Tuesday Buzz: Boost Membership With the Basics

One association chapter found an unlikely path to improving its membership numbers: It ensured that its basic functions were on-point. Also: Are 20 percent of your members doing 80 percent of the work? An association pro suggests boosting engagement could even things out.

Over the years, Associations Now has covered dozens of ways to boost membership and engagement—some covered by our own Joe Rominiecki not too long ago.

None, however, have seemed quite so dead-simple as the one recently highlighted by CQ Roll Call’s Connectivity blog: Make it easy for members to reach you.

Surprising as that is, that was one of the elements behind the improved performance of the Colorado chapter of the National Speakers Association, which saw its membership jump by 30 percent in a twelve-month period.

Leslie Shivers, the chapter’s manager, said that the organization’s website had a big problem previously—reaching the organization itself was difficult.

“Membership was declining because the only way to contact the association was to complete a contact form on the website, which went to a virtual assistant, but did not result in timely responses,” Shivers stated.

She solved this problem by putting her personal contact information—name, phone number, and email address—right on the front page. And that simple change helped set the stage for a bunch of larger strategic changes that have put the organization on a path for long-term growth.

“We just went back to the basics,” Shivers explained.

The 80-20 Rule

The Pareto principle—the idea that 80 percent of effects come from 20 percent of the causes—is something that many in the association world are already pretty familiar with, even if they don’t know it yet.

The reason? Quite often, they see it in their membership. A handful of super-engaged members will do much of the lifting—volunteering, taking part in sessions, sharing online feedback—for the benefit of the remainder of the membership, who is often just there for the ride. As you can imagine, this can feel a little frustrating for those who are taking on the bulk of the load.

In a blog post on Partners Preceptors, longtime association executive John Ricco, CAE argues that improving the balance between active and inactive members comes down to engagement.

“Why focus on engagement? It works,” he writes. “Research shows that increased communication and interaction among peers creates better outcomes.”

Other Links of Note

Tech consultancy Delcor has some thoughts on how association execs can grapple with all that crazy technology out there. Click on this link and see if their lessons provide any fresh sparks.

Rely on Google search ads to drive new member interest? The company is making a big change to how paid ads are displayed in search results. CMS Wire has the scoop.

Writing an invitation on LinkedIn is something of an art form—which is why this MemberClicks post is a good starting point for learning how to do it right.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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