Membership is an organization’s most valuable asset. Without loyal members, your group will cease to exist. That is why it is so important to allocate a significant portion of your budget, time, and focus to retaining existing supporters while also adding new ones. Every expert has tips for success, but these are by far the best ones I've seen organizations make use of in spanning my 20 years of experience.
1. Define your value proposition
Your organization’s value proposition can be defined as the answer to the question: Why should I choose this organization over another? It’s your key differential, your competitive advantage, and what members should refer to when they explain why they chose to join. Being able to identify and drive value will help you build the foundation for your marketing strategies and materials – it should be front and center on your website. In order to sell it, you need to make sure all of your staff, volunteers, and members know and understand what it is – if they can’t, then what you consider to be your organization’s most unique quality might not actually be all that unique.
2. Market where your members are
The key to gaining and retaining members is to stay constantly visible, including digitally. Be present on the social media channels and online groups they’re in. Advertise in industry-specific publications and participate in industry-related events. Send email newsletters and updates. As a leader of your organization, you should be viewed as a credible source in the space. If you’re not constantly marketing your group on and offline, how will your members know who you are?
3. Leverage a member referral program
No marketing strategy can beat personal recommendations and word of mouth. Great referral programs leverage members who are advocates of your organization. Your advocates should be willing to promote all the benefits they’ve gained by being a loyal member. If you haven’t pursued this before, make sure the process is simple and easy for your members to recruit on your behalf by providing relevant materials and incentives for doing so. Incentives can come in the form of free entry to an event or a discount on their membership.
And if you are already utilizing this strategy, track its success and seek ways to continue to improve it. Always keep in mind that your constituents are your greatest assets. Make sure they are well equipped with training to answer questions and positively represent your organization.
4. Keep your existing members happy
Retaining your current members is even more important than obtaining new ones. Nothing defines a successful organization more than loyal supporters. The fewer you lose, the easier it will be to reach your growth goals and the less resources you’ll have to spend to do it. The key to maintaining your current membership base is to always drive value. Secondary to that is making it convenient to remain as a member of your organization. It’s critical to continually communicate your value to members, whether it’s through marketing automation, event notifications, email campaigns, or social media posts. Listen to your members as well – get feedback and their thoughts on how well you’re providing value. Take that information to further improve your value proposition and stay relevant in our ever-changing technological and social landscapes.
These four tips can help an organization not just stay current in appealing to younger demographics, they also ensure that it continues to excel and deliver membership that is valuable and accessible. To learn more about how memberplanet can bolster membership for your organization or association, check out our dynamic solutions.
Updated since original publication on 6/24/19.
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