Author: Sari Inger Bouvet, Senior Marketing Associate at Direct Approach Design & Marketing
Creative design agencies vary widely in size and scope and cater for different kinds of companies and their customers – and this is key for membership managers to understand especially when looking to appoint and work with an agency to retain and grow their members.
The creative work agencies present is often regarded as subjective, but is always considered and professionally executed, and more often than not, has received strategic input from the agency’s own marketing professionals (often at no additional cost) to ensure that the solution proposed fits the brief.
An investment in the services of an outsourced creative design and marketing agency will yield multiple benefits for professional associations – assuming the relationship is a good fit in the first place. They provide a valuable resource for any organisation looking to increase their customer base or retain members by providing fresh, intelligent and objective thinking; and they bring together people and processes with expertise in a wide array of communication fields that can complement a client’s in-house capabilities, as well as their experience of effective membership development.
After all, agencies employ experts in many creative fields to provide quality, professional services to a company requiring an innovative approach, an expert eye and hand in delivering their communications – resources often not found in house. All too often, organisations rely on in house services to churn out the same staid message because it is believed that is what members are used to seeing and understand. How wrong they are. In a time poor world, creative stand out, clear messaging and ease of renewal are critical.
Adding value takes many forms – not just in member benefits
One of our long standing clients, William Reed Business Media, (an established B2B publisher) successfully retains subscribers and achieves the required number of attendees at its events, by continually adding value to their members.
Their approach is quite unique in this industry as they have embraced the tools of the digital age, while retaining the creative and tangible deliverables of direct mail. This multi-channel approach is essential as their members have personal preferences regarding how they like to receive information; a one-size fits all approach is no longer viable as a means to engage members. Equally timing, relevance and personalisation have proved essential in building brand loyalty and retaining, as well as acquiring, members.
Personalisation has been taken to a whole new level with the publisher segmenting their database into industry sectors and tailoring the content accordingly. In addition, RSS feeds and links within a series of timely emails, each highlighting a specific benefit, direct recipients to a personalised URL that features news and advice pertinent to their job and industry.
Furthermore, their personalised page features a pre-completed order form (within the online shop) to permit visitors to begin their membership as easily and as quickly as possible. It’s all about the customer journey and using as few clicks as possible to create a positive experience for the user.
Janine Ramsay, Marketing Manager at WRBM said: “Outsourcing the creative to specialist agencies has proven a win-win for us and our members. We have saved money and received an incredible uplift in membership renewals as a result of our multi-channel approach and the exceptional creativity delivered by our agencies. They have literally ‘spiced up’ our communications to appeal to our customers on their terms and at a level of personalisation that has inspired rather than deterred them to join The Grocer Membership”.
Working with WRBM is just one example of an organisation that has taken the leap from in-house to out-of-house to inject a new lease of life into a previously conservative suite of member communications; and professional associations need to invest in quality CRM systems in order to embrace the new channels and media available to them, starting with the relationship they have with their agency.
Contact Sari: firstname.lastname@example.org
Direct Approach, a MemberWise Recognised Supplier, is a graphic design agency that undertakes each project in equal measures of intelligence and creativity. Direct Approach provides the strategic thinking behind your marketing communications. With a background rooted in publishing, direct mail and response driven campaign management, they are ideally positioned to help professional organisations engage with their members and stakeholders, whether communicating with existing members or reaching out to new ones.