Thursday, December 27, 2012

Do One Thing Right? AT&T Gets off track: lesson for association leaders

AT&T's Roadside Assistance Flier in AT&T monthly bill
Last month, Jeff Hoffman wrote a piece in Inc. titled Do One Thing & Do It Better Than Anyone Else. “Become the best darn whatever-you-are that you can be,” Hoffman suggested. “Set aside your other good ideas. The rest will follow. Find your "golden purpose" ... the reason you and your company (association) exist.”

Shortly after seeing Hoffman’s post, my AT&T bill arrived ... and included a flier that “congratulated” me for being a new member of the AT&T Roadside Assistance service. The brochure outlined all the “member benefits” and even included two “membership cards” for the Signature Motor Club & AT&T Roadside Assistance. (Those two different names on one card confused me!)


My initial reaction: “Why the heck is the phone company selling me an auto club service?” 
I thought about responding or blogging or Tweeting this thought ... but, didn’t get around to it.

Then, the other day, my wife came down to say AT&T has just texted her wanting to know if we wanted to continue our Roadside Assistance membership for only $2.99 a month! The AT&T text said we had the service for one free month. My wife cancelled the “membership.”

Now, instead of being confused, I was upset.

AT&T automatically made me a member of their “auto club.” And, the $2.99 membership fee was automatically charged to my phone bill! (Good thing they were smart enough to text us to say we need to decline the membership in order to avoid the $2.99 charge!)
To Hoffman’s point, I don’t understand why AT&T thinks it is in the auto club business.

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On the other hand, perhaps their strategy (automatically making you a member and billing you later) may work for some associations? Just send an “automatic membership” to all nonmembers in your industry or professional. Then, 30 days later, send them the invoice for that membership. (It really works well if you already have their credit card numbers!) And, think of all the new member recruitment costs you can avoid!

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So, tell me what you think about AT&T’s auto club strategy and its “automatic membership” tactic.

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