Across the United States, many museums are struggling to maintain current membership levels, let alone increase them. They have aging members and that population deceases all the time. In order to remain relevant, many museums have adopted new programs trying to reach younger demographics. While these programs may draw people in once, on average they have not been able to turn the visits into new memberships. This is where direct mail, in conjunction with other marketing channels, can really help.
1. First, profile your current membership list. What are their common interests? Ignoring their ages, what else do you see? Do they live in certain areas? Do they subscribe to certain magazines? Create a list of characteristics that fit with your membership. This will become the criteria for your list purchase. You want to target people based on interest in order to reach new potential members.
2. What are you going to send them? Why not start with a fun postcard? The design needs to draw attention. You should create a special membership deal just for them, for example, if they go to a specified event you are having, they can get a great deal on membership. Focus on what is in it for them and why a membership is good for them. You can’t just appeal to their sense of altruism — there needs to be clear benefits. These should be tailored to types of people since some features will be more appealing than others to each person. Just listing a bunch of benefits is not the same as highlighting three very specific things that are of specific importance to them.
3. Consider sending direct mail to people who have visited in the past, but have not become members. Send them a mailer with a card attached that lists all your upcoming events and a special membership deal that will get them into these events. They can detach the card to keep for reference. If you use a magnet they can affix it to the fridge. Consider trying new things with your direct mail that you have never done before. You can run a test by sending half your list a new version and the other half of your list your normal mail piece. See which one does better. Constantly changing how you send direct mail is important to get the attention and create a sense of curiosity with your potential members.
Usually at this point we start to have the discussion that since they are trying to reach millennials they are better off with digital only marketing channels. This is not true at all. Millennials like getting mail. I am not saying to stop digital marketing to them; I am saying add direct mail to the mix. Quad released a study about millennials, click here that shows they really do respond to direct mail. Of course when they get the mail piece they go online to make the purchase, so make sure to have a web link on your mail piece for them to buy the membership.
The big takeaway here is that direct mail can help boost your membership rates more than just digital channels alone. For best results, use an omnichannel approach. The more touches you have with potential members the greater chance you have of turning them into members. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and try new things; just make sure that you have a way to track responses so you truly know what is working for you.