Associations are measured on their numbers. If you’re marketing for an association, there are obvious objectives that are top of mind, like gaining new members and retaining current members.
Your potential members want to know “What’s in it for me?” And really, it’s a good question to ask. What does your association have to offer them? Determine your value and communicate that effectively, and in as many ways as possible. What will make others talk about you? It’s about providing them with the value they are seeking and solving the problems they thought you could assist with. It’s also about finding out what they are missing from organizations they are currently part of, and then offering that value to them.
After you acquire a new member you also have to make it a no brainer to renew. Just like anything, it’s easier to keep members than it is to sign new ones, so retention is the best place to start. You have the relationship, so strengthen it. Survey your members, find out what they want the most and give it to them. Use that information to customize your offerings and communications. If they don’t find value, you can kiss their renewal goodbye, right?
Here are 3 ways you can drive the communications:
1) Personalize It: Personalize your marketing whenever possible. This approach helps build a much better relationship with your members. Email and direct mail are the best channels to accomplish this. Personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened. The Direct Marketing Association reports that direct mail brings in 3.6% higher response rate than social media. This means you should be customizing all types of communications and interactions. If you’re not providing an experience that feels personal, you can assume your members feel like a number. And that is never a reason to renew. AGS has expertise in personalizing direct mail. We have a long history of helping associations grow.
2) Stay in Touch Early and Often: Hopefully your marketing, branding and recruitment/sales teams are working together to create cohesive messaging during every stage. Before you start recruiting new members it’s important that your message is getting out as loudly and clearly as possible to create a sense of awareness. Staying in touch should obviously include engaging with your members. There is a strong connection between engagement and value. When people feel involved, they feel valued and in-turn see your organization as valuable.
Begin the renewal process early. Many members do not renew simply because they “forgot.” Remind them early and often. It may take several times of reaching out before you’ll receive a response. Don’t forget to remind them of what they will miss out on if they don’t join, and create a sense of urgency with a “Join NOW!” personalized message. Offering up a discount for early renewal can also be very enticing.
3) Host Events or Hang Out Where Your Members Are: Create “must attend” events that offer speakers on the latest topics that people won’t want to miss. Offer other opportunities like vendor exhibits, where attendees can find the right partners to help grow their business. That can even help grow your own connections with other companies who could potentially become sponsors! Allow members to bring a guest for free to gain more traction.
Other tips: Advertise in industry-specific trade publications, participate in online forums focused on topics related to your industry, or use social media to connect with your members and other experts. You’ll gain credibility and drive up your membership numbers.