If there’s one common goal for associations across the globe, it’s grow, grow, grow.
But we know as well as you do, easier said than done. So where are some of the best places to find new members? Are there any “hot spots” you’re currently leaving untapped? Here are three ways to bump up your association’s member recruitment game:
1. Get serious about social media
Social media is most commonly thought of as a tactic for member engagement. And while it is great for engaging your existing members, it’s also a great tool for recruiting new members.
First, social media helps with search engine optimization (SEO). If you search for any company or organization on Google, you’ll notice that their Facebook and/or Twitter page(s) are among the first to come up. And often, searchers will click on those pages before clicking on the company or organization’s actual website. That means 1) you need basic social media accounts in place (Facebook and LinkedIn, at the very least), and 2) those pages need to be optimized (they need to have a company description, URL, contact info, etc.). Think of a prospect winding up on your Facebook page before ever visiting your organization's website. Are you presenting your organization the way you’d like to? Can they access all the information they might need - who you are, how long you’ve been around, how to join, etc. - right then and there? Eliminating any and all barriers to entry is the KEY to getting prospects to take that next step.
Pro tip: If you really want to utilize social media as a member recruitment tool, consider experimenting with advertising. Social media sites allow you target people based on very specific criteria (age, location, occupation, personal interests, etc.), so you can easily find people who would be perfect candidates for membership. For tips on how to advertise on Facebook, check out our post, Member Recruitment Tactics: Is Paid Digital Marketing the New Direct Mail? For tips on how to advertise on LinkedIn, check out our post, How to Advertise on LinkedIn: A Guide for Association Professionals.
2. Tap into your existing member base
You know who best knows other people in your organization’s industry? Your members! They work with them on a day-to-day basis; they’re friends with them.
Use that to your organization’s advantage! Create some sort of formal member referral program, if you don’t have one already. The better incentives you can offer (discounted membership rates, discounted event rates, etc.), the better results you’re likely to see.
Pro tip: Having an ongoing referral program in place is both good and necessary, but if you really want to see results, consider creating special, time-sensitive campaigns. For example, if a member refers someone in the month of December, they get an extra 10 percent off membership AND a VIP upgrade to your annual conference. Bumping up the reward and shorting the period in which people can receive it stimulates action. With an ongoing referral program, members may think, “Oh, I can do that anytime.” But with a time-sensitive referral campaign, members start to think, “Oh, I need to do that NOW.”
Experiment with different incentives and see what works best!
3. Reach out to companies within your industry
As part of your current recruitment strategy, you’re probably targeting potential members directly, maybe by email or direct mail, but have you ever considered targeting the companies they work for?
Companies want the best of the best, particularly in today’s competitive workforce. They want their employees to have the sharpest skills and to stay on top of the latest trends and best practices - something your association can certainly help with.
Connect the dots there! Create special email marketing or direct mail campaigns targeted at department leaders/managers within your industry. For example, if you work for a teaching association, you may want to target the Superintendent and/or Principal of a certain school. (The goal here is to get them to encourage their staff members to join.)
Pro tip: To really spark some action, consider offering some type of group discount. If two or more members join, they get a discounted membership rate of X. (Note: You may already offer organizational memberships with discounted rates, and that’s exactly what we’re talking about here! Market those organizational memberships to people in your industry with seniority.)
Now those are just a few ways to step up your association’s member recruitment game, but if you’d like more tactics to leverage and experiment with, check out our free Small-Staff Guide to Association Marketing below.