How to Leverage Virtual Events for Membership Growth



New member recruitment is just as important as member retention. Here’s how to leverage what you have available to you – in this current environment – to recruit new members.

One thing that we’re learning more about is the value of membership recruitment, membership engagement, and membership renewal. Event and non-dues revenue streams may be a bit uncertain right now and it may continue to be so for a long time. This should not paralyze us. We have members and industry that rely on us to deliver on our value propositions.

Let’s look at how you can leverage virtual events for membership from a before the event, during the event, and after the event perspectives.

Before the Event
Registration should be a home run. We’re seeing from data that we have collected that you can reach more people – and possibly a higher attendance – with a virtual event than one held in-person. It’s obvious why: there are less barriers. There’s a reduction in needed approval to register because registration fees tend to be lower – or free, even – and there’s no need for travel and booking a hotel. There’s an overall reduction of expenses that an attendee has to expense. Therefore, I would eliminate any non-member registration discrepancy. Get them to register and attend and then deliver unbelievable value to them by putting on a heck of a show: on demand content, live entertainment, concurrent sessions, and more. Showcase your vendors and suppliers in a compelling way not only for your members but to your non-members. Demonstrate how valuable your association is to them and how much great information they will walk away with from this event.

During the Event
Think about the structure of your sessions and design some purposely with the intent on showcasing the value of the association to your non-member attendees. When we go to in-person events, there’s usually some kind of a new member or a non-member briefing. I’ve been a couple of those and you couldn’t get me out of there quick enough! However, in this case, you can really showcase the benefits of membership without it being in their face. Set up sessions for the non-member and promote them prior to the event. Here are some ideas for topics to cover:
How can I better monitor state regulations?
How can I gain more customers in the *insert your* industry?
How do I connect with other companies virtually?
What’s the latest data in our industry and consumer trends?
How can I save money for my company right now?
These topics cover the benefits – or the end results – of becoming a member of your association. If you can put those in concurrent sessions and promote them actively before the event to your non-members you’re going to really enhance the association’s portfolio. By the way, because of the data collected by the virtual event platforms, we know who’s attending those sessions and those are the people we’re going to sell membership to after the event.

After the Event
How are you going to follow up with the non-members who attended your event? We’ve found, over the last decade here at The Moery Company, that we’re able to leverage more non-member attendees at events as a reason to join – or as part of our sales process – than probably any other factor. So, let’s do it here!
Right now, executives are more accessible than ever before because of the current work environment. Scheduling is much easier than it was before, you can get on a Zoom call and actually talk to people without jumping through too many hoops. You don’t have to worry about driving into DC, parking when you get there, or finding the right suite or office.
Every single non-member in attendance should be called personally – not emailed – to learn about their experience during your virtual event. In many cases, it might be the first time they’ve ever participated; use that as a wedge to start a discussion, “Hey, if you like this, maybe your company is going to enjoy all the membership services that we have to offer. Let’s have a conversation!”

We have a chance right now to adapt and be a nimble and maximize opportunities that do exist. There are so many new things that we can do with membership! We can reach a different set of people than we did before this year and the virtual world is exposing those opportunities.
Yes, there are downsides, however, the upside is the ability to engage a different audience and that different audience may be with you for the first time. Take advantage of that chance to convert them into a new member.

Do you need help with membership growth? We can help! Reach out to Mike Thomas directly, and we’ll be in contact shortly!


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