Solving the Puzzle

Can an individualized College experience attract new and disconnected members?Solving the Puzzle

Imagine that the benefits of ACR membership correspond to the colored panels on an unsolved Rubik's Cube®. Each color represents a pillar or activity of the College.

Perhaps membership in the ACR is most important to you because of the orange squares that symbolize the organization's advocacy on Capitol Hill. Or maybe you value the educational courses and CME offerings — the blue squares spread throughout each side.

This puzzle-game metaphor is used by Mark J. Adams, M.D., M.B.A., FACR, diagnostic radiologist at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., chair of the ACR Committee on Membership Development, to explain the diversity of College benefits and what appeals to each segment of the ACR's membership. At first glance, members may not fully value each benefit category, especially when the cube remains unsolved and the colors are scrambled. But when each square falls into place, it becomes much easier to appreciate what the College provides to individual members across a broad community of radiologists in private practice and academia.

Mark AdamsAdams says, "If you look at the College as a product, it has so many different attributes that people sometimes lose sight of why the organization is important to them." To showcase the value of membership, the ACR Committee on Membership Development is working to push those colors into place and provide radiologists with a clearer picture of their professional society. After all, without the financial support of member dues, the College could not implement its mission to enhance and contribute to its five pillars.

Applying Business Principles

The ACR estimates that approximately 70 percent of U.S. radiologists are College members. "Increasing the number of members is valuable for two obvious reasons: influence and resources," elaborates Adams, who was appointed in 2010 by David C. Kushner, M.D., FACR, chair of the ACR Commission on Membership and Communications. "The more resources the ACR has at its disposal, the more influence we can have on Capitol Hill as we advocate for our patient's needs and the specialty."

Adams has leveraged his M.B.A. from the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester to increase ACR membership. "I think the committee's task is similar to the development of any product," explains Adams. "In this case, the product is membership in the College. Our task or goal is to retain current members and attract new ones."

Adams has taken a systematic approach to membership development by initially "going after the low-hanging fruit," he says, using sales and marketing parlance to refer to former or potential members who can be reached by partnering with ACR-managed societies and organizations. "We've been working through ACR state chapters or local societies, as well as publications and e-mail communication, to send a direct message to these disengaged individuals or practices," Adams adds.

Targeted Initiatives

To reach nonmembers, the committee has taken several approaches, including teaming up with a professional communications firm, Inalink, to find and interview lapsed members. "Inalink provides the ACR with the critical reasons why members fail to renew," says Adams. "Since 2007, the effort has generated data that indicate nonrenewing members may not realize the value of membership in the College because the overall picture is confused, like an unsolved puzzle. Using this information, we've been able to refine our membership value statement and secure 1,580 dues renewals."

One group of particular interest to the committee is the Resident and Fellow Section. Currently, 40 percent of resident and fellow members do not become full ACR members have completing training. One reason is that the transition to practice often results in a loss of contact information. Adams and the committee are finding creative ways to reach this specific audience, such as the Annual Training Program Update, which allows the ACR Department of Member Services to connect with every resident and fellow in an approved training program. In 2011, the College also launched a specific campaign that has allowed the organization to reconnect with more than 300 residents.

Other ACR membership development activities already in place will be enhanced in 2012, according to Adams, such as the Practice of Radiology Environment Database (PRED), which has collected more than 27,000 member profiles, giving a clearer picture of member needs and revealing valuable community statistics. New initiatives to increase ACR's strength include the Member-Get-A-Member campaign, Century Club recognition for practices that achieve 100-percent participation, and an Ambassadors Club of past and current ACR leaders who will help communicate the value of membership to others. Details on these endeavors will be conveyed to members in future Bulletin articles with a goal of encouraging replication at the at the grassroots level. Additionally, Adams expects that the redesign of the ACR website, which will feature a customized experience for members based on their individual subspecialty and interests, will help illuminate the value of membership.

But with Adams’ help, showing the importance of ACR membership doesn't end online. The committee is polishing and reconfiguring the Rubik's Cube of benefits to emphasize membership's many offerings — an endeavor Adams also finds personally rewarding. "It's an opportunity to give back to the profession," he says.

By Alyssa Martino

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