How One Pharmacist Association Gave Its Membership Numbers a Booster Shot

When the California Pharmacists Association’s growth was declining, digital advertising was the remedy.

Putting out 10 different fires every single day is pretty much par for the course when you’re an association professional. But when your resources are stretched to the limit, the possibility of those fires spreading out of control is alarming.

For Sheila Johnston, senior vice president of business operations at the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA), her organization’s biggest fire was stagnant membership growth. “There are over 40,000 pharmacists in California, but we were hovering at around 10 percent for a long time,” she explained.

Johnston did some digging and found a few quick fixes for issues that were stagnating growth, such as people still paying member rates for classes long after their memberships had expired. “I put a stop to that right away,” she said with a laugh. She researched what else CPhA could do to reverse its downward recruitment and retention trend, and saw that it had a scalability problem. “I could make 40 membership calls a day—which I love to do—but that meant there were 30,000-plus pharmacists who I was not reaching.”

With tens of thousands of potential new members and a small-but-mighty staff of just 13, CPhA turned to digital marketing platform Feathr to increase its reach. And within two years, Johnston reported that the results weren’t just good—they were incredible. CPhA converted more than 100 new members in that period, representing more than $32,000 in revenue. “We had over a 391 percent return on investment,” she said. “It was amazing.”

CPhA utilized Feathr’s email mapping campaign, which allowed it to put ads in front of members wherever they might be on the internet or social media. “They’ll see an ad that is really targeted, such as a special message from our president, which brings them to our website and our latest offerings with one click.”

Johnston has been impressed with Feathr’s ease of use, especially the concierge service that assists with all aspects of creating and placing ads. Not to mention the cost. “A CPhA membership is $490 — if we get just one conversion a month from a $400 campaign, it pays for itself.”

Feathr’s geo-fencing capabilities have been especially effective for targeting members, according to Johnston. “We were able to geo-fence a hotel where one of our competitors was having a conference. So all of their attendees were seeing our ads.” She says CPhA also routinely geo-fences the state capitol. “Legislators will see an ad for one of our bills, and if they click on it, they are brought to a fact sheet on our website,” she explained.

“Feathr has really opened doors for us to compete in a world we never dreamed of,” Johnston said. In addition to measurable gains, the ads also have an intangible benefit, reminding members that CPhA is always working and advocating on their behalf. “Right now, every healthcare provider is being asked to do more than they can probably handle,” said Johnston. “Seeing these ads is a reminder that pharmacists are important—and that whatever they are dealing with, their association is backing them.”

Feathr’s reach hasn’t eliminated Johnston’s personal outreach to members. Instead, it has enhanced it, she said. “I still make those calls because I do love hearing what our members are feeling or experiencing,” Johnston explained. “But on those days that I can’t, it’s nice to know that we have this tool that is tying together all of our efforts from membership to certifications to brand awareness. It’s all a win for us.”

Feathr has thought of everything to help get associations up and running with digital advertising. Their dedicated flock of experts advise on campaign best practices, unique revenue generating campaigns, and graphic designer concierge services to ensure successful campaigns. For CPhA, Feathr has helped elevate the brand, welcome new sponsors, and keep its audience messaging front and center. Partnering with Feathr will ensure your association’s success for years to come.

(Laurynas Mereckas)