Recruiting members for your association is a critical acquisition in the new year. According to Association Metrics, associations constantly struggle to increase their membership size, for a variety of reasons. Recruiting requires effort and purpose, taking that extra step to pique a potential member’s interest to join, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s not enough to have a website and hope people find you and join; you have to seek them out and always be actively searching for these potential members. Here are the top three tips for member recruiting to keep a steady and consistent flow of new members for your association.
1. Create a Referral Program With Incentives
One of the best ways to recruit new members to your association is by getting your current members to promote you within their networks. Current members understand the value of the association and growing membership can help support your efforts naturally, while also creating an excellent experience for the new members. Their network of friends, colleagues, associates, and even acquaintances usually share similar interests and will more likely be supportive of your mission. Additionally, most people trust and value the opinion of those they know, so if their friend is recommending the association to them, they’ll give it more consideration.
Give your existing members a little incentive to bring in new potential members. If the referred individuals join, there are two directions you could take to incentivize your current members. The first path is offering a little something such as a discount on their next dues payment or as simple as a gift card. The other path could be a tiered system of incentives that are paid out depending on the level or amount of membership the individual joins at- the higher the membership, the bigger the incentive.
2. Host a Free Event Open to Non-Members
To best quote Socrates: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” If a potential member has never heard of your association, then they don’t know the benefits they are missing out on. Hosting a free event can entice them to sign up for a membership by giving them a chance to experience what your association offers through either networking opportunities or something exclusive, like access to a research study or paper that has high value for the industry or a member conference.
A great example would be opening up access to a special event and inviting a keynote speaker in your industry or community–either about your organization or something relevant to it. For larger in-person events, you can also boost appeal with live music, refreshments, and free food – everybody has to eat, right? These types of events are a great way to showcase the incredible partnership members can experience and they leave a lasting impression. Events also provide multiple recruitment channels through advertising on social media platforms, emails, and flyers. Keep track of the non-member attendees to keep in touch, so even if they don’t sign up at the event you can keep in touch and try again.
3. Partner with Other Associations
Membership growth is often driven by a sense of community. This is something to be tapped into. According to Association Marketing Online, membership recruitment is about creating long-lasting relationships and finding people in your community and industry who could truly benefit from your group. Think about other associations and how their work compliments yours, then try to identify ways to join and collaborate with theirs. Collaboration could include sponsoring each other’s events, providing special discounts to members, hosting a joint event, or even cross-promoting events or programs. The advantage is two-fold: your partner’s members get an introduction to your organization, and your members have value added to their memberships with the benefits from your partner’s association.
Even though recruiting new members into your association is critical, don’t forget to have fun. With a little out-of-the-box thinking, member recruitment can take on a fun and engaging light that sparks new trends and growing numbers. Engaging and enlisting new people can be an exciting experience. If you’re looking for even more fun and creative ways to grow your organization, Core Affinity is here to help your association. Contact us today and let the recruiting commence!