Updated: Dec 28, 2021
Lodge Marketing & Communications (MarCom) should not be seen only as a means to recruiting new members; appointing a brother to this position can aid a new Worshipful Master in achieving member engagement, retention, and lodge growth goals. Lodges should seek out a digitally-minded brother who is passionate about sharing the stories about what is going on in Lodge and is ready to dedicate one to two hours each week outside the lodge room.
The MarCom Officer should begin his year by taking inventory of the marketing and communications tools the lodge currently uses and what additional tools are available. Next, he should develop and propose a budget for his work for the year and, finally, engage and recruit members of his lodge to support any “in-person” work.
Sign up to follow this blog to stay abreast of emerging Lodge MarCom capabilities as they are made available.
One of the first goals of a lodge MarCom Officer should be to strengthen the excellent work that the lodge is already doing. He should come alongside the activities of the Lodge and message the goings-on to current members. This step is key to ensuring any new members that come into the Lodge are met with a solid and successfully executed masonic experience. In Indiana, MarCom Officers should be listed as an Assistant Secretary in the Grand Lodge Database to access member contact data. This will allow the MarCom Officer to export member lists to programs like Constant Contact, Mailchimp, Wix, Simple Texting, and Calling Post.
Everyone is aware of the burden that our Lodge Secretaries carry. With a close partnership, a Lodge MarCom Officer should remove any task from the secretary that involves communications with the members of the Craft (excluding required communications such as notifications of by-laws updates, etc.) While tools like Facebook and websites are great, they are passive tools which means they must be searched out by the end-user (for more information, Google “Pull Marketing”)
To be an effective means of communication, the message must be pushed to the member. This can be done using several tools, which will be detailed below.
Consider the following technologies for reaching your members:
Direct Mail costs about $0.75 per person; it is highly effective at driving a message but requires time to design, print, stamp, and mail.
Integrated Website and Relationship Management Tool - new opportunities to combine the operations of a website (pull marketing,) a sales/member section, and push marketing opportunities. This is similar to the platform you are reading this on, which was created using wix.com
Calling Post / Dial My Call Audio Telephone Message costs around $0.20 per person; it is moderately effective. The author does feel that this may be becoming less effective as more and more spam phone calls drive people away from listening to calls/voicemail. Also less effective with younger members.
Simple Texting automatically sends text messages to members. The cost is about $0.10 per person and is highly effective. Text messages are fast and quick to read. You can use text messages in conjunction with your lodge website or Facebook page to allow the recipient to learn more about the news by including a hyperlink. (Affiliate Link to Simple Texting)
Note - If you are planning on implementing text messaging and email marketing, consider using Mail Chimp and Simple Texting together as the two tools integrate.
Email Marketing is likely to be free for most lodges to use (using a tool such as Mailchimp) but may incur a cost depending on the size of your lodge and the frequency of messages. Email marketing has seen a decreasing return on effort over the years as email providers continue to incorporate tools that suppress mass mail’s hierarchy in users’ inboxes. Expect only 10-20% of email messages to be read. NOTE: Do not use standard email messaging tools such as “Outlook” or “Gmail” to send messages to your entire Lodge. This may open your lodge up to accidental disclosure of personal information.
There is a lot of potential for a Lodge MarCom Officer. They need to pick two or three communications channels from the above list (or similar products) and start messaging reminders of meals, stated meetings, degree nights (remember to exclude candidate names from these messages,) special events, public opportunities (parade/festival,) ritual practice, funerals, and official visits to other Lodges. Learn more about tools available to communicate at inglmarketing.com/communications.
Marketing - Building on Lodge Communications
While the term "Marketing" may have an odd connotation inside Masonry, it should be looked at in light of the umbrella term and not simply in relation to sales, membership, or revenue. Every three years, the American Marketing Association (AMA) reviews its definition of marketing, updates, and publishes it. The art and science of marketing continue to evolve as arts and sciences tend to do. This is highly apparent as we look at the shift to customer-centric marketing, where marketers not only attempt to lead a potential consumer to a sale but become an advocate for the customer. The goal of this advocacy within the provider's sphere is to foster stronger brand loyalty which should lead to stronger preference and interpersonal advocacy for the brand by those consumers.
The AMA's current definition of marketing is:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. (Approved 2017, Retrieved 12/2021 from https://www.ama.org)
The AMA further breaks down this definition into ten types of marketing:
Search Engine Optimization
Of these, a Lodge's MarCom Officer should focus on:
Relationship - building and maintaining the relationship between the individual member and the Lodge (relationship marketing)
Gorilla - leveraging the unusual, as it relates to society today, tenants of the Craft along with creative and low budget marketing techniques to promote the fraternity,
Outbound - Through the use of small-marketing advertising opportunities, the Lodge MarCom Officer should strategically place pro-active content into their local market discussing public events and other engagement opportunities.
Inbound - activate on opportunities when the public comes to the lodge for information and start them down the path toward participating, in a positive manner, in a relationship,
The Lodge MarCom officer should avoid executing the following types of marketing:
Influencer - While we should be proud of the men who have been or are involved in our fraternity, we should not position brothers of influence who have gained that influence outside of the fraternity as a reason to join the fraternity.
This should not discount the role of one-on-one influence. Brothers should always take the opportunity to speak well of the fraternity to anyone - especially a potential new member.
As discovered through market research conducted by former Sovereign Grand Commander AASR John Wm. McNaughton in his seminal work, Reclaiming the Soul of Freemasonry, aggressively pushing the membership of the Founding Fathers in the Craft may not have the desired effect in the course of that conversation.
Viral - While messages need to be shared within the Craft, attempting to create content for the purpose of "going viral" is a waste of time. Going viral is more about luck than about good marketing and, while it gets tons of attention, it usually isn't going to hit the target that needs to hear your message.
Green - There is little opportunity to position Masonry as "Green" as it isn't a physical product nor a platform for the public support of such a campaign. This direction should not be seen as a position not to make updates to physical buildings to become more environmentally friendly - it shouldn't be used as marketing.
The following may be considered as part of a Lodge MarCom Officer's role but are considered more specialty marketing and may be challenging to execute without advanced training:
Content - Content marketing demands a good publication platform and quality content. Being able to position an individual lodge as a thought leader in the space and backing that position with quality copyrighting at an appropriate frequency is usually outside of the scope of lodge marketing. However, this should not dissuade the Lodge MarCom Officer from writing quality content on the goings-on of his lodge.
Creating social media content would fall under this category.
Keyword - This is a specialty area of marketing related to content marketing where specific keywords are used during content creation.
Search Engine Optimization - This is a specialty area of marketing related to positioning a website to maximize site traffic.
All members of the Fraternity should be well aware that the journey into masonry does not end when the potential member signs his petition and pays his initiation fees, nor when he is raised. These are the beginnings of a life-long relationship with Freemasonry. Not unlike relationships between people, relationships between a person and a brand take work. Relationship marketing is the aspect of marketing where the brand commits time and effort to develop strong emotional bonds that drive a continued value in the minds of our members.
In Part 1, we discussed how communications should be the number one concern of the MarCom Officer and how he can leverage the information in the Grand Lodge Member Database to target electronic communications. From here, we will begin to add in opportunities to continue to develop the all-important relationship between the Lodge and the Brother.
Coordinating the Member Experience
Inside the Lodge, the MarCom Officer should serve as the voice of the Craft as it relates to the ongoing development and growth of the Lodge. He should:
Coordinate with (if not be responsible for) interactions with the Internet Inquiry Committee (the INGL team that localizes potential new candidate leads from indianafreemasons.com and gets them to lodge)
Ensure that individuals who have taken the time and effort to complete the online lead-generation form are brought to the lodge for a meet & greet dinner before a meeting and are generally met with a positive experience.
Coordinate with Lodge leadership to ensure 25 and 50-year awards are scheduled and presented
Coordinate with Lodge leadership to ensure annual feasts are observed
Work to re-engage disengaged members through programming like the Rusty Nail Degree or the Indiana Military Degree of Tribute which may be presented alongside other local lodges.
Additional opportunities can be found in the Grand Lodge of Indiana's Lodge Builder Program (login required)
Section 5 - Fellowship
Section 9 - Lodge Activities
Grand Lodge Database
While the Grand Lodge Database maintenance lies primarily with the Lodge Secretary, this is one place where the lodge MarCom Officer can assist when necessary. Ensuring that the Grand Lodge Database remains updated and new information is communicated into the tool as quickly as possible is essential. The lodge MarCom Officer should:
Work with the Lodge Secretary to make sure that a new member's information is entered into the Grand Lodge Database the same evening that a candidate progresses through the degrees of Masonry
About one month after a brother is raised, ensure he has been able to set up his member portal login
Work with less tech-savvy members of the lodge to set up their member portal and ensure their personal information is up to date
Add all upcoming events and meeting dates to the Lodge Portal
In addition to the Grand Lodge Portal - there is one other portal that should be maintained:
Amity App - This app allows traveling brothers to find your lodge and understand if it is recognized by your Grand Lodge. MarCom Officers should download the Amity App and ensure that your lodge data is up to date within the app. If changes need to be made and you are a member of the Grand Lodge of Indiana, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with specifics on what needs to be updated for your lodge.
The intersection of the Database & Member Experience: Members' Portal & Automated Messaging
While not something that occurs at the Lodge level, the Grand Lodge uses the database to provide members-only information through the online member's portal along with automated email reminders of the day each member received their Master Mason degree via an automated email. At the Lodge level, a MarCom Officer can use the tool to send birthday cards to members during the month of their birthday, and, for members who do not usually attend Lodge, include a brief invitation to come back and visit.
The intersection of Information & Member Experience: Websites, Newsletters, & Social Media
The core tools used to activate the opportunity between information and member experience should be your multichannel informative content. This content should be more in-depth than your targeted communications and tell the ongoing story of what is going on in your Lodge. This should be considered inbound content because it is generally not pushed to members or consumed similarly to pushed marketing.
The Lodge Experience - The MarCom Officer should ensure that appropriate marketing collateral is available in the lodge building. This begins at the front, door where information on membership, officer contact information, and times when the building will be open are prominently displayed. Additionally, the lodge MarCom Officer should ensure that informational FAQ-cards are available either inside the building or on a covered area outside of the building.
The following is a great start on an informational brochure that should go inside any main door to your building's window. This was adapted from a piece supplied by Beech Grove Lodge No. 694 - F&AM, Indiana
Websites - Websites are important as a go-to for people to find on-demand information about your Lodge. With this being said, a website can be as simple as a single-page free site or as complex as a multipage site with a members section. Even if you decide not to use a website, be sure to set up your Google Business Profile for your Lodge as it provides a quick reference to people searching for your Lodge.
Social Media - While this may seem like a push tactic because the content is served into followers' feeds, the reality is that only 2-5% of your page's followers will see your organic post. Because of this, your social media profile should be considered as a content hub where interested persons can come and learn more about your Lodge.
Newsletters - We categorize items like a snail or electronic mail newsletter and magazine in this category as there is an investment by the recipient to read the piece. Unlike a postcard or single-page letter, the hope is that the recipient comes back to the piece rather than read it and discard it. These resources can take a good bit of time to produce and can have a high cost per impression as direct mail is expensive.
The intersection of the Database & Information: Targeted Communications
This section was covered in-depth earlier in the Communications section. The Grand Lodge Database must remain the gold standard for housing member information. Both Grand Lodge and Lodges should use the information contained to ensure that they deliver push marketing to all members.
Outbound Marketing for Non-Members
In addition to the work that the Lodge MarCom Officer does to push communication to members, it is crucial for lodges to get out into the public and to get the public into the building. An individual lodge should not be expected to place mass media campaigns on their own; however, if there are multiple lodges within proximity, there is an opportunity to work together with a media agency to place more "top of funnel" advertising.
Individual Lodge Outbound Marketing Opportunities:
Participate in a Parade
Reward an Eagle Scout* (INGL Program Information)
Recognize a First Responder/Nursing Staff* (INGL Program Information - Indiana Grand Lodge Member Login Required, available upon request.)
Host a Flag Retirement Ceremony along with political leaders and scouts*
Host a dinner for members of DeMolay
Advertise Lodge free to the public/fundraising events* (pancake breakfast, fish fries, public egg hunts, etc.) and set up an informational booth.
*Recommend sending a media advisory to local news agencies seven days in advance with a reminder the morning of. If no one picked up the story, we recommend sending a press release with a complete story and pictures of the following to local print/digital publishers along with publication on social media.
Pooled Lodge Outbound Marketing Opportunities:
Not Just a Man Billboards
Radio Commercial** (ask about live reads before things like traffic reports)
Example of a 5-second live read:
Weather sponsored by Indiana Freemasons. Indiana Freemasons have helped make good men great for over 200 years - learn more at indianafreemasons.com
Host a Car Show - Set up an informational booth
Run a 30-second TV Commercial on local TV/local Cable**
Download the non-GL specific spot ( Scottish Rite NMJ )
**When buying mass advertising - be sure to buy shows and times that would attract men of good character.
Driving low cost, high frequency, and high impact messaging is the core of gorilla marketing. While many books are written on the topic, we will only recommend that the lodge MarCom director remember that the biggest risk to gorilla marketing is that it can go off of the rails if the marketing tactic is not strongly aligned to the thing being marketed. As it relates to marketing the Craft, this means the tactic, event, or activity must align 100% with the tenants of Masonry in order not to stain the public's perception of the Craft.
If you are interested in this type of marketing, it would be best to learn more by reading more about it as there are no "pre-baked" guerrilla marketing tactics - it is up to the MarCom Officer and other creative members to develop them. Here are some of the more popular books written on the topic:
Note - These books contain affiliate links but would have been recommended regardless.