|Subject:||Letter from AMCA Exec Director re: Directory Solicitation||Date:||Thu Jun 1 21:57:08 2017|
I received this email from Keith Kizer.|
Open Letter to Members
This letter is in response to the recent post cards and emails sent to members about the 2018 Membership directory
Please disregard if outside U.S. & Canada
Dear AMCA Members,
Both Cornerstone Registration and I have been fielding numerous calls and emails regarding North America members receiving post cards and/or emails from a company called Publishing Concepts who AMCA has entered into an agreement to publish a new membership directory.
The concept of the post cards was to verify membership information prior to publishing a membership directory. It has been well over a dozen years since AMCA has produced a true membership directory, which serves as a pictorial much like a college alumni directory. This gives members an opportunity to have their photo in the directory with more information about themselves.
The last membership roster (a much cheaper form at only $15) was a big loss of money for the club. The last run of Rosters, counting printing and production, cost the AMCA $11,300 and our sales were less than $6,500.
So, when the opportunity came to produce a Membership Directory at no cost to the AMCA, it seemed like a logical move to save the club money and yet provide a roster for those who really want one. The Board members felt that the $100 price for a directory was quite steep but our sales rep assured us, based on their past experience with other member organizations, that people would buy them. The assumption was, if there is no risk to losing money then we should at least try it. The Board was split but a final vote of 6 in favor to 3 opposed gave a green light to the project.
The goal was not to sell thousands of directories but to engage a marketing partner with the manpower to contact not only our 11,000 member but also solicit calls from thousands of expired members in hopes of getting them to rejoin.
What we did not anticipate were standard telemarketing tactics that encourages members to purchase not just a directory but hundreds of dollars of AMCA merchandise as a bundle package, merchandise that the club does not make a percentage of. Callers are led to believe this benefits the AMCA. Well, in a way yes, but only to the tune of up to $10 per directory sold if we meet all of our material deadlines for directory content.
We understand a company has to make money on something they are offering to the club for free. We are not professional marketers so we also cannot tell them how to run their business, but we can be disappointed in the tactics and what has led to confusion and frustration by many members.
As many members have indicated, they should have been given proper notice of the campaign and what to expect. I apologize for our failure to do so.
I would like to address the two areas of concern. First, the arrival of the yellow post cards without notice. There was a plan to make members aware of the post card in the June 1st Newsletter. The thought was that it was to be timed so that you would receive the newsletter a couple of days before the post card. Our misunderstanding was what we thought was the ship date of the card turned out to be the "deliver by" date by the USPS. I emailed the newsletter two days early when I started hearing questions of the post card. The first responses were simply to verify that the AMCA did endorse this post card.
Later the same day followed complaints about the calls and the telemarketer sales approach. I stop short of saying "High Pressure" because not everyone was greeted with a long hold time or any strong-arm tactics. Some responses were actually positive and the report I asked for today showed over 250 sales. That was out of a couple of thousand calls so not everyone was disappointed in the call. In hindsight, I should have put that notice out weeks in advance.
To make things worse, in an effort to add a little common information in the directory, PCI asked how many motorcycles you owned and what was your favorite bike. Their script had the screener ask for Make, Model and Year. Though this was in line with what other membership directories highlight in their directories, this gave a bad feeling to some members. Once I realized this line of questioning, I have asked for these questions to be removed. We do not and will not publish any information about what kind or how many motorcycles you own in the directory and I have asked them to delete any motorcycle information taken.
To make this extremely long explanation as short as I can, I want to ask your understanding that our intentions on this project was with the best interest of the club in mind. The desire was to provide a current directory for those who wish to have it, communicate with expired members in hope of some renewing and turn a loss into a profit. I know some look at the word profit as a bad thing in a club environment but we operate at a loss or near loss each year. To continue to try and grow we rely on resources. To market to potential new members, money has to be spent on advertising, non-AMCA displays and marketing material support to our 75 chapters to ensure our growth.
So where do we go from here? We still ask that members, who have not contacted the number on the post card, do so. If you are receiving your magazine, great, we know your mailing address is correct. However, our database is loaded with incorrect phone numbers and email address information. Phone numbers are important so that you can be contacted for a varied but limited number of reasons. We do not solicit members by phone to sell anything. However, having your correct email is the only way we can deliver your bi-monthly digital version of the magazine, for those who wish to have that to accompany their printing version and to receive the bi-monthly newsletter. In addition to this information we are trying to accurately identify what members belong to an AMCA chapter. Without a third party vendor, there is no way we can contact 11,000 members one on one.
If you purchased a membership directory and/or any of the merchandise packages and you feel you purchased it under any false pretenses, please contact me directly and I will see that this is corrected. For those who purchased one or more of the items, I believe you will be perfectly happy with your purchase and knowing you are helping provide a directory that many members crave.
Remember, if you call, you are under no obligation to purchase anything.
A membership directory is a lifeline for members riding antique motorcycles out of state or across the country. In times of trouble, it's nice to make contact with an AMCA member in the area to suggest where to get help or simply a place to work on their motorcycle. The directory is being printed in a soft-bound book so that it easily fits in a saddlebag. Other members rely on the directory to locate members in their community.
Please know we are under contract for an additional follow-up post card and emails but I will be working with PCI next week to rewrite them to be more forthcoming about our intent.
I'm happy to field your question or concerns via email or phone. Thank you for taking time to read my public response.
Keith S. Kizer
Executive Director of the AMCA