The time to reignite your membership recruitment efforts is now. Don’t wait till the bottom falls out. Associations are no longer in a bubble or immune to market realities. The time is now to transform your associations so companies are coming to you because they either can’t operate without you or it is too risky for them to ignore you. Listen in to this week’s episode for three things you should to to reignite your membership recruitment efforts.
Hello and welcome to JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. President of The Moery Company, JP’s mission is to arm today’s associations with insight and strategy to thrive and a progressively complex and competitive business landscape. 21st century associations must move forward with a little bit of hustle and revenue development at their core.
“How do we reignite membership recruitment in our association?”
I get this question, a lot.
“How do we get things going again?”
“How do we get more energy around our program?”
I’ve got three main themes that I hope will help move you forward into this new era that we’re facing.
Ask yourself, why do you want to reignite your membership recruitment? For what purpose? Is there a real reason to move forward with this campaign?
Don’t just go through the motions. Are you doing it due to obligation and not because you can achieve mission or spread success around the industry? Are you just keeping things moving along?
“What is the reason we’re moving forward with our recruitment efforts?”
Set goals for the program. I’m amazed that, often, associations don’t set standards or goals to move forward. When we asked them, “Hey, what do you want to accomplish with this?” They’re like, “I don’t know.” I don’t think that answer is going to give you the purpose and the energy to move forward. Set the stage of what might be possible if we reignite this association from a membership perspective.
What can we achieve with our mission? What kind of influence could we have? How much more valuable would we be to our industry and how can we make our companies more successful?
- Holistic Approach
Make the effort to make this an organization wide program. Sometimes, I see that we put way too much emphasis on the sales and business development team. I recognize that because we’re in that game. Every single part of the organization has something to bring to the table if you truly want to reignite membership. For example:
Advocacy team – how about a new webinar series to inform and educate the organization’s priorities and what you see happening in this new political and legislative, maybe even regulatory, landscape. You might learn what your members really care about based on registration. This is a fundamental opportunity for us in associations because what we often talk about, as a key part of our value proposition, is government relations, but we rarely connect the government relations team to the membership recruitment process.
Communications team – have a contest for your members to tell a real story about their participation and how it helps their companies thrive. We’ve talked about this in a number of different podcasts. The stories members tell is the most effective way to communicate the value of membership. It has to come from them, their authentic story.
Finance and accounting department. Oh, you don’t think you’re involved in this? Yes, you are! Determine new processes to streamline applications, such as wire transfers to join, and other ways to smooth out the registration and the joining process. I see this all the time. Someone’s fired up, they want to join the association and it takes weeks, if not months, for this association to get out an invoice to get the person to join. This shows that the association really doesn’t care if you join or not. Get them smoothed out and enable them to join quickly.
CEO – call and visit the top prospective organizations. However, I’m going to give you a different way of doing that. Lay out your new program and tell them how you believe their company’s bottom line will benefit and how the association is going to move ahead with them or without them.
Event team – develop an incentive program for your events and be very intentional about it. Rethink how you’re going to use events and programs to get more members to join the association. And, for a moment, forget about your department profit and loss and think about how you’re going to help this organization by bringing in more members through your events and programs. After all, you provide the tangible experience that you can give a member and demonstrate how great it is to be a part of the association.
Membership department – be very transparent in how you should improve. That includes the sales process, the activities you need to be engaged in, honing your business development skills, and better articulating the value proposition. Sometimes, we in the membership game, can be a little defensive, “I need materials that are better. I need a new membership brochure. We need some more collateral materials. Oh, the GR team doesn’t help us that much!” Hey, here’s the thing, you’re going to own this effort. At the end of the day, you will be accountable to reigniting membership. You are the tip of the spear, you own the effort, so pursue it.
- Why now?
Here is why it is important to reignite your membership recruitment, and I will be very candid with you, large companies are reconsidering multiple memberships and they will continue to do this. They believe that if they have multiple memberships, and some of these organizations no longer offer them alignment on issues or business priorities, they are going to eliminate those memberships. I guarantee it. I see it already. It’s happening privately and it’s happening publicly. The membership game now, and in the future, will be won in small and medium sized companies. However, my experience is that these are the programs that are a little soft. We’ve paid so much attention in cow tailing to large accounts that we don’t have a compelling company wide effort to recruit small and medium sized. The plan to do so may also include restructuring membership dues, so you can put together a program that’s worthwhile bringing them in. We have to be better, be more articulate, and be focused on the return on investment in terms of recruiting small and medium sized businesses. That is where the game is going to be won. It’s not going to be the 50 yard pass to the big company. It’s going to be in the trenches, three yards in the cloud, a desk kind of stuff. They are going to be key prospects but you must develop the return on investment for them, and do it in a compelling way.
Now is the time to reignite membership recruitment. You can’t wait when the bottom falls out of this thing, it’s going to happen very fast. We are no longer in a bubble, immune to business realities, because of our legacy and the fact that we’ve been around for 100 years. No one cares about that. The new leadership doesn’t care that the former CEO used to be on the board. It has no effect on their decision making now. The time is now to transform your associations so companies are coming to you because they either can’t operate without you or it is too risky for them to ignore you. I know you can do it. I’ve seen it happen, and I’m willing to help if you ever need it.
Thanks for listening today.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. We’d love to connect with you. Check out our blog at moerycompany.com and subscribe to our weekly newsletter. You can also connect with JP on LinkedIn and Twitter at @JPMoery, as well as The Moery’s Company’s Instagram and Facebook page. To purchase a copy of JP’s book, Association Hustle: Top Strategies for Association Growth, go to JPMoery.com.