Thanks to a the efforts of Virginia Realtors® to get their clients to enroll and a direct-to-homeowner marketing campaign, the Virginia Homeowners Alliance finished 2009 with more than 10,000 members. And while 10,000 homeowners is a significant benchmark to have reached, VAR leaders and staff have decided that an adjustment in strategy for the Virginia Homeowners Alliance program is necessary, due in large part to the expenses we have incurred building an organization based on a strategy to grow membership.
(Long post. More details after the jump…)
The Steering Committee that oversees this program agreed to shift the primary focus of the Virginia Homeowners Alliance program from membership recruitment to homeowner education. Membership recruitment will be a secondary goal; homeowner communication and education will be the primary objective of the Virginia Homeowners Alliance project.
To this end, the Steering Committee adopted a new mission statement and set of strategies.
Mission (what we will do):
The Virginia Homeowners Alliance will 1) inform Virginia homeowners about local and state issues that affect homeowner rights and 2) encourage Virginia homeowners to become active advocates for laws that support homeowner rights in state and local government.
Strategies (our broad objectives):
1. Inform homeowners about local and state issues that affect homeowner rights by maintaining a frequently updated Web site that features stories about current events and trends affecting homeowner rights in Virginia; and sending an e-mail newsletter that educates Virginia homeowners on General Assembly actions affecting homeowner rights in Virginia
2. Encourage Virginia homeowners to become advocates for laws that support homeowner rights in state and local government by using the e-mail newsletter and Web site to encourage homeowners to contact their government officials about statewide or local issues affecting homeowner rights
This adjustment in focus will reduce expenses by about two-thirds. The new tactics include:
- A periodic e-mail newsletter that will be sent to Virginia homeowners about six times per year. Three newsletters will be sent during the General Assembly session to inform homeowners about 5-10 bills that may affect their property ownership. Another newsletter will be sent in June, just before new laws go into effect July 1. Other opportunities to potentially send a newsletter include any special sessions of the General Assembly that Gov. McDonnell may call; July 1, as new laws are taking effect (basically a reprint of the June newsletter); in the run-up to Election Day, if there happen to be ballot initiatives or special elections; and in the closing days of the year, if we feel it would be useful to do a 2011 General Assembly preview.
- Continue to source VaHomeownersAlliance.com articles from media outlets, but also do some original journalism for the Web site.
Some frequently-asked questions:
Q: If membership recruitment is a secondary goal, what happens to all of the homeowner recruitment postcards and incentives for Realtors to sign up clients for the Alliance?
A: The post office box will stay open, and postcards will continue to be collected and added to the Virginia Homeowners Alliance membership database. However, the Realtor incentives/prizes for recruitment ended December 31, 2009.
Q: What will happen to the free drip e-mail marketing product, ClientDirect, that VAR is offering as part of the Virginia Homeowners Alliance project?
A: ClientDirect will continue to be offered to the VAR members who are using it at least through the end of 2010. The Your Virginia Steering Committee will evaluate the use of the program this year and make a determination on whether to continue the product in 2011. In 2010, the VAR staff will also be working to increase member use of ClientDirect.
Q: Will the VAHomeownersAlliance.com Web site get a more interesting design?
A: Yes. The underlying technology is in place and won’t change much. A redesign of the site is budgeted for 2010, and should be completed by the end of the summer (if not sooner). The redesign is primarily a visual upgrade (i.e. better use of color, better navigation, better page layout, etc.).
Q: Can I ask more questions?
A: Yes, just contact Ben [at] VARealtor [dot] com.