Case Study

British Pharmacological Society

The Challenge:

RbD was commissioned by BPS to help better understand the perceptions and needs of members and identify areas for improvement.

The Solution:

RbD conducted qualitative research to explore the current attitudes and perceptions, and this information was then used to develop an online quantitative survey.

Responses to previous surveys for the Society had generally been low with only 8% of members replying to the online survey before RbD’s involvement. RbD was determined to improve response rates and implemented proven techniques for maximising engagement. This resulted in previous response rates being surpassed; 11% of members had completed the survey within 24 hours of it launching and the final response rate from members was 32%.

RbD then carried out secondary research with BPS’s own datasets to better understand why members lapse. For this we used Driver Analysis to extract value and meaning from their member database. This allowed RbD to identify which variables in the dataset had a statistically significant relationship with other key variables and therefore establish triggers to members lapsing.

The Impact:

The results of our work were used to inform strategic objectives across all functional areas of the Society (external affairs, education, membership, meetings, publications, etc.) and to identify how BPS could better support members in their profession. BPS has since developed a number of initiatives aimed at raising their profile, retaining current members and recruiting new members:

The insights provided for the first time by the survey encouraged BPS to:

  • Improve key member services and benefits, most notably its annual Pharmacology meeting, which attracts over 900 attendees and key sponsorship (content and location to be selected based on findings until at least 2016).
  • Pursue more ‘forward thinking’ initiatives on its members’ behalf, including continuing involvement in the Drug Discovery Pathway Group that played an active role in the debate around the Pfizer takeover bid of AstraZeneca (resulted in high value media mentions in Financial Times, BBC, Channel 4 and Reuters) as well as launching new longer-term projects such as competing to host the World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology in 2022, which they have recently been awarded (associated with commercial benefits as well as raising the organisation’s profile)
  • Prioritise engagement with its external audiences, including the first parliamentary reception sponsored by BPS, new investment in public affairs and a review of the organisation’s brand and visual identity.

The results for BPS are some of the most positive we have seen in our work with membership organisations.

“Research by Design took the time to really understand our organisation and how we are trying to deliver our strategic objective to ‘greater match the Society’s activities to the needs of its membership’. They incorporated this knowledge into the research and suggested a number of areas we might have otherwise overlooked. It is often tempting to use an existing supplier, but this is the first time we have used RbD and we are very pleased with their work so far. In fact within the first day of the online survey starting they had exceeded our previous total response rates. The strategic thinking, enthusiasm and excellent communication has been invaluable.”

Katharine Richardson, Head of Communications and Membership

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