Referrals are honestly the best way to recruit new members: For one thing, it means the members that are talking you up are loyal and engaged. On the flip side, the new members being referred are likely to come into membership excited and ready to engage, too.
Creating a strategic referral program really boils down to the good ol’ five W’s:
1. Who? (Target Audience)
You’ll want to start by looking at your organization’s overall recruitment strategy. What kind of members are you currently hoping to recruit - students, millennials, retirees? Determine these segment(s) first - or, if it will be an open referral program! You can always change it up and try different groups throughout the year.
Then, determine who your most engaged members are in those segments. You’ll want to open the referral program to your entire membership, of course, but make an effort to more directly reach out to your highly engaged members (with a phone call or visit, perhaps) since they’ll be more likely to participate and have good leads.
2. What? (Incentive)
The incentive is important. While some will refer you simply out of their own passion for the organization, most members will need a little encouragement to take the time to convince a colleague to join.
Don’t feel like it has to be a monetary incentive - just think about what is important to your members. It could be VIP access to a popular event, additional exposure in your publications, complimentary online directory enhancements for a year, etc.
3. When? (Timing)
As you promote your referral program (more on that in a second), you’ll want to tie a deadline to it. That way, your members will feel a sense of urgency...and, they can’t come back to you a year after you started promoting this particular program and expect to receive the incentive.
Additionally, consider what time of year you hold the referral program. For example if your target is college students, you’ll want to start around August when they’ll be returning to school, whereas a recent graduate referral program should start around April or May.
4. Where? (Promotion)
Think about the communication channels that members are most receptive to (email, social media, text message, etc.) and set up a couple campaigns. Build regular communications until the deadline, while emphasizing said deadline as it gets closer.
If you can, consider including testimonials of members who either referred or joined through referral. This will help members relate to their own network to determine who to recruit, and show them that it’s an effective way to create a more engaging and fulfilling membership for all!
5. Why? (Just...why?)
At MemberClicks, everything comes back to The Why. Ask yourself these questions, and communicate the answers in your promotion:
- Why should your members help you recruit?
- Why would a bigger, more engaged membership be meaningful to them?
- Why will this help achieve the overall mission?
Likewise, help your members answer these questions for when they start talking to their colleagues about membership:
- Why did they join the organization to begin with?
- Why is this organization important to them and their profession or community?
- Why do they keep coming back?
Did you know that MemberClicks has a referral program? If you have any association or chamber colleagues that you know are searching for a new membership management system, we would love an introduction! You can learn more about our program and submit your referrals here!