly defines the legal requirements of contracts that you may enter into with customers and clients.

(6)Attached below is your membership card. Keep it handy whenever you call about your membership. It also entitles you to discounts in our online store or catalog, just one the many benefits of being a member.

(8)If you have questions about your membership or benefits, please contact our Member Services Department at 1-800-555-5555 Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM Central Standard Time. Or you may send us an e-mail at memberservices@association.org or visit the member services section of the association web site www.association.org.

(9)Our members are the visible embodiment of our commitment to change and improvement. It is through your desire and dedication to your profession that the organization flourishes. Your membership means a good deal to us.

Sincerely,
Membership Chair

(1) The greeting is personalized. The member is important enough to be addressed by name. It helps set a tone of friendliness.

(2) A courteous and excellent start.

(3) Makes the member feel part of a significant organization.

(4) Reminds the member of the organization’s purpose in life and why the member joined.

(5) Recognizes the member as an important factor in organization and doubles as a reminder of some member benefits.

(6) Provides a concrete link between the member and the association.

(7) Another mention of a member benefit.

(8) The Association is available, approachable, and wants to be of service.

(9) The member is an important part of the Association.

(10) The Association values the member.

A well-written renewal letter reinforces the member’s buying decision. It establishes and promotes a professional and friendly relationship between the member and the Association. It sells the Association to the member. And it recognizes the importance of the member and the Association’s commitment to that member.

A similar approach can be adapted to cover letters sent with renewal invoices as well as letters welcoming new members.

Which organization would you like to join and continue as a member?

 

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