More Spring Cleaning Ideas for Membership Pros

Is it finally spring yet? It's time once more to declutter your membership practices, and these five ideas are a great place to start.

The winter of 2014 was a long, cold slog for many of us, but the end is in sight. The first day of spring (at least here in the northern hemisphere) was two weeks ago tomorrow, which means we can all emerge from hibernation and take in some fresh air. The real new year has begun.

For association membership pros, now is a great time to refresh your recruitment, retention, and engagement practices. Last year I shared four spring cleaning ideas for membership pros from some experts in the industry, and over the past year the community has continued to share great tips and advice. So, here are five more ideas to reinvigorate your membership methods:

Set up an email campaign that goes out once a year, or even once a quarter, to people who haven’t updated their profile recently.

Member Job-Title Data

Roles are the position, as defined by your association, that the individual is serving in. So if you want to track the chief staff position of your members, you create a pick-list field called “role” and you categorize titles into different roles. For example, you might have a role called “Primary Marketing Executive” and in that role would be titles like Director of Marketing, Chief Marketing Officer, Vice President of Marketing, and so on. When a new individual is added with the title of Director of Marketing, you also give them the role of Primary Marketing Executive. Now when you want to pull a list of all the primary marketing executives, you simply query on that role.

—Wes Trochlil, in “Titles Vs. Roles,” August 6, 2013

Value Propositions

If your association wants more members and stakeholders and wants more members and other stakeholders to be engaged, start by identifying and understanding the common worldview among them and how your association fits into it. Your entire association staff and leadership should be able to do this, in 25 words or less, and at the drop of a hat. … If your leadership and staff can’t immediately articulate a single, overarching reason why all of your members and stakeholders do engage with your association, you’ll never be able to tell prospective stakeholders why they should engage. And, that makes it extremely unlikely that your organization will ever develop a truly compelling—and sustainable—value proposition.

—Andrea Pellegrino, in “Association Value-in 25 words or less,” August 25, 2013

Online Community Participation

Since maintaining their profiles is probably not something your customers or members regularly think about, don’t be afraid to occasionally remind them. Set up an email campaign that goes out once a year, or even once a quarter, to people who haven’t updated their profile recently. Tip: Rather than nagging your target audience, turn your reminder into helpful and relevant content to make it as easy as possible—such as, “Six Tips for Refreshing Your Profile” Or “Why Updating Your Online Community Profile Will Boost Your Career This Year.”

—Joshua Paul, in “How to Get Customers or Members to Complete Profiles in Your Private Online Community,” January 7, 2014

Market Share

If your association has low market penetration—or even worse, if you don’t know how to define your market—it’s time to invest in the in-house time or external resources to solve the problem. Not because we say so, but because your organization’s health and survival depend on it. Here are some of the questions to ask: What are the top four, five, or half-dozen audience segments that make up your membership? Are you missing other audiences that should be a part of your membership base? What is the total size of each audience within your geographic territory? What is your current market share for each group?

—Meagan Rockett in “How Market Penetration Shapes Associations’ Success,” August 2013

Attracting Young Professionals

Get on campus. Take a clue from LinkedIn. They launched their University Pages so they could become part of students’ lives while they were still in school. Invite college students and graduates to register for your online community or attend your events at a deep discount. Once you have their contact info, you can tell them more about association resources, education and programs that can help them. The Ohio State Bar Association organizes on-campus panel discussions, meetings and social events for law students so they’re familiar with the association and its value. … The National Association of Home Builders works with teachers and professors at high schools, technical schools, community colleges and universities to establish local chapters for students enrolled in construction-related fields.

—Deirdre Reid, in “Associations: A Student’s Best Friend Forever,” on November 6, 2013

What’s the newest tool or practice you’re using in your membership efforts? How are you making small or big adjustments to improve efficiency and effectiveness in your recruitment, retention, or engagement? If you have some additional advice to help your fellow membership pros spruce up for spring, please share in the comments.


Joe Rominiecki

By Joe Rominiecki

Joe Rominiecki, manager of communications at the Entomological Society of America, is a former senior editor at Associations Now. MORE

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