By Tom Ainsley, F182814
Western Area Vice President
The Marketing Strategy Committee was formed by FMCA president Connie Pool soon after she assumed office in 2007. Its stated mission is to work on the development and implementation of FMCA’s marketing strategy. To that end, we are guided by FMCA’s Strategic Plan and are working in coordination with FMCA standing committees, as well as the Executive Board and FMCA staff in Cincinnati. The goal is to recommend strategies and initiatives that will benefit our members, FMCA, and the 10 areas.
Committee members are Charlie Adcock, F311374, of the South Central Area; John Juarez, F264001, of the Southeast Area; and Fred O’Donnell, F293801, of the International Area. I am the Western Area vice president and committee chairman. Connie Pool, F140306, is an ex officio member, and Don Eversmann, F240000, FMCA executive director, is the staff adviser to the committee. The committee’s work during the past year has been accomplished at two meetings in Cincinnati and many e-mails and conference/individual telephone calls. The FMCA staff also has been most helpful and cooperative, and they are certainly part of the “we” I refer to in this article.
Our first meeting was held in November 2007 at the national office in Cincinnati. We began by determining that our focus would be on membership retention and expansion. We recognize that our existing membership numbers have become smaller for a number of reasons, some of which, sadly, are not reversible. For the vast majority, however, we felt that emphasis should be directed toward promoting the pleasures of becoming more involved in chapter membership and participation in all the fun and fellowship activities of FMCA.
A significant portion of FMCA members do not belong to chapters, nor do they have a complete understanding and appreciation of what FMCA benefits offer them. We are in the process of developing tools using video and Internet media to inform our current and prospective members about these membership advantages.
Forums have been held at our area rallies and international conventions to gather information and ideas from current members. FMCA is also reaching out to the baby boomer generation specifically, urging them to join FMCA and be active members. Connie Pool met with a group of FMCA members who fit this category during our Pomona, California, convention this past February to get their ideas. This session provided greater insight into boomer motivation and desires as well as many ideas for the future. Similar sessions will take place during the July convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Comments from this initial focus group provided feedback that strongly suggests that the Marketing Strategy Committee is on the right track in addressing the changing needs of our membership. Activities at our conventions and rallies are being reviewed to discern how they mesh with the likes and needs of these groups. Chapter activities need to be interesting to them, and new chapters formed that are relevant to boomer interests. A mechanism such as a “Boomer Advisory Council” can provide input on a regular basis to help us in this new direction we need to take.
As has been said so many times, our members are our best recruiters. We are encouraging training sessions for area (membership) liaisons so they have the most current information and methodologies to enhance area programs. We are exploring video and online education programs to provide recruiting techniques and other helpful information.
Also, we have recommended a mechanism be established to monitor information about FMCA that is shared on the Internet. The desire would be to set the record straight on inaccurate information that might be posted. We also want to encourage a continuing review of FMCA’s image from within and outside FMCA. We want an image that retains our history, while at the same time conveys a positive and upbeat image that appeals to newer RVers and encourages them to join our organization.
The challenges ahead are significant, and action needs to be taken now. Some of the recommendations coming out of the Marketing Strategy Committee can be implemented soon. Some are works in progress as I write this article. Others will take further development with other committees and staff. Funding is also another issue that we are tackling. Regardless, we all realize that we must move ahead and that we must invest in the future of FMCA.