Membership

Even More Spring Cleaning Ideas for Membership Pros

By / Apr 15, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

It’s once again time to dust off your well-worn association membership practices and make them sparkle anew. Get inspired with these refreshing ideas.

The Membership blog here at Associations Now is now into its third spring, which means it must be time for another installment of “spring cleaning” ideas for association membership. Following the 2013 and 2014 editions (where the ideas ares still fresh and worth revisiting), today’s post now makes this series officially a trilogy. I hope this installment strikes you as more The Dark Knight Rises than The Hangover Part III.

As we all know, spring is a time for renewal, so the ideas gathered below from experts in the association industry can offer you some inspiration for dusting the cobwebs off your existing membership practices and polishing them up.

Don’t let our cultural obsession with superstars skew how you uncover the secrets to success in your association.

Member Engagement

We often have a vision of the ideal member: the superstar volunteer who gives so much of her time and is so passionate about the field. She goes the extra mile, attends all the events, is an ambassador to member prospects, and one day will accept the Lifetime Achievement award. We should value and nurture these members, but we shouldn’t push everyone to be like them.

What about our content curators? What about the introverts? What about the people who always fill in their digital profiles? We tend to take smaller, less noticeable actions like this for granted, as if they are secondary in importance, but that’s precisely what baseball thought about on-base percentage. Don’t let our cultural obsession with superstars skew how you uncover the secrets to success in your association.

—Howard Pollock, in “The Moneyball Effect and What It Means for Associations—It’s a Team Game!” September 18, 2014

Member Surveys

Like a lot of associations, mine is in the habit of surveying our members. We do a fair number of small, ad hoc surveys, but we also put a lot of time and energy into a biennial satisfaction survey. It gives us a wealth of information about what responders think about our strategic direction and our programs and services.

One of the things I insist on is sharing the results of this satisfaction survey with our membership. I do this for a few reasons. 1. They deserve it. … 2. It helps increase future response rates. … 3. It provides cover for ending programs.

—Eric Lanke, CAE, in “The Importance of Sharing Survey Results,” October 13, 2014

Member Recruitment

We think that the join decision is a simple one: Mary, we want to offer you X benefits that will help you in Y ways for Z dollars—yes or no?

In reality, the decision to invest the money and time in our associations, rather than the myriad other ways those resources could be invested, is likely not being made by individuals acting completely alone, uninfluenced by anything other than our shiny marketing materials. You may also need to convince a supervisor that the money your member is requesting for membership will return something that will make him better at his job. You may also need to convince a spouse that the time you’re asking your member to invest will provide enough career benefit to merit his absence from family and community activities.

—Elizabeth Weaver Engel, CAE, in “Recruit the Whole Person,” January 21, 2015

Member Stories

Good stories need a hook. When it comes to member stories a good hook is also a lure for potential members. Prospects read (or watch) an effective member story and it moves them in two ways: They want to get to know this member and/or hear more [and] they assume other members are like this person and want to be part of a group of like people. …

Telling a member’s story is not the same as spotlighting their accomplishments. There must be conflict. There must be a problem that was overcome (ideally with your help). Do not list facts about your member. This creates a one dimensional image of them. You want your audience to care about the member’s story and identify with it. Highlighting a member with an abbreviated resume of accomplishments rarely does that.

—Christina R. Green, in “Why You Need to Tell Your Association Members’ Stories Before Your Own,” November 6, 2014

What’s new in your association’s membership toolkit this year? How are you putting a new shine on your member recruitment, retention, and engagement efforts? Please share your ideas in the comments.

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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