Renewal Drivers From CQ Roll Call and Brief Media

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"You have to be proactive and anticipate what a client wants even before they know they want it," Kristina Dorsey, client director at CQ Roll Call, told us at a Customer Onboarding and Retention event earlier this year. "It's about making sure that our clients are educated on our value proposition, and know that we're the only one doing this—legislative tracking, advocacy, and news and analysis—as well as keeping up with what's going on with the market."

Elizabeth Green, CEO of Brief Media, also talked about the concept of the "one and only" being a key to renewals during her keynote at BIMS last week. When she saw how popular author Donald Plumb was in the industry, she approached him and said that they could give him more exposure. That led to content that could be accessed daily instead of a one-off book, a Q&A session at a conference—"No other conference has this amazing privilege"—and the launching of a new app.

"The clinking of champagne glasses you heard is that at 11 am this morning we hit the million-dollar mark for the year on Dr. Plumb's revenue—$84.95 each time someone subscribes," Green told us. "And renewal rates are 85-90%. It's the fastest growing part of our business."

When it comes to renewals, reminding subscribers of what they would be losing—in Brief Media's case, Dr. Plumb's content—is preeminent. "Great renewal copy threatens a loss—of security, well-being, opportunity, or all three," Jim Sinkinson wrote in his Commandments for a High-ROI Renewal Series.

Here are four other commandments from Sinkinson:

1. Remind subscribers of your big promise—how are you improving their lives every day. Every element in your renewal series should be doing this.

2. Portray a vivid, scary future absent the benefits you provide (e.g. inside advice, competitive intelligence).

3. Don't limit renewal efforts to invoice look-alikes. Added inserts (e.g., questionnaires, lift letters) work.

4. Stay in constant contact. More notices are usually better. Don't forget renewal-at-birth and regular expire programs.

Dorsey gave these successful efforts towards renewals in her session.

5. Make in-person visits. "There is a lot to be said about in-person visits—it's one of the most overlooked things," she said.

6. Provide internal training. "Make sure that people inside your organization are emphasizing and representing the organization how you want them to."

7. Educate your clients. This is incredibly important, Dorsey said. "What do people want to know about? First, how to be successful and second, figuring out what other people are doing."

8. Provide handouts and takeaways. Dorsey wants to address the post-session feeling of clients who say, "I totally forgot how I do that when I left the building." "The handouts reiterate exactly what we showed them so they can quickly emulate what we did. Think of it as an instruction manual that you're leaving with them afterwards."

9. Add personal touches. Dorsey said this may sound "corny and cheesy" but it works. "I realized pretty quickly that this goes a long way. She sends handwritten thank-you notes for high-dollar clients—something she learned from her mother. And she buys cupcakes. She sent them to one client after an in-person meeting, writing that, "we're thinking of you." "They still remember that during every renewal," she said.

10. Build a continuous feedback loop. Make clients feel they have impact on what you're creating, Dorsey said. She told of a time they had to overhaul the interface. "We had clients come into our office, give testimony to our product team. Any time they feel have a direct channel, not just to the CSM

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…