You got someone to say “yes” to a membership, a donation, a subscription. Congratulations, but your work has just begun.

Continuity marketing is the practice of stringing a series of “yeses” together. One yes is good, two yeses is better, but it’s still not enough. How many is the right answer? 

Know your “Yes Goal” for a healthy constituent retention strategy

Succeeding as a continuity-based organization or business requires you to know your “Yes Goal”—your target to assure you are growing, thriving and sustainable. 

Start counting at the first “yes.” Fill the bucket. Get as many of them as you can (use MCA’s “How much is too much” calculator). Recognize that you aren’t going to get a second yes from all of them, but that’s ok as long as you’ve got everything in place to nurture and engage the ones who WILL say yes again.

Getting the first yes is hard. Really hard. You have to think like your prospect, craft a persuasive offer/message, keep the barriers to entry low, and identify the best “watering holes” where your prospective audience can be found. You have to be “choose-worthy” in a busy world of distractions. 

The first “yes” is expensive 

Depending on your allowable acquisition calculations, it may cost you much more than the first “yes” will generate. Trust the process (and the calculator). Invest in your future.

That first “yes” takes time

Give yourself room to test. Rush the process and you’ll get what you deserve, not what you desire. Establish a strong membership marketing strategy (we like to call it a lighthouse) to keep your focus and direction. And keep you off the rocks. Then, the quest for the next yes begins immediately.

Resist the temptation to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your acquisition labors. Remember: The first yes is just the beginning. Now it’s time to deliver on the promise you made at acquisition and exhibit value to your fresh new participant. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because that’s the path to the next yes.

Think of it as a sustained effort to keep their heads (metaphorically speaking) nodding. A strong onboarding series that informs, satisfies and engages. Appropriate offers of additional products and services they can’t easily get elsewhere. Keep the quest for another “yes” in mind when you craft all these messages and offers. 

Not all yeses should have strings attached

Remember that “yes” doesn’t always mean convincing your audience member to pay more. Sometimes a good yes is the act of participating in a survey. Or attending a (free) event online or in person. Or feedback on an article or blog post. It’s an act of alignment and engagement with your organization.

The quest for yes can begin with an act of gratitude. Saying “thank you” sets a tone that the member is appreciated and valued. 

This tender honeymoon period is the best time to establish a “you” culture. “You” made a good decision to accept the invitation to join. “You” are encouraged to use all your benefits. “You” are part of this community and make it better. “You” belong. Steer clear of the navel-gazing “me” “we” and “us.”

The next Yes isn’t a sales opportunity—it’s harvesting.

You filled the initial bucket. You put effort into engaging, thanking, nudging and listening to your community members. Now it’s time to start collecting the next important “yes.”

It’s counterintuitive, but put the sales language away when it comes time to renew. If you’ve done a good job of delivering on the initial promise, renewal should be straightforward. A case of “it’s time to pay.” 

The number one mistake organizations make in a renewal series is to sell the benefits.

Why? Here’s our theory: It’s likely the majority of your audience doesn’t use all your benefits and services. So that means when you remind someone of the benefits they DIDN’T use, you unwittingly tell them they wasted their money. Makes sense when you think of it that way, doesn’t it? No one wants to feel foolish or wasteful.

You want your renewal request to be just as important as a utility bill. Those notices don’t resell the value of your water or electricity, do they? They simply say, “time to pay.”

It’s ok to use language that reminds them of the mission, or the sense of community, or sometimes even the stellar content that they receive. But be mindful of making someone feel like they’ve wasted an opportunity.

Load up the continuity retention Yeses

This is a great time to multiply your yeses with tactics like auto renew and multi-year offers. 

Remember how hard you worked to get that first yes? You were willing to do anything (almost). First year discounts, premiums, freemiums. 

Now it’s time to work just as hard to get them to stick with you. Multi-year terms are more than just a discount tactic. This is a very key way to remove attrition of course, but it’s also a way to allow someone to raise their hand a little higher. Those multi-year people are more than smart deal-shoppers. They have voted yes to a future with you. Their acceptance of a multi-year commitment says they are aligned and want to be in your community for more than a single term. 

Experience tells us those people are more likely to say “yes” to other ancillary offers, and to participate in programs at a higher rate than the person who is making a one-term-at-a-time commitment. 

Another vote of confidence is an individual who is willing to let you auto-charge them for dues. Yes, it’s a convenience. They trust you enough to give you their credit card! But it’s also a message that they are on the highway with you. Positioning auto-dues as a benefit is a great way to position it as a service, not an abuse. If you aren’t incorporating auto-dues in your retention arsenal, here’s a guide to get you started. 

Add up the yeses to maximize the lifetime value of a customer

Acquisition: The first Yes

Engagement: Three or more Yeses

Retention: Three or more Yeses

Ancillary purchases or attendance: even MORE Yeses

Add them all up and you’ve got a Yes Goal worth pursuing!

What’s your Yes Goal? Lifetime value is why you are in the continuity business. Embrace the concept of always looking for the Next Yes.