Membership

Get Creative With Your Spring Membership Drive

By / Mar 5, 2019 (amenic181/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Spring offers a chance to rethink membership campaigns, adding seasonal tie-ins and creative themes that make it more fun to recruit and engage.

The start of spring comes with many annual rites of passage. Spring break gives many families a chance to go on vacation. Mother Nature is in full bloom. Meanwhile, some people decide to tackle a spring-cleaning list in an effort to declutter. And if you’re a sports fan, March Madness is one of the first signs that spring has arrived.

For many associations, spring is the perfect time to roll out membership drives that play off the season’s themes of rebirth, renewal, or high-stakes competition. The Transportation Marketing and Sales Association is a case in point.

Last year, TMSA held a March Madness membership drive, offering new members in any membership category a chance to save on future event and programming costs. The month-long campaign also incentivized existing members to recruit prospects by offering a promotional discount code that could be applied toward a future purchase.

The timing of the campaign was strategic—and not just because TMSA CEO Brian Everett knew that many of his members were sports fanatics.

“As with many associations, TMSA’s membership activity is very cyclical,” Everett says. “Our primary conference takes place in early June, and as a result, we see a spike in new membership engagement during the months of March and April as companies prepare to engage at the annual conference.” Ultimately, the campaign drew in more than 100 new qualified leads and member inquiries.

He notes that it’s important to keep campaign concepts new and evolving. “We don’t want to make this an annual campaign. We want to keep our creative campaigns fresh,” Everett says. TMSA is considering rerunning the campaign in 2020, after giving it a one-year break.

Part of TMSA’s success came from giving members the promotional tools necessary to recruit. Everett says his team supplied email templates, social media posts, and digital membership brochures that members could share with others or post to professional networks.

Other associations have taken similar approaches in March. For instance, the Cleveland chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners will host a member rally to celebrate Women’s History Month. The event recognizes NAWB members, who run women-owned businesses, and serves as a networking and recruitment rally for new prospects.

Similarly, many universities time “giving days” to the spring season. The fundraising scene is less crowded than at other times, especially November’s #GivingTuesday. And tax season is front and center—a reminder that charitable donations are tax deductible.

The ScaleFunder blog has three examples of tactics that universities take. The “match and challenge” concept and the “affinity giving” campaign could be applied to associations’ membership drives.

After all, you would expect an engineering society named Tau Beta Pi Association to run a membership challenge that coincides with Pi Day, March 14—a nod to the mathematical constant 3.14.

For a membership drive to stand out and grab attention, add a few creative touches, and time the campaign just right. Springtime may be the perfect moment.

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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