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Case Study: International Comanche Society

A New Headquarters, A Revitalized Association

 

When your organization is based around an aircraft last manufactured forty-five years ago, the challenges are many: aging pilots, decommissioned aircraft, falling membership numbers, decreasing income. To reduce the impact, VPDCS trimmed costs by serving as the ICS headquarters, plus implemented an ongoing new member acquisition promotion.

David Fitzgerald
Past President and Webmaster

The Challenge

The International Comanche Society exists as a support community for pilots of Comanche aircraft. When the organization was founded in 1973, one year after production ceased, there were 7,000 members. But over time, due to aging pilots and decommission of aircraft, the number of members – and revenue – dwindled. Today only 3,000 Comanches are registered worldwide. The existence of the society was at risk.

ICS wanted to maintain its high level of service and benefits to its now-small but enthusiastic group of 2,000 members, particularly the publication of the Comanche Flyer, their 52-page monthly magazine. They were managing this process in-house, but the overhead costs were getting too steep. The small office staff was also overwhelmed with being a membership service center, renewal processor, publisher, and new member marketer. A Michigan member suggested VPDCS (then Village Press) as a vendor who could provide these services in addition to selling the publication’s advertising, and designing and printing their monthly magazine.

 

The Solution

When ICS walked in the door for the initial meeting in 2004, they heard the front desk receptionist pick up the phone and say, “Good morning, Tyson Foods.” Another call and she answered, “Good morning, Sara Lee.” This impressed them so much they walked into the meeting asking, “Could you do that for ICS?” After a year of planning, the physical ICS headquarters closed its doors and moved its editorial responsibilities, membership services, advertising sales, and magazine production to Village Press.

Since those first years, we’ve added more value and services to the partnership.  We’ve created a digital platform for members to view their publication digitally. We assist the treasurer with bookkeeping responsibilities.  We also implemented a new member program to attract the many pilots of FAA registered airplanes who were not and had never been members of ICS.

The Results

Since “becoming” ICS headquarters, the membership attrition has ceased with the number of members remaining steady, thanks in large part to the association’s tremendous value. This value, appreciated by members, is communicated in a multi-step renewal series, which in turn helps to keep members a part of ICS. The association has an 80 percent renewal rate.

Currently, ICS can claim 50 percent of the Comanche aircraft registered with the FAA as members. A program was implemented in 2015 to reach those FAA registered pilots who are not members. The offer is for a free trial membership, with subsequent efforts to convert into a paid membership. The program has an 8.03 percent response rate, with a 90 percent join rate – exceptional!

ICS has remained a serviceable type club because of consolidating its resources and has maintained its membership level over the years, even growing 3 percent. They have a “team” at VPDCS who can keep their membership and subscription services running smoothly, which saves them time and expense while also providing their members with a high-level experience.

80%

Average Renewal Rate

12.8%

Membership Growth

$2,164

Income Generated from Initial FAA Promotion

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