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Lost member reactivation – Case study: Zoos Victoria by Kevin Cahalane

By Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News No Comments

In March 2011, Eamonn Verberne (Membership Manager, Zoos Victoria) and I held some in-depth discussions to look at the best ways to entice lost members back to Zoos Victoria (www.zoo.org.au), a deeply committed wildlife conservation organisation.

Reasons why people left after one year included … a tick on the list of ‘100 things to do in my life’ or a one off family trip – visit the three Zoos in a year and we’re done … or another reason, after a few years, was the kids are at a certain age and they no longer want to go to the Zoo … time to cancel.

By May, Eamonn and I had a strategy developed, which involved utilising the services of three telemarketers to conduct a campaign on 8,000 lost members between late June and early/mid October (the members had not renewed within the past 6 – 9 months).

My task was to conduct initial interviews, train the team and work with Eamonn to finalise a series of contact guidelines for the team to follow.

Eamonn took the team to all three Zoos (one is actually a wild life sanctuary), where they gained useful knowledge and were able to say things, during the campaign, such as ‘what’s your favourite Zoo? Oh, yes, Werribee Plains … I’ve been there and the brand new gorilla exhibit is about to open …’.

Our objectives for the campaign were to re-gain a minimum 10% lost members but aim for a 20% win back.

The team achieved in excess of a 60% win back result. Over 5000 lost members actually renewed their membership.

This was a remarkable achievement by any standards. The campaign was not a late payment renewals campaign – it was a lost member campaign.

This team was incredible. All highly trained, tough as nails pro’s? Not at all. Two of the ladies were mums who were seeking part time work (we also had a young lad at the start, however his work was not up to standard – so Eamonn made the decision to let him go) and an agency temp. The term ‘ordinary people doing extraordinary things’ comes to mind every time I reflect on this campaign.

How did we achieve such a stunning success, measured not only in numbers regained but in revenue earned?

Here are the five steps we followed:

  1. Leadership – Eamonn Verberne was great to work with … a leader by any definition. There were times where we alternated leadership roles to ensure the best outcome. One of the ladies became team leader during the campaign. She was really good.
  2. Strategy – Eamonn and I developed a series of clearly defined action plans based around our objectives. Once you have a strategy, and everyone is on board, things tend to fall into place.
  3. A good team – We chose well. We let one go who was not working. We gave them training, we gave them knowledge (eg the three Zoo trips) and we gave them feedback. This helped their individual and team motivation. They were a strong team who worked well together.
  4. Reporting – We all knew where the campaign was going, week by week, and were able to correct any issues as we went along. This is a very important component of any campaign.
  5. The Offer – We gave a financial concession … if you re-join now, you will not have to pay the joining/processing fee, but mainly focussed on benefits and value of re-joining (free to children every day, new exhibits, upcoming events and more …we simply captured their hearts!)

Profoundly simple. Very successful.