Associations on the move. Find out how some are adapting to a dynamic membership landscape.
For many associations, members are the lifeblood of their success. That’s why it’s essential for these organizations to ensure that their membership recruitment tactics leverage new technology and adapt to the ever-changing needs of their members.
That means adapting to—and anticipating—evolving member needs to improve member communication and outreach, and tailoring benefits and programs to be more relevant and appealing for younger generations.
A late-July text poll conducted by Avenue M revealed that over half—52 percent—of associations said they have enhanced their efforts to recruit new members, 44 percent said they had not, and only 4 percent didn’t know or were unsure.
When asked what changes their associations have implemented, one CEO said, “Shifting from a benefits focused to a value focused approach to reach more millennials.” They are also investing in “a better understanding of the customer journey and developing products that are need based and not just nice to have.”
Another CEO panelist shared that their group is sending “more targeted messages to qualified prospects (e.g., people who bought something, asked for something, attended [conferences], etc.)”
Of those who had not changed their tactics, one CEO explained it was not necessary. “Our membership has grown to its highest levels in the past few years in our history, so we are hitting the mark.” Another executive shared, “We are conducting a deep dive research project into our members’ needs and wants and will wait for that to decide on strategy changes.”
Additional Strategies Our Panelists Shared:
- Expand membership benefits.
- A more targeted effort to address value and messaging for early career members.
- An outside agency for fresh perspectives and tactics.
- Double down on personal outreach.
- Target institutions rather than individuals.
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Staying up to date with changing member needs, technology, and demographic shifts are among the many ways associations can continue to stay relevant, engage more effectively with their target audience, and sustain a thriving and diverse membership base.
For more ideas about revamping new member recruitment efforts, read Avenue M’s quick summaries of the following resources and click the links below.
Use Your Member-Referral Program to Drive Recruitment and Engagement
Members are a valuable asset for recruiting new members. ISACA’s referral program was highly successful in 2022, with 2,000 members bringing in nearly 2,900 new members.
The program focuses on building a strong community and encouraging current members to actively refer others. ISACA rewards participants with incentives such as free membership and even lifetime membership. They also adapt to changing needs by investing in the future generation of members by including student members.
New Membership Model Sparks Growth
The Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International faced declining membership but turned things around by trying new membership models. ASBO introduced an annual school district membership category in 2020 and doubled their paying members from 4,009 to 8,049. To make it work, they analyzed data, researched the market, and considered nondues revenue.
Personal outreach and clear explanations were key to getting districts on board. By offering access to publications, resources, and education for all district employees, ASBO generated more revenue and increased participation in webinars, education subscriptions, and conferences. The new model empowered teams and received positive feedback from members.
Use Data to Inform Your Member-Recruitment Strategies
Data is essential for effective member-recruitment strategies. Here are some ideas for how associations can use data to develop an overall member-recruitment strategy.
- Focus on retention and nondues revenue if saturation is high.
- Align your value proposition with potential members’ goals.
- Analyze current members and target specific groups for recruitment.
- Optimize new member onboarding campaigns based on email interaction data and regularly refresh campaigns using collected data.
By following these steps, associations can gain valuable insights and improve their recruitment efforts.
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Contributors: Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE & Lisa Boylan
Image: Adobe Stock