Successful Marriage: Membership and Marketing!

In the Zoo and Aquarium world there has long been a debate on where Membership “belongs.”   Marketing or Development?  And every time a poll is taken, it always seems to be a split decision.  No matter where your organization comes down on in this poll, there needs to be a very cozy relationship between Membership and Marketing.

At the 2012 AZA National Conference, the message that seemed to run through all of the Membership sessions what to make sure there is a close working connection with your Marketing Department.

In too many organizations we still see the silo mentality, where one department has blinders on and doesn’t cross the line with other departments in planning, communications and in implementing the activities of their own department.  Here are a few examples of projects and ways of thinking and planning that will help ALL departments be more successful:


  • Membership usually pays for the mailed newsletter, but often can’t get “real estate” it its own publication – be sure that there is always a member and donor news page in the newsletter.  And, if there are promotions going on in Membership or Development, make sure those activities are highlighted – like Adopt campaigns, Annual Fund Appeal, Gift Membership Appeal.
  • The same goes for website and Facebook pages – make sure Membership has a tab on the Facebook page – people will join from the page, especially since people like to stay on the page and don’t have to jump over to a web site.
  • eNewsletters are another opportunity to get everyone on the same page. Plan for the eNews to members to have messages that relate to them – which may mean eNewsletters to the public and members that have some unique differences.


  • Sit down with Marketing and Membership – map out your promotions for the year, get on the other department’s schedule, make sure you are not working at cross purposes, get on their calendar, be sure to get those tweets, Facebook entries and banner ads planned for when your major membership drive is happening.
  • Have Membership be part of the Marketing Departments planning sessions and Marketing sit in on Membership’s planning meetings to make sure you are covering for each other – AND get everyone’s brain power to work for each other.


  • Membership direct mail campaigns work the best when they have the support of advertising.  And the campaigns work the very best when a marketing message and graphics work in tandem.  Membership works months ahead of other people’s schedules especially for graphics – so get everyone working ahead instead of last minute!

In summary, a well oiled, non siloed relationship between Membership and Marketing is a perfect marriage for everyone!