Membership Hack: Referral Incentives

The Association of Academic Physiatrists incentivizes members who recruit members in August. For each new or reinstated member who joins, the referring member gets entered into a raffle.

How to hack it? Summer doesn’t have to mean a slowdown for membership recruitment. This month, the Association of Academic Physiatrists launched a member acquisition campaign to incentivize member referrals—something that often influences the decision to join.

“Referrals put a friendly and familiar face to our membership,” says Jackie Dilworth, communications and marketing manager at AAP. “When our members tell others about how AAP has benefited their career, it creates an emotional connection.”

Existing members also have two good reasons to make referrals. For every new or reinstated member who joins, the referring member gets a chance to win either a $500 Visa gift card or free registration plus a one-night stay in Puerto Rico for AAP’s 2019 Annual Meeting. Also, the top three recruiters will be recognized on the association’s website and in its weekly e-newsletter.

Why does it work? Word-of-mouth referrals make a stronger impression than a cold call or email, Dilworth says. So far, the month-long recruitment campaign has brought in a dozen new members and more are expected.

Dilworth says the campaign is a strategic touchpoint. “It’s a good time for us to experiment,” she says. “It’s the end of our fiscal year and registration for our big conference opens in September, which drives a lot of renewals and new memberships.”

What’s the bonus? To help members participating in the campaign, AAP got creative, designing social graphics and drafting email templates that they can send to their personal networks. This content also serves to build year-round awareness. “There are a lot of misconceptions about what is an academic physiatrist,” Dilworth says. “These materials build awareness about the definition of an academician, so that prospects can see how they fit into the puzzle.”

(Materio/E+/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

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