To increase our paying membership, we must strengthen our advertising efforts. Until last spring, TFN was doing almost zero active advertising. We still have a long way to go.
Over the summer months, I analyzed the effectiveness of our member recruitment methods for the past 7 years. I reported my detailed findings to TFN's executive director. Here are some useful facts: our financially contributing members say that they heard about us from:
|28%||Internet (web engine searches)|
|17%||poster/ print/ broadcast|
These numbers are not reliable but they are the best I have coaxed out of our database, so far. Also, we did almost zero print advertising for years, so the low return in that area proves little. But I do believe that, broadly, these trends are true.
I think that we should put our strongest emphasis on involving and equipping members (that means you, reading this) for telling their neighbours, friends, and relatives about TFN. Provide our members with solid information they can use in their recruiting efforts; give them good brochures to give away, etc.
Online, we need to get ourselves listed in directories of ISPs in which we are currently unlisted. We also really need to improve our search engine ranking for keywords like "ISP", for which our current rating is shameful (though we rate well on some keywords). This means improving the textual content (not the graphics) of some of our web pages.
poster/ brochure/ etc
Finally, we need to produce and distribute print materials. Since this appears to be the least productive strategy, I think that we should devote the fewest resources to it — but not neglect it completely.
If you know how to get TFN mentioned, for free, in magazines and newspapers or on radio and TV, I want to hear from you!
We also have a huge number of dormant members — almost fifty thousand people. We could try to contact them, and encourage them to return. Yes, this amounts to telemarketing. Locating them will be hard work too, since much of the contact info has changed in the ensuing decade and a half. I do not know what the success rate would be in soliciting dormant members to switch back to TFN services from whatever they are using now. But these people have, at least, heard of TFN.
All these things require resources. Money is a factor (and we have very little), but people are also necessary to make all this happen.
Copyright (C) 2009 Iain Calder. All rights reserved.