Shane recently wrote about how to build membership-based organizations based on a solid content and communications strategy. I’d like to develop this further with some additional tactics that will help build your membership base, as well as successfully demonstrate value to your existing members, increasing membership retention as well as enhance opportunity for marketing’s oldest tactic: word of mouth and referrals.
First, its important to establish what you offer to your members that makes your organization worth the associated costs. Think of what makes your association worth the money, and condense this into one clear sentence: this is your value statement and should inform the rest of your strategy…
Next, as with all marketing strategies, you must identify your member personas. A member persona is an example of the type of person who would fit in well and gain value from your organization. A good way of identifying these personas is talking to your existing members, learning why they are part of your association, and why they renew their membership year after year. It’s also important to speak to newer members, to determine what attracted them to your organization and how it is meeting, or not meeting, their expectations in the time they have been an active participant. This will ensure you are targeting the right people as members, as well as ensuring that you will be able to meet their needs and subsequently renew their membership.
Communication is key – and it’s important that both new and existing member are kept up to date with relevant information about your organization or association, so that they feel like an active and informed participant, or are incentivized to become one. Some information may be provided for free to entice prospective members, whereas other more in-depth content or research can be issued to members only. This will clearly demonstrate the added value associated with being an active member of your organization. You can offer this information up in many ways, from social media to email communications. Another consideration is adding a members-only section to your website which allows your active members to access a “secret” or gated portal, containing valuable resources and information in exchange for their membership.
It’s also important to create active, not passive, memberships to ensure your association is always top of mind when it comes to delivering value. The key here is to consistently create membership engagement. We’ve previously discussed the many touchpoints organizations have with their members – from your website to your email and social media channels – and engagement is critical to keep these both interesting and useful to your membership base. Keep content fresh and updated, ensure that it’s easy to find, and enable a two-way conversation by asking for opinions, input or participation in events, news and research.
All of the above value offerings can be facilitated online, but the final key consideration is the face-to-face offering your organization can provide. People relate to people, and members are much more likely to stay actively engaged when they can put a face to their organization and network with other members who have similar passions and interests. This also provides an incentive for new members to become part of an active community. Consider hosting regular branded events, which can vary from an annual gala to a monthly keynote, depending on your organizations objectives and member base. These events also provide opportunity for member referrals, and can be promoted via your existing communication channels. It’s also worthwhile to consider sponsorship or participating in complementary events hosted by related organizations or corporations in order to increase awareness of your association and promote the benefits and value of becoming a member.
Whatever tactics you choose, the most important thing to remember here is that it’s not just about who can shout the loudest when it comes to marketing in this sector, it’s about who can clearly demonstrate member value.
Author: Sandra Moffatt