Membership drives are the bread and butter of any association. Regardless of your format, whether you’re a standalone association or one with a federated structure, if you aren’t bringing in new members that you eventually retain, your numbers will stay stagnant or – worse – drop.
Perhaps you’ve hit a rough patch and are looking to reinvigorate your association, maybe you want to inject some new energy into it or maybe you have another reason altogether, but, the one fact that remains is that your next membership drive needs to be a success. Are you prepared to make it happen?
Check out the 7 essential tips below for making your next membership drive a success. The biggest surprise here? Very few of these tips have much to do with the event itself – the biggest indicator of a membership drive’s success is controlled by you: what happens before and after the actual event.
This should be a given. But, in case it’s not, it’s worth mentioning. Just because an event sounds enticing to you, or like something your staff members would like to be a part of, the purpose of a membership drive is to attract potential members.
Consider the following questions when looking into venues and event formats:
- What drives my members?
- Where do they spend their free time?
- What trends or activities do I hear discussed among my members?
- What are my members’ schedules – are they free in the mornings, evenings, weekends?
If a membership event doesn’t appeal to your target audience, it’ll fall flat before it even starts.
- Pick an Incentive
Even if your event is planned around something your potential members absolutely love, there’s nothing wrong with adding a little extra incentive. Whether it’s a drawing for a prize (gift card, vacation, television – the options are endless), a free meal, a discount on registration or something else, you want to have something that becomes the focus point of your event. If potential members catch onto the fact that the whole purpose of the event is to sell them memberships, they’re likely to be less interested. Instead, make the focus the opportunity to participate in something great or to receive a great prize. A little excitement can go a long way.
- Invest in a Proper List
If your membership events are falling short over and over again, it’s likely because you’re working from the same list. Mixing it up and branching out to new markets could increase your success. To make this happen, consider:
- Asking each member to invite one professional contact that would qualify for membership in your association.
- Creating a contest among members for who invites the most attendees to the event.
- Hiring a temporary employee or contractor to mine local directories for contact information that is publically available.
- Advertising in a new medium or through a new social network online.
- Get Personal
One of the best ways to create connections is to make the effort up front by getting personal. Send out personalized invitations, make calls and do whatever you can to create a relationship before the membership event even takes place. Keep track of who you’ve followed up with personally and ask if you can count on their attendance.
- Invite them In
Have a private online community, like Social HubSite, set up for your association? Great! Why not invite potential members into it?
By creating a new group that’s for potential members (and includes existing members), you can allow them to witness the benefits of joining your association first hand. In the meantime, they’ll be creating their own relationships and learning about what you have to offer, without any extra effort on your part. If you want them to want to join, you’ve got to invite them into your online community.
- Encourage Existing Members to Buddy Up
Sometimes resources are limited; there’s no denying this simple fact. To overcome this obstacle, enlist the help of your most active and loyal existing members.
Assign each member who is willing to help a potential attendee or two. Ask them to follow up and to forge a relationship. When someone has built a relationship, they’re more likely to be willing to step out and attend an actual event, like a membership drive.
- Follow Through
Once the event takes place – remember, this piece is all about reaching out before and after for actual success – remember the importance of following through. At your drive, you likely gave out a lot of information; that can be overwhelming. Even if you offered an extra incentive for joining during the actual event, some people just need time to think things through. This is okay; it doesn’t mean the potential member is lost.
However, if they are to join your association, effort is required on your part. Ask members to follow through with those they came in contact with during the event and follow up yourself. Consider offering a post-event incentive for registration.
Your next membership drive can be different from your last one and – with a little preparation – you can see a measurable increase in its success. Follow the 7 tips above and get started today.