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Value Propositions, Innovation and Engagement Get People to Join/Renew

In my Q&A with Matt Bailey last week, I mentioned the exercise he had us all doing at BIMS one year: state your company’s definition—what-it’s-primarily-about—in six words. It really made you get rid of the excess language we tend to use, and think about your main revenue driver.
I recall that because in Marketing General’s 2020 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report (download here), they say the following: “The first and most noteworthy condition for membership success is understanding and building the value proposition for your membership. The data shows that members join for networking with others in the field, continuing education, accessing specialized information, and learning best practices in their profession.”

They also say that “only about half of [organizations] consider their value proposition to be very compelling or compelling (48%). On the other hand, 42% find their organization’s value proposition to be only somewhat compelling.

That’s a bit staggering and in need of change. They add that the organizations gaining members are the ones who say that they do have a compelling or very compelling value proposition—obvious but still worth noting.
Here are more highlights from the report.
Even now—or maybe especially now—it’s important to encourage innovation. “Our data shows that a culture of innovation is the critical driver for creating member value. “Try something new or you’ll plateau and decline,” one respondent said. Again, those who have seen member gains “are significantly more likely to have a process in place for innovation and new ideas” and vice versa.

Amplify these areas. We all talk about wanting greater interaction with our audience/members/community. Here are four areas where respondents are seeing it:

– the use of an organization’s mobile app;
– participation in social networks;
– webinar attendance; and
– participation in their young professionals programs.

Have a plan to engage. This is not a surprising one, but respondents have been consistent in sharing why they do not renew—a lack of engagement with the organization. “However, when associations establish an active program to engage members and increase their usage of benefits, membership retention increases. Almost 80% that have seen an improvement in renewals state that they have a tactical plan to increase engagement.”
Get people talking. By quite a large margin, word-of-mouth recommendations is the best channel for acquiring new members. Email is second but its numbers have gone slightly down. Events/meetings came in next but this was pre-pandemic.
Still have to try to facilitate networking. When asked for the top three reasons members join, 61% said “networking with others in the field.” Even on Zoom calls—as much as we all know that Zoom fatigue is real—you can see faces light up when they see people they haven’t seen in a while. And you can see the engagement they get from hearing colleagues talk about their experiences.
Stand for something. In that same category, 25% said “supporting the mission of the organization.” And another 21% said supporting advocacy. Learning best practices in the field is also a common denominator of those organizations that have experienced recent growth.
Offer toolkits. This came from one respondent: “Our largest source of new members comes from current members referring non-members to our organization. We provide toolkits, complete with links to resources, for our membership annually and encourage them to keep up the good work!”
Reach out and touch. One respondent wrote: “Personal touches make the most difference. The challenge is freeing staff from other tactics to make the calls and reach the members.”
Use your data. “We’ve modeled our prospects, scoring them with the likelihood to obtain our certification. This has allowed us significant savings on marketing costs after test results showed drastically higher response rates for the top scored prospects. There are so many fingerprints within data that people can use to identify the most likely to help meet the organization’s goals. Everyone should be tapping into this.”
Again, download the report here.

SourceMedia Rebrands as Arizent, Preps Launch of New Membership Business

Eighteen months after SourceMedia named Gemma Postlethwaite its new CEO, the financial information company today unveils a new name: Arizent.

The new brand is intended to convey the company mission of helping to raise up and advance the financial industry as well as professional services such as accounting and HR.

“We’ve been bringing employees and customers along on our journey for the past 18 months,” Postlethwaite tells Connectiv. “We asked, what do we look like on our best day? How do we unlock our value? There is no sense in changing the name just for the sake of it. The essence of our value proposition is how we unlock actionable insights and analysis for our communities, business growth for our customers and personal growth for our employees.”

Like many of its peers in B2B media and information, the former Source has long contended it’s no longer just a media company and the new name helps emphasize its focus on delivering interlocking content, research, networking and more to its audiences, while selling integrated programs across the collective DNA of its more than 40 brands that span live events, peer-to-peer-networks, subscription services and media.

“The term ‘media’ is no longer adequate to describe the breadth of our value proposition,” says chief strategy officer Jeff Mancini. “Our communities are no longer content to be just passive consumers of content. They are looking for a broad range of insights and analysis that spans research, live events and peer interaction. The same is true for our marketing clients. In order to sell integrated programs, you need to talk about what you do differently. The value we bring today is not just through an IAB standard banner or a 10×10 exhibit at an event.”

As part of the rebranding strategy, the team broke down the three pillars that defined the company, including,

Transformative Ideas. “SourceMedia’s editorial brands have always stood out – and won awards for – their independent authoritative journalism. By investing more in original research and analysis, we can go really deep into coverage of ideas that are disruptive and transformative, such as AI and technology, that are moving the financial services sector forward,” says Mancini.

Community. “We then rally leaders around those ideas,” says Mancini. “We have over 20 live events plus new peer-to-peer networks.”

Redefining Industry Standards. A roll-up of Arizent’s benchmark products, such The Most Powerful Women in Banking, Best Banks to Work For, Best Fintechs to Work For and Rising Stars. “All these programs are research-backed and represent what we believe is redefining the industry standard,” says Mancini.

Arizent to Launch New Leader Membership Network in March

One of the most significant new initiatives for Arizent will be the launch in March of a new leadership network that will build off the framework of the company’s 17-year-old Most Powerful Women in Banking Awards as well as other gender inclusion programs.

But rather than just offer networking opportunities for a single demographic, the new program will include leaders throughout the financial services industry and offer members access to exclusive content and research, as the group collectively advances a common goal, like greater gender diversity.

The network features a corporate membership structure that enables members to participate in year-round programming, which will culminate in the latter part of the year with the Most Powerful Women in Banking Awards as well as the launch of a new summit (the name will be announced later in the year).

“We will be working on tangible things, such as getting more women on boards, helping to solve the pipeline problem of getting new talent into financial services and the summit will be the moment when we bring the most senior members together to report on how we are doing,” says Postlethwaite.

Marketers will also be able to participate in the network, not to be in sell mode but to be “champions of change” by offering resources such as data and training to the group, according to Postlethwaite. “For example, an executive search firm can sponsor one of the board events but their duties will not just be to thank everyone for coming but to make sure that every woman leaves that meeting with her resume done,” she adds. “Those are the very practical, tangible deliverables that we are looking for.”

While Postlethwaite won’t reveal pricing for the new network, she says the program represents a completely new business for Arizent at a totally different price point than traditional B2B subscriptions or media. “This starts to deliver on the promise of a community,” says Postlethwaite. “If you actually look at what it takes to build a community, not everyone is doing that. This is what we stand for and why we matter.”

More Growth, Less Niche

Overall, Arizent is seeing significant growth in its subscriptions and events businesses. “We’re fortunate that we have sizeable subscription asset, we have a sizeable events business and we have a great media business,” says Postlethwaite. “Over the course of the last 18 months, the team has been elevating the conversation with our media clients and turning them into true solutions clients.”

Postlethwaite says Arizent will see significant revenue growth in 2020 and that growth will stem from a focus on a community-first approach. Where page views once ruled Arizent now expects to grow subscriptions, events and new community plays like the networks. From there, marketing services becomes more effective due to a quality over quantity engagement strategy.

“You can now show up in a newly defined community that’s much broader and less niche,” adds Postlethwaite. “If you’re in banking, you shouldn’t just be in American Banker, you should be in all our brands. That’s where the growth is on the media side.”

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How OPIS Used Video – and Story – to Sell Their RetailSuite

“Gas station owner Mike is struggling to keep up with the times, and not just in his wardrobe.”

Thus begins one of the many OPIS animated videos featuring Mike, here wearing a psychedelic shirt and headband. “Because Mike is comfortable doing things the way he’s always done them, he’s falling behind retail fuel price trends… Mike needs to understand how his direct competitors and the stations with the top brands in his region change their prices. Then use that data to capture market share during periods of price volatility.

“That’s when Mike’s assistant manager Mary had a suggestion. She recommended AnalyticsPro, one of the five components of the OPIS Retail Suite.”

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This 98-second marketing video is one of many in the OPIS RetailSuite Video Series starring the buyer persona (but not Oscar-nominated) “Mike the station manager.” Joining Mike on his journeys toward discovery are Bob his boss, rival station manager Matt (boo) and assistant manager Mary. It took all of about 20 seconds for me to fall in deep like with Mike and Mary, and apparently OPIS customers felt the same. This campaign helped produce 600+ closed sales in 2018, and drove a 17% YOY increase in sales revenue for the retail segment of OPIS business.

The video series also won a 2019 SIPAward for Best Use of Video in Marketing.

“In late 2017, OPIS (Oil Price Information Service) launched RetailSuite, an online platform with five tools to help convenience store operators and gas station owners sell more fuel and increase profits,” wrote Rick Wilkes, executive director of marketing for OPIS, in their winning entry. “To introduce this breakthrough product to the retail fuel market, we implemented a multi-channel marketing campaign to establish a product brand, build awareness of it and generate demo requests.

Video proved pivotal to the success of this campaign, and provided inspiration for spin-off activity in other channels. They created a series six “explainer” videos, including one overview and separate versions for each product module or tool.

“We used animation as the format, with ‘Mike the station manager’ as the main character and continuing thread connecting the series,” Wilkes wrote. “Each video showed in just 1-2 minutes how the individual components of RetailSuite helped Mike improve his business in an entertaining and easy-to-understand way.”

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In another video, Mike trains for a marathon and starts thinking about competition. That leads to “How to Grade Your Gas Station’s Profit Margin Performance With OPIS MarginPro. In another, Mike wants to expand his business and looks to “How to Increase Your Retail Gas Station’s Market Share With OPIS MarketShare Pro.”

“We posted these videos on the OPIS YouTube channel, and on the OPIS website (both product pages and the video library),” Wilkes continued.  “We promoted them via email (8 blasts) and social media (48 posts on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook). All of this activity combined to generate 5K+ views.”

In an age where all the editorial and marketing experts promote storytelling, Mike’s adventures and travails resonate strongly. In fact, in a previous talk at a SIPA conference, Wilkes spoke about where their authenticity comes from.

“We talked to our sales director and asked, ‘When one of your customers comes to our site, what are they going to want to know right away?’ ” he said. “What commodities we cover? Are they going to want to know about our market segments? He said, ‘No, they’re going to look for who they are. They’re going to say, I’m a retailer, I sell gas. What do you have for me?’ So what we tried to do is immediately show buyer personas, and a who-we-help section. You can see all these fuel chain personas and there are a lot of them.”

OPIS also showcased video in what Wilkes called “the single most offbeat—and lucrative—effort of the RetailSuite campaign”: a printed brochure with the overview video embedded inside. They mailed this piece to 91 high-potential prospects chosen by sales, providing reps with a memorable context for follow-up calls and emails. Early last year, that promotion had already generated 15 leads and four conversions with very little expense.

I can’t wait to see what Mike is up to next.