Elkhorn, Nebraska-based Waterloo #102 A.F. & A.M. had recently raised Brandscapes’ owner John Hardy as a Master Mason. Knowing his marketing background they approached him, asking for assistance to address their struggle of attracting new members. The Lodge’s median age was approaching 80 years and they hadn’t raised a new Master Mason in almost 5 years. This put stress on the Lodge because the aging members had less ability to organize and manage fundraisers and Lodge members were serving more time as officers than typically expected and were experiencing burnout.
Research revealed that public relations and visibility were key problems. Technology had passed them by and prospecting members at the donut shop wasn’t cutting it any longer. Brandscapes was tasked with several committees and went to work on Member Recruitment, Public Relations and Fundraising.
Waterloo Lodge was originally chartered in 1883 in Waterloo, Nebraska, their namesake, but the building burned down in the late 1960s prompting them to move to their present location in Elkhorn, Nebraska. The new location was already determined because one of the members owned land on the corner of 203rd and Hopper Street. This Lodge has the longest proficiency streak in the state at 68 years, meaning that they are one of the few lodges in Nebraska that are still able to confer degrees on new Masons.
To elaborate, there are three degrees of Masonry that are presented as plays. The first, Entered Apprentice, is a lesson about youth and beginning a career. Fellow craft Degree represents middle age and morality and the final degree, The Master Mason, represents the end of life and contributing to society. A Lodge’s ability to perform these degrees upon a candidate are regulated by the state and you are not allowed to do them if you are not Proficient, or licensed to do so. The fact that Waterloo 102 was able to do this work made it much easier to schedule the degrees and bring in new candidates.
A goal of three new candidates per year was established with the hope of giving new life to this weary Lodge and we got to work.
You can get a lot done when your brothers pitch in. Using the past as a base, Brandscapes was able to help build a solid foundation for Waterloo Lodge #102’s future. With the younger new crop of candidates to balance the Greatest Generation Waterloo Lodge #102 is once again able to meet “On The Level".
Brandscapes' first step was obtaining their membership list. The members list had 92 members with addresses but most of the phone numbers were out-of-date. However, with current addresses Brandscapes created a direct mail survey with the objective of learning the members’ perception of the Lodge’s brand. The results of the survey revealed that most of the members felt the Lodge was invisible and wasn’t supporting the community like they had in the past. In addition to checking the pulse of the Lodge the survey allowed Brandscapes a way to collect current phone numbers and email addresses. We collected this information for 50% of the list. Age being a factor there were still members that believed computers were a fad.
Having new contact information and a lifeline to several knowledgeable mentors we were able to learn more about the history of the Lodge and Masonry. The “On The Level” campaign was kicked-off with an Open House that was published in the local newspaper and to the Events section on a fresh Facebook page. This Facebook page was designed to be our main line of communication until the website was finished.
Brandscapes searched for Masonic imagery to use on the website but there was very little copyright free material and a ton of redundant stereotypical skulls, compasses and tools. While searching we came across an illustrator that had the perfect art to go with our “On The Level” theme. Masons make many references to working tools including the plumb, square and level and incorporate tools into life lessons. We struck a deal with the artist to use his work as background images on the website in exchange for links to his website and a credit line on the site.
Adding to what we started we simultaneously launched an e-Commerce website to sell Masonic apparel to other Masons and Lodges across the State. The stickiness of this website was the fact that it had updated square-and-compass logos (that we trademarked) and the clothing and accessories were a lot more trendy and they caught on quickly.
We also, as a Lodge, distributed invitation cards to prospects and people we met whom we thought may be a candidate of high moral value or expressed leadership qualities. The QR code on the back of the card plays up on the mystery of Masonry and takes them to a non-navigable page on the website that greets them with a skull and crossbones, yes, stereotypical but effective here for the mystery.
The Open House was attended by 16 prospective members and their families. Burgers, brats, a movie and some Masonic Education showed them we weren’t the secret society portrayed on the History Channel, but rather a philanthropic fraternity that raises money for many good causes. Five of the 16 prospects petitioned to join that evening and with the momentum from that evening the Lodge raised nine candidates to Master Mason in the past year and three more are scheduled to be raised this month. We surpassed our goal by 300% in one year and the Grand Lodge of Nebraska has been in close communication to help solve a statewide problem of dwindling membership.
The Facebook page is consistently being updated with events and educational facts about Masonry and has become an active hotspot for the Lodge. While meager in comparison to large business, the non-profit website has been averaging 91 users and 183 page views/month, 3-minute session duration and a very low bounce rate, indicating interest and possible new members are seeking more information.