Membership

Top Tips From 2018 Membership Hacks

By / Dec 18, 2018 (olegkalina/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

In the weekly Membership Hack column, we share the little ways that associations save time, money, and resources while delivering value to members all year long. Here are some of our favorites from 2018.

If there’s one thing true in life, it’s that time flies. Right now, I bet most association professionals feel particularly pressed for time as we enter the final stretch of the holiday rush and set new goals and resolutions for 2019.

But before we bid adieu to 2018, it’s worth circling back to a few of this year’s many smart Membership Hacks. As you may know, the weekly Membership Hack column highlights great ideas from associations for maximizing time, money, and other resources while delivering outstanding value to members.

Especially at this time of year, when the holiday rush can lead to added stress (don’t worry, there’s a Membership Hack for that too), association professionals could probably use some Membership Hack inspiration—ideas easy enough to implement and creative enough to deliver bonuses to your members.

Here’s a recap of a few of my favorites. You can peruse the full collection at your leisure by scrolling through the archives.

Savvier member recruitment. This year, a few associations took clever approaches to traditional member recruitment campaigns. I love how the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association tapped into members’ competitive juices, challenging them to recruit during a month-long March Madness membership drive, and how the National Business Aviation Association mimicked retailers’ holiday-shopping kickoff with this Black Friday deal.

But you don’t need a major retail event or sports month to recruit prospects. Just look at how the Association of Writers & Writing Programs opens up access to members-only portions of its website for “preview weekends.” That’s become an easy way for nonmembers to test-drive the many benefits AWP offers.

Gamified member engagement. Member engagement can often feel like a chore, but gamifying the experience can make it much more fun. In the lead-up to its annual meeting, the Association of Change Management Professionals hosts a chapter trivia challenge that quizzes members on their knowledge of local chapters while reminding them to sign up and attend the conference.

Meanwhile, member mentoring can be another challenging engagement task. The Mid-Atlantic chapter of the American Inns of Court takes a speed-dating approach to mentorship matchmaking to ensure that mentoring pairs are well suited to each other.

Easy-to-use online tools. Today, so much of the member experience is based online, either through an association’s website or an app or social media interface. Keeping the user experience in mind can help you to make small tweaks to improve your online presence. Take, for instance, NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association, which collects and celebrates good news from members using an online form, or the American Chemical Society, which sends new members a digital membership handbook to get them up to speed. Or if your industry is awash in technical acronyms, consider creating an online acronym finder, like the one the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society rolled out earlier this year.

Personalization made simple. Finally, remember, when it comes to member personalization, you don’t always need the latest and greatest marketing automation software or AI-powered tool to resonate in one-off ways. Keeping your content strategy simple can boost personalization, whether that means downsizing membership newsletters, removing “I” or “we” statements from member materials, or creating a physical wall at meetings where members can share something about themselves with each other.

So cheers to the smart association professionals who came up with this year’s Membership Hacks. As they’ll surely tell you, it’s often the simplest ideas or tiniest tweaks that make the biggest difference to your members and keep them coming back year after year.

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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