If you're a UK IBD and not yet a member of the Association of Cycle Traders you can expect a letter from Mark Brown by the weekend. Brown is the ACT's sales and marketing manager. He told BikeBiz.com the 1000-address mail-shot is the biggest the ACT has ever undertaken and is indicative of the association starting 2004 in the same way it handled Q4 of 2003 and that's as a "proactive, not reactive" organisation.

ACT to mail-shot 1000 non-members; goal is 100 new members

The ACT currently has 700+ members, with new members joining throughout 2003 thanks to increased visibility via ads and stories in BicycleBusiness and a more proactive stance on trade issues.

Brown is about to send out a 1000-letter mail-shot to prospective IBD members.

"ACT hasn’t done this before because the organisation has never had the focus and resources it now has on sales and marketing," said the ACT’s sales and marketing manager.

"We are committed to growing membership because this will not only galvanise the industry in many areas it will also provide ACT with the necessary revenue for re-investment in things such as consumer promotion of CyTech and development of our website as a better resource for the trade, not to mention investment in back-office functions."

Brown is aware that many prospective members have not joined to date – or are lapsed members – because they feel the ACT offers benefits, such as deals on credit card processing, that they can easily get elsewhere:

"We have a great deal to offer, but most IBDs either don’t know about it in sufficient detail or they have long-held apathetic views on membership. By using direct marketing we’re able to communicate our service offering in a way which is more easily understood by prospective IBD members," said Brown.

"Whilst we recognise commercial cost savings are always going to be a big draw for new members there are also other less well known services like our free legal helpline or the wealth of knowledge that Anne Killick has on legislative areas, or the work we do with ETRA on bikes in boxes, that can really mean a lot to IBDs, and its these other areas that we want prospective members to recognise as just as valuable as commercial cost savings.

"I want existing and new-members to realise membership is an investment. It’s not about spending money but investing that money in a positive and proactive way that will give them and the sector a return in both the short and longer term which is far greater than their initial investment."

After the mail-shot, Brown aims to get on the phone:

"In terms of targets I’d like to see about a 10 percent conversion rate to this mailing. In direct marketing terms that’s a very high conversion, but given that most mailing recipients will have some level of awareness about ACT, the strength and value of our offering, the positive promotion already achieved in 2003 and the fact that we will be following-up with phone calls, I’d like to think this is ambitious but achievable."

He’s ready for objections:

"I know that many won’t be members because they can save more money on card processing or shop insurance elsewhere and therefore don’t think there’s any other reason to be a member. There’s also going to be others who don’t like what we’ve done in the past on certain matters or think we should be a buying-group or some similar type of organisation. By learning more about all these different kinds of objections we can counter with how we’ve changed as an organisation and the many benefits we can offer today. "

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