The Membership Multiplier: How Sequence Helped the Executives’ Club Double Down on Growth

Member Engagement Strategy
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Member Engagement Strategy

The Challenge: Stagnant Membership Growth

The Executives’ Club of Chicago (Exec Club), a historic business forum established in 1911, had long been a cornerstone for connecting Chicago’s leading executives. However,  the Club faced a critical challenge: stagnant membership growth. Over a decade without a member engagement strategy refresh had resulted in a steady decline in membership decline). This not only impacted revenue but also affected the overall atmosphere of the Club. Events lacked the vibrant energy of past years, and networking opportunities felt less dynamic.

Faced with declining membership, The Executives’ Club of Chicago partnered with Sequence Consulting to develop a revitalized member engagement strategy. Sequence’s “Way-to-Play℠” strategy involves collaborating with staff and board members to identify the Club’s “Right to Win” and develop an engagement strategy that addresses members’ unmet needs

Member Engagement Strategy Driven By Data

Dr. Margaret Mueller, a seasoned leader with a proven track record of innovation, was appointed CEO. She recognized the need for a strategic shift and initiated a comprehensive review of the Club’s offerings and target audience. Partnering with Energy BBDO, a Chicago advertising agency known for its bold and creative work, they embarked on a complete rebranding effort.

This wasn’t just about a new logo or tagline. The team conducted in-depth interviews with current and lapsed members and industry leaders outside the Club. They explored changing business landscapes, emerging leadership challenges, and the evolving needs of executives.

Under Sequence’s guidance, Dr. Margaret Mueller and the team re-evaluated the Club’s member engagement strategy, focusing on executives’ distinct needs and how the Club could uniquely address them. Sequence-facilitated workshops and member surveys to gather in-depth insights, leading to a clear understanding of what mattered most to current and potential members.

This resulted in a shift towards a more content-driven approach, with a focus on delivering high-quality resources and fostering peer-to-peer learning opportunities. The Club also revamped its membership model, offering tiered options that catered to the specific needs of corporations and individuals.

Understanding the "Why": Member Needs Assessment

The research revealed a disconnect between the Club’s traditional offerings and the needs of today’s executives. While access to exclusive events remained valuable, members craved:

    • Content that addressed critical business challenges: From navigating technological disruptions to fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the demand for insights and practical solutions was high.
    • Actionable resources: Members desired access to white papers, industry reports, and curated online content that could be directly applied to their roles.
    • A platform for peer-to-peer learning: Beyond networking events, executives sought opportunities to share best practices and learn from each other’s experiences.
    • A broader reach: While Chicago remained a core focus, geographically dispersed members and aspiring executives outside the city expressed interest in connecting with the Club’s prestigious community.

A Multi-Faceted Approach: Solutions for a Revitalized Club

Armed with these insights, Dr. Mueller and the Sequence team developed a multi-faceted member engagement strategy:

    • Rebranding for Relevance: Energy BBDO crafted a new brand identity that reflected the Club’s rich history while projecting a modern and dynamic image. The messaging shifted to emphasize the Club’s role as a catalyst for executive growth, fostering meaningful connections, and providing cutting-edge content.
    • A Tailored Membership Experience: The one-size-fits-all membership model was replaced with tiered options. Corporate memberships offered benefits like preferential access to events, leadership development programs, and dedicated account managers. Individual memberships focused on networking opportunities, online communities for peer-to-peer learning, and access to a curated content library.
    • Content as a Cornerstone: The Club partnered with industry experts to develop a robust content strategy. This included:
      • Executive webinars: Featuring industry leaders and thought-provokers, these interactive sessions addressed critical business topics.
      • In-depth reports: The Club commissioned research on relevant trends and challenges, providing members with valuable insights and actionable takeaways.
      • Curated online library: A dynamic online platform housing articles, white papers, case studies, and other resources relevant to executives’ needs.
      • The “Executives’ Exchange”: A members-only online forum fostered discussions, knowledge-sharing, and peer-to-peer learning.
    • Expanding Reach: A Global Mindset While Chicago remained a central hub, the Club leveraged technology to connect with geographically dispersed members and aspiring executives. Online events, virtual networking opportunities, and a revamped website with global accessibility broadened the Club’s reach.

The Results: A Thriving Community

The Club experienced remarkable membership growth, improved retention, increased revenue, dramatically enhanced member satisfaction, and fostered a vibrant community through its initiatives.

    • Undeniable impact on membership: 200% increase in membership over three years.
    • Impressive retention rates: 100% of corporate members and 90% of individual members renewed in the first year.
    • Tangible financial benefits: 30% increase in revenue from corporate sponsorship.
    • Dramatic improvement in member satisfaction: Within two years, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) soared 45 points, from -5 to +50.
    • Enhanced member engagement: Events energized, and the online forum became a hub of interaction.

Lessons Learned: A Blueprint for Member Engagement

The Executives’ Club’s success, facilitated by Sequence Consulting’s expertise, highlights the importance of prioritizing member needs through ongoing research to create a winning member engagement strategy. Associations can thrive by offering valuable content beyond event access, fostering peer learning, and providing tiered membership options. Embracing technology and a data-driven approach allows them to connect with a broader audience and continuously adapt to member needs.

To read more about how Sequence creates winning member engagement strategy, please see From Passive to Passionate: How to Supercharge Member Engagement.

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