When I talk to associations about having us sell their memberships, sponsorships, ads, or exhibits, it is almost always met with some form of...
I Run a Small Business. Here’s How to Recruit Me to Your Association.
During my 25 years in the association biz, I’ve seen organizations discussing the value of recruiting and retaining small businesses. And, the frustration of servicing growth enterprises. I now have a unique perspective as a small business.
Dilemma #1. Most associations can make the case I need to be interested in government relations. It’s true and I’m grateful for my membership in the US Chamber and other advocacy organizations. However, this is not the reason I join or will continue. Advocacy will likely grow in importance as the business evolves and becomes more sophisticated. So, our most prolific dilemma is your key benefit is not what I’m looking for, at this time. So, to get my business – dial down that component of the value proposition.
Dilemma #2 – Please develop a specific group of benefits or programs for the emerging company. For example, some of our association clients have developed “Business in a Box” to help small enterprises get off the ground. Small businesses need business tools to learn how to grow.
Dilemma #3 – We need a sales approach that is conducive to small business. You want to reach me? Email or make a phone call. Send me some content that I like. Give me a link to your website so I can sign up with my credit card. Make the engagement process fast and smooth, because I’m on to the next thing. Quickly.
Dilemma #4 – Small biz member dues. In all the research The Moery Company has done on dues levels, we’ve found the amount you charge doesn’t really influence the association bottom-line. However, association dues will influence my decision. I’m willing to pay less and forego a board seat, access to technical experts, etc. I frankly want to grow my business and flourish and will pay more as the business grows.
My advice is to introduce a low entry-level membership fee. Provide business tools, promotional opportunities, and specific small-business programming like optimizing the value of my business. If you help us grow I won’t forget you have had something to do with that. I will be your very best testimonial.
On the other hand, don’t feel obligated to recruit me without a specific value proposition that makes good sense for my business. It’s OK.
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