Original Author: JP Moery
It’s that time of year to pick up the phone to call or email your members to remind them about renewing their membership. It’s also the time to reach out to potential new members. Quarter four is a great opportunity to revisit your membership renewal strategy, especially if you have encountered some of the following responses:
- “Oh, we’ll look at our membership in the new year.”
- “I’m too busy right now. Can you call me after January 1st?”
- “That’s a different budget cycle. Can we connect after the Holidays?”
It’s a safe bet you’ve probably heard all three, maybe more than once. In fact, you may have used the same language to push off someone contacting you. Contacting people during the holiday season can sometimes feel like an absolute grind. When it feels like everyone is telling you “No” or “Let’s wait,” you need to refocus your tactics. Here’s how:
How to Boost Member Renewals in Q4
First and foremost, don’t treat all members the same by communicating the same routine message. Instead of writing their contact name on a list to call back in January, think of this as another sales opportunity. Yes, December is the end of the year, but January can have equal opportunity. It’s the season for New Year’s Resolutions, brand new starts, and oftentimes an optimistic attitude.
But for those who are interested in speaking with you in December, be ready by doing the following before you contact members about renewal:
- If there’s a process for figuring out membership dues, help them by doing it for them.
- Know what kind of approval process they have.
- Know who needs to review the materials as well and send them before the contact.
An intentional membership renewal program is essential to amplify your efforts as well. Preparing and getting details worked out before your fourth quarter contact will increase the probability that the membership will be recorded in early January. Then that company will experience membership for the whole year.
And don’t forget to re-engage your sponsors. Sponsors want year-long programs that work for them across all the assets that the association has to offer. Q4 is the perfect time to pitch a year’s worth of programs, and it’s also a great time to introduce some new inventory (after eliminating those that haven’t sold for a year or two).
How to Recruit New Members in Q4
The fourth quarter is also a good time to consider new member recruitment strategies for your association. Future members are likely more primed than ever for that feeling of community that comes from joining an association.
However, because the end of the fiscal year is hectic for most businesses, getting in front of people can require some creativity. Here are three suggestions to spark interest and close the deal.
Free Months of Benefits
First, make an offer to companies displaying interest or those already in the sales pipeline to sign up for 15, 14, or 13 months of membership for the cost of 12 months. In other words, give the rest of this year at no charge and then bill them for next year. Receiving free months of benefits may be the lure that finally gets a company to join a trade association. Another option might be to offer an extended-year membership. This means onboarding them in the fourth quarter and having them experience what it’s like to be part of your organization and experience its value before the new year kicks in.
Start Collecting Dues Now
Secondly, collect part of the dues now and bill the remainder in January or February. If a company has “some skin in the game” by paying a portion of its dues early, it will likely finish the transaction in Q1. The budget benefit for the new member (which you can point out to them to help them decide) is it can split the membership cost into two different fiscal years.
This tactic is especially effective for potential members on the fence about joining due to the cost-benefit value of joining.
Third, make sure you’re also recruiting new suppliers. Think about adding a bit of incentive or added benefit for them. They also need to grow their business and would like to reach your industry and market next year. So, on top of the 15- for 12-month membership deal, add a basic level sponsorship, or a small marketing benefit, that they would usually not receive.
For instance, running a banner ad on the association website for a couple of weeks or a logo placement at a virtual event. You can also actively promote your supplier through your social media channels. What this does is demonstrate to your suppliers that you’re there to help them grow their business as well.
Being creative and engaging with current members, potential new members, and suppliers to get their commitment for next year is the primary goal for associations. The fourth quarter can be great for revamping your membership renewal strategy and recruitment efforts as long as you are willing to listen and be flexible about what prospects want.
Now that you better understand the challenges and ways to overcome them, put in the time to plan your strategies beforehand.
Need help with member renewals and recruitment? Reach out. We want to help!