Membership Hack: Preview Weekend

The Association of Writers & Writing Programs occasionally opens its website to nonmembers for a weekend preview of member-only benefits. The free access incentivizes prospects to join.

How to hack it? For the last two years, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs has given member prospects the chance to log on to its website and use membership benefits for free during a three-day preview weekend.

To participate, nonmembers must complete a registration form. Then, AWP sends a series of emails that guide prospects through the website, including sections that are typically password protected for members only. During the weekend, nonmembers get access to a job board, a writers’ calendar listing important dates for grants and awards, and an archive of more than 1,300 articles, among other member benefits.

This year, 902 people registered to take part in the preview weekend, held earlier this month. Shortly thereafter, participants were invited to become members at a discounted dues rate. It’s still too early gauge results, but Membership Director Diane Zinna says it’s a recruiting tool with advantages that other tactics lack.

“With direct mail and social media campaigns, so much of our effort is often put into coming up with exciting language to encourage people to join,” she says. “With preview weekend, it just feels great to give people a clear look at everything.”

Why does it work? The preview weekend gives prospects a chance to test-drive some of the many benefits of AWP membership, says Zinna. “This kind of campaign helps us find members who will stay,” she says. “They have already seen that their membership will be valuable.”

What’s the bonus? AWP members tap into their online networks to help spread the word about the preview weekend. “We saw people telling their friends on social media about this free opportunity to access great resources, and people were excited,” Zinna says. “We know we have so much to offer, and now hundreds more know, too.”

(1001Love/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Tim Ebner

By Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!