April 26, 2016
As an association executive, chances are that you’ve heard how important it is to retain members - over and over. Without members, your association is nothing. This concept is something that probably keeps you up at night. Associations get so fixated on retaining members, that they may forget how to effectively recruit them. Running an association is like running a business, there is a strategy for everything. Is your association recruiting 5 star members? If not, we have some tips to improve your recruiting class this season.
Members: They keep your association running. Without them, all of your hard work would be for nothing. While it’s critical to retain current members, it would be impossible to do that without recruiting them first. Associations need members in order to function - they need the capital. That’s why it’s imperative that you and your staff understand how to properly recruit new members. If you’ve seen a decrease in member enrollment, it may be time to change your tactics. In an age when engaging and retaining are top priorities, we can’t overlook recruiting.
It’s no secret that technology has changed how organizations run their operations. Social media and technological advancements have forced us to adjust our practices - and this goes for recruiting. If you want to make the most out of your recruiting strategy, it must be malleable. Associations must be willing to adapt and change their practices in order to recruit a new class of members.
Associations are now dealing with a different force - millennials. They are quickly making their way into the association space. If you want to improve your recruitment efforts, you will need to appeal to the younger generation. To do this, associations must understand what makes millennial members different. These members expect instant gratification and want things to be done on their terms. If associations adjust their current practices to appease these members, they can increase their incoming class of members.
First things first: What is a 5 star member? This is your association’s ideal member. If you could draw the perfect member, what would they look like? Every association may be different, but they all have a specific member they want to target. Think of these members as marking every checkbox on your member checklist:
Success doesn’t happen by chance - it takes patience, tenacity and a hefty plan of action. Your association may already have a recruitment strategy, but it may need to be adjusted in order to improve its success. In order to do this, associations must understand its value proposition. What are the things about your association that make it unique? What is your niche? Members join your association because they find value in their memberships. It’s up to you to figure out why.
Additionally, your association will need to understand what members want. If you offer these items, great! If not, you have the ability to adjust in order to comply with their desires. In order to properly execute this strategy, association executives must sit down and establish their goals. By outlining what you would like to accomplish, you can align these objectives with your strategy.
If you’re going to market your association to prospective members, you must understand what they are looking for. By understanding what your current members value in their memberships - you can effectively promote your membership experience. If you’re unsure as to how to get these insights - take a look at your data. Data tracking allows your association to gain insights into what engages your members.
Every association has its own niche - what is yours? If you want to not only recruit members, but the best members, you will need to get to know them. Who are you reaching out to? What do your members value? Who is your typical member? These are all questions you must answer in order to market to them properly. Prospects only want to read relevant information that pertains specifically to them. Your marketing efforts must coincide with your audience.
If your association is like many - it probably has a small staff. Your membership “department” may consist of one or two people who have an abundance of responsibilities. If your association wants to recruit successfully, it can’t solely rely on the membership department and/or committee. It’s important to make recruiting an organization-wide effort. By incorporating different departments, your association will be able to cover more ground.
It would be a shame to miss out on great members because your association didn’t value social media. By promoting your recruiting efforts on your social media platforms, your audience broadens and you have the ability to reach a multitude of people. Hosting an event for non-members? Share it on Facebook! Offering a new member discount? Send out a tweet.
There are many ways to utilize social media. Associations must first create their accounts and begin building their audience. By attaching your social media sites to emails, promoting them on your website, and asking for members to follow/like you will build your following.
By using a membership database, you will be able to track engagement. At the end of the day, recruiting new members is a sales process. In order to see what engages prospects, you will need to check out your data. These databases can keep track of website traffic, click-thrus, event registrations and social media efforts - all valuable data. Maybe there’s a specific time in the year that prospects entertain the idea of joining association? By analyzing your data, you will be able to test different initiatives and adjust them as needed.
Recruiting is one the most important aspects of any functioning association. If your recruitment strategy isn’t doing its job - your association could see the effects. Improving recruitment efforts could lead to increased member engagement and revenue. Often times, the idea that retaining members takes precedent, but it’s important to remember that recruitment is just as vital.
To learn more about reaching out to new members, check out our whitepaper, “Grow Your Association.”