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8 Ways to Increase Association Membership
Memberships are the lifeblood of many associations, and for good reason – they represent professionals that establish standards and ethics in a given industry and, more importantly, they drive revenue. That’s why each year, association managers are tasked with one very special goal: TO INCREASE MEMBERSHIPS! If your association membership numbers have been flat or, if even worse, you are losing members, you may need some fresh ideas to pump up your numbers. Start by putting yourself in the shoes of a potential member… Why would they join? What’s in it for them? And for a new member, what would make them stay after their initial year?
There is definitely strength in numbers, so how can you give your membership count a boost? I’ve rounded up a few simple ideas that are easy to implement and will help to get your creative juices pumping during your next strategy session.
1. Market where your members hang out
If you’re a professional business organization, advertise in an industry-specific publication, participate in LinkedIn discussions focused on topics related to your industry, or use social media to tweet about industry news using #hashtags that will generate followers or endorsers. Go where your members are and you will be able to find new members/leads to mine.
2. Host events that professionals will want to attend.
Associations are known for their professional events – whether it is an annual expo, a quarterly lunch & learn or an online webinar. These types of professional events drive millions of attendees each year. Make your events “must attend” affairs by offering fresh speakers (those that have not made the rounds of every other industry event) and sought-after topics. You’ll gain credibility and the opportunity to add additional members. A bonus idea: recruit new members by allowing attendees to bring a “guest”, gratis.
3. Have a membership drive.
Develop an annual membership drive and reward those who generate the highest number of new members.
4. Get feedback from current members.
How will you know what to improve upon if you don’t know what is wrong? By asking your current member base for their opinions, you’ll be able to adjust your membership benefits to appeal to the masses. Create an annual member survey to collect feedback. If the responses evoke a change in member benefits, make sure to broadcast this to your current members. They will not only be impressed that you’ve addressed their concerns, but they will likely spread the word to non-members. Plus, your new benefit perks will automatically elicit a positive response.
5. Keep existing members happy.
Increasing your membership count also means retaining current members. The fewer you lose, the easier it will be to reach your annual growth goal. New members, those within their first year of membership, are at the greatest risk for drop-off. For these members, develop a drip email campaign that will touch these members several times within the first year. For all other members, consider reaching out beyond email – at events, via direct mail or social media – to stay top-of-mind and to communicate continuing benefits.
6. Provide a personalized membership card.
By providing your new members with a professional membership kit and card, they will feel like they are a part of something special while being reminded of all the great benefits they will receive with their membership. A membership card can provide access to events, information and partner benefits (i.e. car rental discounts) and keep your organization top of mind all year long.
8. Begin the renewal process early.
Most members do not renew because they simply “forgot.” Remind members early (and often) to renew their memberships. It may take several “touches” before you’ll receive a response. Also, in your correspondence, remind them of all the great benefits that they receive (and what they’ll miss if they don’t renew).
9. “Join NOW!”
Create urgency by offering potential members a substantial discount for joining on the spot.
As you can see, these ideas are simple, easy-to-implement and will help get your creative juices pumping for even more ideas! Sometimes you just need to ask yourself “what would entice me to join?”
Want more membership tips? Check out our post on How to Retain Members!