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How a Marketing Campaign Can Yield More Members

An inside look at a targeted growth strategy

Like many organizations, IPC, the electronics industry’s global trade association, has a membership growth challenge. While the pandemic has thrown new challenges into the mix, last year, IPC overcame some of its growth challenges with a new marketing campaign that netted a 17 percent growth in membership.

To drive membership growth, the organization needed to increase awareness among non-members (and current members, too) that being a member of IPC delivers a proven ROI. Many viewed IPC as simply “a standards development organization.” Its goal was to demonstrate how IPC helps members build electronics better using not only its standards but also through its discounted products and services and the support of new initiatives.

To reach its goal, the organization invested in a marketing campaign to communicate the overall value of membership, add new members and boost retention.

Campaign Goals

The marketing campaign had four goals:

Increase membership. Kicking off the campaign in January 2019, its goal was to recruit new members by marketing to IPC’s database of prospects, which included thousands of individuals who had purchased IPC products or services but whose companies had not become IPC members. The organization also marketed to the industry at large. It set a baseline objective to increase membership in 2019 by at least 7 percent over 2018, which meant 400-plus new member sites (company locations).

Improve retention. In addition to attracting new members, the organization wanted to reinforce the value of IPC membership to current members and improve its retention rate.

Position membership. IPC wanted to position membership as a key contributor to the manufacture of consistently high-quality, highly reliable electronics. The electronics industry is divided into three classes: Class 1, with a short lifecycle, such as toys or flashlights; Class 2, designed for a longer life like microwaves and laptops; and Class 3, where quality, reliability and consistency are critical, such as in aerospace and medical applications. IPC’s campaign focused on Classes 2 and 3, where it saw high adoption and usage of IPC standards that contribute to members’ financial success. The organization's goal was to communicate that adding an IPC membership makes improved quality, reliability and consistency possible.

Demonstrate value. IPC wanted to show prospective members a demonstrable ROI with the savings IPC membership brings through discounts and other benefits. IPC used data collected from existing members on the value of their membership and how the membership “pays for itself.” Its research indicated more than 60 percent of companies saved tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars by using IPC products and services. Additionally, more than 40 percent have reduced costly re-work.

The Marketing Plan

IPC developed a two-phase integrated marketing plan, partnering with David James Group agency. Phase one was prelaunch and included campaign and theme development, media planning, an “IPC Membership Pays for Itself” testimonial and infographic, a teaser video, testimonial videos and a campaign landing page.

In phase two, the organization rolled out the campaign, including its IPC Ambassador toolkit, which provided tools to make the case for IPC membership to internal decision-makers. Its marketing agency created the theme “Start with the Standards” (SWTS), which communicated how better electronics mean a better quality of life for all. A key strategy in this campaign was making a compelling offer: a 50 percent savings on a first-time member’s initial year of dues. The offer was valued at a minimum of $675 for the typical single-site membership.


Membership. The SWTS campaign performed well beyond expectations. At the end of 2019, IPC experienced a 24 percent gain in new member sites. After adjusting for lost retention, its net growth in members sites was 17 percent, which means IPC more than doubled its minimum growth goal of 7 percent. 

Retention. IPC exceeded its retention rate objective by 150 member sites. A significant improvement over the original goal.

Finances. Sixty-five percent of their new members were first-time members, which means they were eligible for its 50 percent discount offer. Based on the campaign’s budget and the dues revenue generated, IPC estimates the campaign’s ROI at 485 percent. The organization expects to benefit from significant additional membership revenue over the lifetime of these new members based on today’s average annual member rate, retention rate and member tenure. Additional membership revenue helps drive investment in new and better ways to serve its members.

Results. While IPC did not assign goals to recruit enterprise members (i.e., the membership type covering all of a company’s sites), it ended the year with a 50 percent increase in enterprise members as well. Adding enterprise member companies is another important avenue to the membership growth strategy's success.

IPC sees the success of this campaign as contributing to the success of the electronics industry. IPC is now even better positioned to provide the products, services, industry advocacy, innovative solutions and thought leadership necessary for the world to build electronics better.

About the author:
Brian Knier is chief marketing officer and vice president of member success at IPC in Bannockburn, Illinois. This article originally appeared on ASAE's Center for Research. OSAE thanks ASAE for their commitment to strengthening the association community and its members' business acumen. Please select this link to read the article as it originally appeared on ASAE's website.

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