How We Helped AARP Grow A Start-Up From Zero to $43M In Three Years
The largest association globally, AARP, has enjoyed tremendous financial success from its non-dues association revenue offerings. Their outstanding products, services, and discounts have created terrific value for their members and robust partnerships with their affinity providers.
AARP foresaw slow, steady growth in their affinity business, AARP Services, for years but few opportunities for new and exciting growth.
For many years, corporations had come to AARP seeking their expertise on older consumers. AARP knows more than anyone about people over the age of 50. They have decades of exclusive research and America’s largest database of 50+ individuals.
They had been highly successful in developing high-value products for the 50+ market. Corporations wanted to benefit from that expertise, but AARP had never had a way to provide it.
The opportunity would be significant if AARP could provide marketing insights and expertise to corporations in a way consistent with their mission of improving life for all as they age.
The challenge was to find a suitable model and create the business case to make a significant investment in a new business arena they had never entered before to grow their market influence and association revenue.
Launching a Startup to Grow Association Revenue
Under the leadership of AARP Services CEO (and former Mastercard CMO) Larry Flanagan, Sequence built the business plan from the ground up. Sequence had been a trusted strategic advisor to AARP for over ten years and had deep experience in for-profit startups and services businesses. In addition, our two decades of experience with major corporations and marketing agencies were extremely valuable in pinpointing the opportunity and creating a winning strategy.
The concept was to launch a marketing services agency serving major corporations in the 50+ marketplace, leveraging AARP’s research, data analytics, and product development and marketing knowledge. Corporate marketers would come to the new agency for help creating and marketing products 50+ consumers wanted and needed, benefiting from a level of insight and expertise no other agency could offer.
The goal was to write an airtight business plan to prove the revenue opportunity was there, that AARP could succeed, the plan to do it would work, and the association’s revenue opportunity justified the investment.
We used the research and planning tools we had developed in our many years of experience to size the market, research the competition, understand their potential customers, and define an objective and sizeable opportunity. Their competitive advantage was obvious. The go-to-market required careful thought and planning, where our corporate development and marketing background spanning both the for-profit and non-profit worlds was invaluable.
Beyond market research, we developed detailed financial forecasts and operational plans to fund, launch, and build a new business that would generate significant association revenue for AARP.
The result was a credible, compelling business plan of the quality and depth that would inspire confidence in any investor, in this case, their Board, who approved a multi-million dollar investment in a new startup organization.
Successful Association Revenue Growth
AARP launched Influent50, an AARP Services agency, providing a full range of marketing services exclusively focused on the 50+ market. They assembled a world-class team of data scientists, strategists, and agency creatives with an exclusive license to AARP’s intellectual property (while never compromising member privacy).
As a result, the team identified, understood, and communicated with 50+ consumers, unlike any other marketing firm in the country.
They quickly attracted a roster of major corporations, including Citibank, New York Life, Hartford, and many others, to help them create and market products that would meet the needs of the 50+ market.
Because Influent50 was able to bring AARP’s knowledge and resources to bear, the results they were able to deliver were tremendous:
- Influent50 grew from a fledgling start-up to a $47 million business in three years.
- It created a new revenue model for AARP, providing direct B2B value alongside its already successful affinity model.
- The agency was so successful that international corporations sought them out to re-create the model worldwide, in Asia and South America.
Sequence advised and supported them throughout the launch and growth phases, becoming part of the team and providing ongoing expertise and direction to guide their growth.
In the words of Influent50 CEO Dave Austin, “We could have never done it without Sequence Consulting.”