If there’s one common goal for associations and chambers across the globe, it’s grow, grow, grow.
But you know as well as we 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?
Try out these three tactics to bump up your organization’s member recruitment game:
1. Get serious about social media
Having a presence on social media is most commonly associated with boosting member engagement. But while social media is certainly a good tool for engaging your members, it’s also a great tool for recruiting new members.
Social media, believe it or not, has a pretty substantial impact on search engine optimization (SEO). When you search for a company or organization on Google (or the search engine of your choice), many times, you’ll notice one or more of their social media accounts show up on that first page of the search results. And often, searchers will click on those pages before clicking on the company or organization’s actual website.
Below is an example of what you would see if you searched “MemberClicks” on Google. See how the third and fourth pages listed are two of our social media accounts?
So what does that mean as far as member recruitment goes? Well first, it means your organization really should have a presence on social media. (You don’t have to be active on ALL social media platforms, but I’d encourage you to consider Facebook and LinkedIn at the very least.) Second, it means those pages need to be fully optimized. They need to have a short description of your organization, primary contact information, a link back to your organization’s website, 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 (particularly to join) right then and there? Eliminating any and all barriers to entry is the KEY to getting prospects to take that next step.
Bonus tip: If you really want to utilize social media as a tool for member recruitment, consider experimenting with social media advertising. Social media platforms allow you to get very granular in terms of who you’re targeting. You can target people based location, occupation, age, special interests, etc., meaning you can get your messaging in front of the right people — those who would benefit greatly from a membership with your association or chamber. Not sure how to advertise on social media? For Facebook advertising tips, check out our post, Member Recruitment Tactics: Is Paid Digital Marketing the New Direct Mail? And for LinkedIn advertising tips, check out our post, How to Advertise on LinkedIn: A Guide for Association Professionals.
2. Tap into your existing member base
You know who knows other people in your organization’s industry the best? Your members! They work with them day-in and day-out; they’re friends with them.
Use that to your organization’s advantage! Create some sort of formal membership referral program, if you don’t have one already. The better the incentive(s) you can offer (a discounted membership rate, a discounted event registration rate, etc.), the more interest and the better results you’re likely to see.
Bonus tip: Having an ongoing referral program in place is both good and necessary, but if you really want to see results, consider launching a special, time-sensitive campaign. For example, if a member refers someone in the month of March, they get an extra 10 percent off membership AND a VIP upgrade to your annual conference. Bumping up the reward and limiting the time in which people can take advantage of it sparks action. With a standard, 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 (or both), 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 and chamber can certainly help with.
Connect the dots there! Create a special email marketing or direct mail campaign targeted at the employers of your ideal members (the managers and executive leaders, likely). For example, if you work for an educators association, rather than targeting just teachers, you may want to launch a special campaign targeting superintendents and principals. Encourage them to encourage their staff members to join. Their word likely carries a lot more weight than yours, so get them on your side!
Bonus 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. Everyone likes to save money, so if that’s something you offer or are willing to offer, let the employers of your ideal members know. (Hey, they might even be willing to pay those membership fees for their employees. Again, they want the best of the best, so that may be an investment they’re willing to make.)
How else can you market your association or chamber to grow big time in 2020? For more tips and ideas, check out our free guide below!
Note: This post was originally published on 9/26/18, but updated 3/2/20 for added value.