Below is a list of the high-level initiatives we either have done or are currently doing to help recruit new members. It's important to note, our current budget confines what we can do to some degree (unfortunately we don't have a Good Sam advertising budget). While it still needs to be approved, the Executive Board has graciously granted me a higher advertising budget for fiscal year 2021, which will help tremendously.
All the following efforts attempt to illustrate the value of an FMCA membership. FMCAssist is undoubtedly a great benefit, but it does not appeal to everyone equally and we must be careful to ensure our other great benefits do not fall by the wayside. Furthermore, and as you will see below, our message is being delivered in a variety of ways because that is how people consume information this day and age. Speaking to a couple or small group of people at an RV show or seminar is not an accurate representation of all RVers and does not adequately cast a “wide enough net” to speak to the RVing community.
• We send a 4-part series to prospective members. Prospective members’ email addresses are gathered by a variety of methods: those who want a tire quote but are not yet members, those who want to download our towing guide, from RV shows – both FMCA events and others, through Facebook ads, through purchased lists, those with a free FMCA Forums account, etc.
• Effort 1 promotes the top 5 benefits of FMCA, including FMCAssist as a numerical value and the fact it is INCLUDED with your membership.
• Effort 2 promotes the community attributes of FMCA and the countless resources available to FMCA members.
• Effort 3 promotes the “2nd tier” benefits of FMCA – i.e. those benefits not considered on the top 5, but still bringing value to the membership.
• Effort 4 speaks to our multitude of educational opportunities.
• We send an onboarding series to new members and a “reboarding” series to members who have just renewed. The onboarding series is a series of emails sent every other week (total of 10) to help members learn about the benefits of FMCA and attempt to clear up any confusion that may exist. It also includes a survey in which they can ask us questions about anything as well as 2 surveys to provide us feedback on the things we are doing well, can improve upon, their understanding of the benefits, and so on. The emails in the onboarding series are similar in nature to the prospect series but go into greater detail about either a single benefit or a select group of benefits. The reboarding series is the same as the onboarding series minus the initial welcome email in the onboarding series.
• Over the years, we have tried [literally] several hundred variations of digital ads on Facebook, Google, Bing, Pinterest, RVillage, and numerous other digital platforms. We have found that ads promoting one specific benefit (FMCAssist, Tires, Roadside, Magazine, etc.) have not performed well. We have seen much better success when we promote FMCA membership as a whole. Digital ads provide the most far-reaching and economical approach given the advertising budget we must work with. We have, and continue to, tinker with ads as well as different age demographics, different regions of the country, different RV types, etc. Digital ads, while they can be effective, also present challenges. Often you have space or character limits, so the message must be short and sweet while also enticing enough for someone to click on the add. Once they click the add they are taken to a landing page where they can learn more. Information comes so fast and abundant these days, and people have such short attention spans, it can be a challenge to adequately explain the true value of a nuanced benefit like FMCAssist or go into great detail about the steps involved to use the tire program, to give you a couple examples.
• Over the last year or so, we have moved away from purchasing print ads. We do not see the ROI like we do with digital advertising. We do still however, trade print ads and have found the results to be like those of digital ads – i.e. touting a specific benefit has not performed as well as promoting an FMCA membership in its entirety.
• We attend most of the major RV shows. As many of you know, when you have the time and an attentive audience to explain in detail the value of FMCAssist, they see the value. The problem, however, is the limited reach RV shows provide. For a 4-day show, for example, how many visitors do we have at the FMCA booth? 100, maybe a little more on a good day. Compare that to the cost to attend that show. On average, the cost per acquisition for an RV show is well over $60. Compare that to the average cost per acquisition for a digital campaign, which is around $15. That is not to say RV shows do not have value too. They bring a level of exposure that is difficult to quantify. That’s why, even if we are unable to attend an RV show (usually the smaller ones) we have tried to at least have a presence – such as an ad in the program, donating a door prize, or a sponsorship.
• We encourage and incentivize members to spread the word and help recruit new members and try to provide the resources available to make it easy – the Member Recruitment page. We have run different promotions to try to entice peer-to-peer recruitment, such as being entered to win a $100 VISA gift card for recruiting a new member(s). Most of those have had mediocre results. Again, peer-to-peer recruitment has value, but like the RV shows it does not reach a large segment of RVers when the majority of FMCA members have no interest in recruiting.
• We have arrangements and partnerships with companies like Grand Design, KOA, RV Trader, Passport America, Harvest Hosts and continue to try and add more partnerships. These partnerships generally involve messages being sent on FMCA’s behalf. Messages that again tout specific benefits as well as the entire membership as well as providing blog content and anything we can do to help increase exposure for FMCA on their platforms and to their audiences.
• Similarly, we currently work with “social media influencers”. These are people (many of them younger) who have a digital presence in the RV space – be it social media, blogs, podcasts, or all the above. While we have not struck an agreement with all of them, we have had conversations with over 75 “influencers” and are always trying to recruit more.
• We are working with Affiliate partners as well (note: there is some overlap between our affiliate partners and social media influencers that we work with). Affiliate partners are, again, folks with a social media presence who tout the benefits of FMCA; the difference being we pay them $10 for any new member who joins FMCA and uses the affiliate’s unique promo code (for tracking). Currently we have 15 active affiliate partners and are always trying to recruit more.
• We have, and will continue to, attempt to bring more RV dealers to participate in the complimentary membership program (COMP) in exchange for discounted advertising. The COMP program is a great way to get in front of new RV buyers who may be overwhelmed with all there is to learn. The challenge is, the message is not always being delivered by us, so you could have a sales person who says the wrong thing, doesn’t sell it well, or is simply not interested in promoting the program because he/she is more focused on the sale of the actual RV. Much like our member recruitment initiative we do our best to help shape the message and provided resources where needed.
• We created The Mile Marker (monthly e-newsletter) and Tech Talk (quarterly tech-centric newsletter). We have both a member version and a prospect version – the prospect version includes offers to join. The Mile Marker is more lifestyle-oriented while Tech Talk is related to the technical side of RVing. Both provide fun and rich content an provide opportunities to teach both existing and prospective members about the benefits of FMCA.
• We recently added the Benefits of Belonging campaign to Family RVing magazine. Each month there is a 2-page, eye-catching spread in the magazine that shows in-depth the value that particular benefit brings to an FMCA membership.
•Direct Mail campaign to 20,000+ RV prospects. Includes two postcard efforts and a digital advertising effort running alongside with FMCAssist as a leading benefit.
• We have been guests on multiple podcasts to help spread the word.
• We have sent press releases touting the benefits of FMCAssist/FMCA and that we now allow all RV types
• Will continue our ongoing efforts to survey all members to gain insights into their needs, wants, values, etc.
I could go on, but hopefully this answers your question and gives you an idea of the different initiatived we have undertaken. Not bad for a marketing department of 2, but obviously I'm biased 😉