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Smart Marketing

I’ve been critical of NRA’s marketing before, but I’ve also offered suggestions. Today, it’s time for another suggestion.

We all know that periodically NRA offers discounted life memberships and life member upgrades. However, the portion of the membership to receive the offers often seems quite random. I’m sure there’s some equation they do to come up with their lists, but, regardless, not every one gets the offer. In addition, when some do get the offer, they just don’t see the benefit over annual membership. The discount is great if you actually plan on buying a life membership anyway. For those who never thought about it, the conversion rate is going to be greatly reduced.

So, how do you market to a) people who are more likely to take advantage of the buy-in, b) people who could find a “use” in being a life member, and c) get other NRA to do your pressure sales for you?

Taking a look at Sebastian’s gun club newsletter this morning, I see that roughly 10% of their club members have expiring NRA memberships coming due in the next few months. Since the club is a 100% club, there’s a vested interest by the members in keeping up their NRA memberships. Since the club checks everyone’s NRA membership, there’s a vested interest in leaders to minimize work. Haha, we’ve now found a group that meets all three needs above.

So for those of you in Fairfax reading, perhaps it’s time to update the Clubs & Associations databases, plead with membership to open their minds to new ideas, and offer clubs who recruit life members at discounted prices the chance to minimize their own paperwork. Frame it in terms of incentives. Crazy enough, it works as a pitch to most people. In fact, make the minimization of paperwork a theme and offer to create a special co-branded flyer for the clubs to send to their members either via email or snail mail. Bringing on even one new life member, even at a discounted rate, would more than cover the costs.

Now, if we really want to get crazy and look at the incentives for NRA to take a chance with a new marketing idea, they could look at doing this now so that they have more people on their lists for the 2010 elections. I know, it’s nuts!

Oh yeah, and I’ll use this post to put in a pitch that NRA should offer the life member discount their give to their own staff to the staff members of official state associations. They usually make far less than those in Fairfax do, have far fewer benefits (if any), and don’t get much in return. It would the decent thing to do to recognize the contributions those folks (however few right now) make to the cause.

9 Responses to “Smart Marketing”

  1. flashman says:

    I strongly support the NRA, but have looked at the economics of the life member offers I’ve gotten and figure I’ll wait 3 1/2 years for the senior life membership. I’m already paid up until then, so as much as I would like to become a life member now, unless I can at least break even on the deal, I’ll wait.

  2. James says:

    I let my NRA membership lapse because of all the junk mail they were sending me. It looks like they spent my dues on everything *but* lobbying. Even when I told them to stop sending me crap, I still got ‘special offers’ for things I didn’t want or need (life insurance, among other things.)

    A quick Google search shows that I’m not the only one complaining about this. Also, even though I’m a registered member of the Evil Party, I still somehow ended up on the RNC’s mailing list. I can only assume that LaPierre and Steele swapped little black books after the election.

  3. Bitter says:

    I’m happy to see you’re such an informed former member. ILA gets very little money from dues. If you wanted to focus on lobbying support, then you should have been donating to ILA.

    As for the extra offers, you can get off those lists. It sounds like you may not have called the appropriate department to get off the lists. We pretty much only get the magazines and the confirmation letters when we donate. Every once in a while we get a fundraising letter, but I’d say that’s maybe once a month. We ignore them and give to the programs as we see fit. (For example, our last donations were to the youth program & women’s programs.)

    As for selling your name, I can’t speak to that. I honestly don’t think they’ve sold mine – only because of what I don’t get to former addresses where I only had a membership in NRA. Now magazines, on the other hand, are terrible about it. I’ve had my name sold or rented to more lists from my right-of-center former magazine subscriptions than anything else.

  4. James says:

    In the best Steve Martin voice I can muster:

    “Well, excuuuuuse me!”

    Every gunblogger on my feed list exhorts their readers to “join the NRA” to protect the Second Amendment. So I did.

    How *stupid* was I to think that the money I sent them might actually be put towards something useful?

    Thanks, Bitter for informing me of the truth. The guilt pangs I had for not renewing my membership are now gone.

    • Bitter says:

      It’s called tax law, James. I’d try to educate you, but it sounds like we’d need to start from scratch. Even if we didn’t start from scratch, you’d need to foot the bill for the attorney to pay once it started getting a little complicated. Hell, you might as well hire two since there’s going to be at least two different interpretations once things really get fun.

      I’m also glad to hear that you do not support the non-lobbying agenda of NRA. I’m happy to find out that you’re against working to train youth shooters, expanding the shooting culture to include more women, and helping ranges better serve the needs of competitive and not-so-competitive gun owners. It’s good to know you share opinions with the Brady Campaign that these are things we should not do as a community.

      It takes more than $35 a year to protect the Second Amendment. It’s interesting that even when you believed the only “added” cost was in tolerating some extra mail, you still felt that was too much to ask for gun rights. Even when you could get off the extra mailing list, you are unwilling to open the wallet a little more for lobbying – if that’s your main area of interest. If it’s not, why didn’t you get involved with a local Friends of NRA committee or become part of their training program to conduct new shooter outreach? Even when you thought you were doing your part, you were only doing the bare minimum.

  5. Dannytheman says:

    Bitter, thanks for sharing this useful info.
    I have received many offers for life membership along the way. 400 dollar matching checks, 1/2 off discounts, and Recruiter deals for 250 off. What I wanted to share with you was how difficult it was to see what you received for your life membership money. I had to spend a great deal of time researching on their web site to discover when I can vote, and what Life gets you.
    25 bucks a year is 250 at 10 years so a grand is 40 years of dues. Now I understand the time value of money and all, but I would love to see more LIFE members involved and enthused.
    I am working my way to Endowment… But I called and a nice lady explained all that to me.

    Keep up the good fight!!

  6. FatWhiteMan says:

    I am a Life Member and eventually all three of my kids will be. However, when you can join for free, why would anyone bother? That is the argument I deal with when trying to recruit.

  7. Diomed says:

    I haven’t seen any advantage to the levels beyond lowly peon, so I have no inclination to pay them more. Not interested in a leather jacket I’d never wear.

    Plus I do like knowing I can tell them to go fuck themselves if they sell me out.

  8. DirtCrashr says:

    I hear James’ complaint often and it’s bogus. I get a ton of junk mail from the SAF, GOA, and other gun-orgs., but not from the NRA. Even when I told those other folks to stop sending me crap, that I don’t have a job and can’t send them money, they won’t stop asking for it – the NRA has never done that to me.

    My club is also a CMP affiliate so NRA membership is a requirement, and I almost had a friend not join because as a Bay-Aryan Liberal he called the NRA, “such a right-wing institution” – he’s drunk a LOT of the kool-aid, but still likes to shoot.

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