by Frank Kenny
Wouldn’t you love to mail out a sales letter that brought in new members like magic? A single sales letter that convinces prospects to immediately pull out their wallets and buy?
I get asked for this sales letter often in my Chamber Pros Community Facebook group. I would love to give it to them, but, alas for the chamber and association worlds, no magic letter exists.
And that is for good reason.
Sending out a single sales letter to strangers is simply not an effective way to bring in new members. To understand why, imagine a prospect who may be open to joining. You walk up to this busy stranger and pitch membership in your organization.
Well, they don’t know you from Adam, and they are not going to be receptive to a sales pitch, no matter what you are selling. The interruption would be unwelcomed and would rarely generate a sale.
A sales letter arriving in the mail has a similar effect. It’s viewed as an unsolicited interruption. Rather than closing a sale, it will probably go straight into the garbage, no matter how good the pitch.
Now, picture a different scenario. You set up a meeting after a relationship has been established with the prospect. Maybe you are in Rotary together or attend the same church where you know each other socially. Whatever the origins of the relationship, the membership sales pitch is much more likely to produce a sale since the prospect already knows, likes, and trusts you.
The problem with the above scenario is that it just doesn’t scale very well. You only have so much time in the day, and you only know so many prospects that already know, like, and trust you. It takes time to build relationships, so this approach just doesn’t work for the numbers.
Online marketing scales.
With online marketing, you can have dozens or even hundreds of prospects that know, like, and trust you in your pipeline or funnel. Here’s how the process works:
Using an online form, collect contact info from the prospect. Once you have their name and email address, along with permission to email them, they become a lead. You can get this contact info and permission in many ways, including using lead magnets, subscription boxes, and lead ads.
Once you have contact info, welcome them to your email list and introduce yourself. Do this through a series of three friendly and personable emails sent over the course of a week. Tell them what problems you solve and who you help (hint: people like them). Don’t try to sell. Just inform them of what you do for your members. Try to put a smile on their face as they read how you are in their corner and are working to make people like them more successful.
This process builds a relationship with the lead. They come to know who you are, like you because you solve their business problems, and trust you because you took the time to nurture the relationship (and possibly provide a testimonial or two).
Then, over the next week, send a series of three emails with an offer of membership and ask for the sale.
The first email explains what they will gain by joining your organization. Do they gain status as a member? Will they have access to exclusive resources? Will they get to connect with industry colleagues? Explain what they will gain if they accept the offer. Ask for the sale.
The second email explains why it makes good business sense to be a member of your organization. Point out the return on investment (ROI), money-saving opportunities, ability to receive continuing education credits (or other professional development opportunities) cheaply and easily, and additional compelling reasons for being a member. Explain the offer and ask for the sale again.
The third email is based on scarcity and fear of missing out. This is the email that will produce the most sales. People procrastinate. This email provides them with a deadline for joining. If they want what’s in the offer, they must join now. Explain that a bonus will be removed or that the price is going up. If possible, close the window on the enrollment period so they must join now, or they will miss out on the benefits.
Use marketing automation to make sending the welcome email sequence and sales series quick and easy. You will find that this process brings in new members in a way that scales. On any given day you can have multiple leads moving through this sales and marketing process. That’s a much more scalable and effective approach than trying to build a relationship in person with that many people.
Over the past ten years, Frank has helped hundreds of chambers reach their goals with staff and member training, strategic planning, board retreats and orientations, social media, digital marketing, technology, and more.