Last week’s blog looked at four steps you can take to make your association worth joining. Step two of growing your membership is actively seeking out an effective membership recruitment plan. This is where marketing comes into play. Strong, consistent, and effective marketing is crucial to any association that wants to increase its membership. In other words, it is not enough to simply create enough benefits to make people want to join your association – you must take the time to promote and market your association’s value to draw in new members.
In general, there are four avenues of media that organizations can utilize to reach their audiences: paid, earned, shared, and owned media. Commonly referred to as the PESO Model of Communications, this strategy allows organizations to market their services in an effective and integrated way. Associations can use this strategy to their benefit in membership recruitment marketing:
This option will likely come down to what kind of budget your association offers. A pretty self-explanatory form of marketing, paid media means your association is putting money toward recruiting new members. Even with a small budget, you can create ads via social media or a variety of other platforms that will target specific people. This can prove especially helpful in reaching out to recruit people to join as they are the ones who may not be aware of your association or what it has to offer them. Be sure to track the effectiveness of your advertising to figure out if you are reaching the right audience and spending your valuable dollars correctly.
While paid media is notably effective in reaching new people, earned media will give your association credibility in your industry. Earned media coverage comes when outside sources begin to recognize the value that your organization holds. This value starts with the benefits and services you provide for your association’s members through events, education, networking, and other programs. In the end, though, this comes down to quality and consistency. The more consistently your association can offer notable and useful programs to its industry, the more often you can expect positive reviews and coverage from outside sources.
When it comes to joining an association, industry professionals are mostly likely to trust their peers above anyone else. More than third-party sources or your own advertising, people will rely on those they work with to point them in the right direction. To make sure this direction is toward your association, continue to give your current members good news and association benefits to share to their networks. Interact with members and industry partners online and let them tell the story of your association for you. Consider an ambassador program to encourage members to reach out personally to their networks. You can also seek out members who may be willing to provide testimonials on the benefits of joining your association.
Just like paid media, this is an area where you have specific control over what you choose to promote and where you choose to promote it. It is important to generate your own content so that you can show the world around you the value your association brings to the table. The possibilities here are endless: you can create a blog to showcase your expertise, hold webinars that bring new information to your industry, or share stories across your association’s media channels.
If done correctly, each of these four outlets for sharing media will work together to boost your membership recruitment efforts. Your owned media will become your shared media, which – if used correctly and consistently – will earn you coverage through other sources. All of this will be supplemented by the initial outreach you accomplish with your paid strategy. Make sure to take advantage of all the resources at your disposal by utilizing this communication plan and watch your membership numbers rise.