Membership organizations have two core goals – to attain and retain members. Members are the lifeblood of any membership and without being able to recruit new members and keep them as happy, re-subscribing members, you will soon find yourself in hot water.
Marketing can be used to help gain new members and to reinforce the value proposition to existing members. Many membership organizations put off marketing because they feel it’s expensive and too time-consuming. However, there are many marketing activities that even the most limited association can undertake.
Make more use of your website: Your website and your online presence is your most valuable and cost effective marketing tool. Make sure you’re squeezing every little bit of benefit out of it.
So what are our top 10 membership marketing tips?
1 – Create and understand your ‘buyer persona’: Understanding who your core customers are. These will be split into two categories – those that are not members and need to understand who you are and why they should join, and those that are members and need to understand why they should continue to be active. Figure out who your typical new or existing member is – what they do for a living, what business/personal issues they face, where do they spend their time online, who do they go to for advice, what’s the key driver in their decision to join a membership organization? Understanding your buyer persona will ensure your marketing messages are created to exactly target these people.
2 – Optimize for the search engines to make sure you can be found online
Make clear sales paths so prospective members can easily understand the benefits of membership and the subscribing process
Let members log into a self-service portal so they can manage their own membership profile, make purchases, register for events and buy relevant merchandise
Enable social sharing of documents and pages
Integrate social media feeds.
3 – Create engaging useful, thought leadership content: Create content that prospects and members alike want to read and share. This is a great way of boosting your site in the search engines and social platforms, driving traffic and positioning yourself and an industry thought leader. It encourages people to come back to your website time and time again (and refer it to others in their industry), whether they are a member or not.
4 – Encourage online discussions: Let members and non-members communicate through an integrated self-service portal, a member’s only forum area and/or through social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook. If members can use your website or social accounts as a hub to come and engage in discussions with their peers, you are able to not only keep up to date with the latest industry news, issues and problems but can also market yourself as a hub through which members and non-members alike can network.
5 – Ensure your membership offering keeps up with the times: People want to make use of online communications, so make sure you can communicate via email, social platforms and through your website. Let members log on to manage their own membership. Try and eliminate as much paper from the subscribe and re-subscribing process – then make sure you communicate these innovations to your members and prospects
6 – Make it easy for members to re-join: Make sure you communicate with members before their membership expires – if they don’t know their membership is due for renewal, how will they remember to do it? Encourage renewals by offering early re-joining discounts and offer multiple ways to pay – including online payments, direct debits, and automatic credit card payments
7 – Make sure all your branding initiatives are in line with your core message: Decide what you want to stand for and make sure everything backs this up – reinforcing the message wherever you can be found.
8 – Make sure your membership events run as smoothly as possible: Take advantage of event software to make the planning and running of events easy. Invite members through targeted emails, let them register online, give them access to their own self-service portal where they can manage their booking details, provide online post-event surveys and more.
9 – Build relationships with key industry personnel: Make sure relevant people in your industry know what you’re doing and what your message is. Connect with journalists, key bloggers and industry experts via their websites, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Begin to develop a relationship with these key people and find out what kind of news stories they’re looking for. Then make sure you let them know about relevant news and events and provide them with all the information they need to help you promote these.
10 – Make sure you communicate the value of membership: What do members gain from joining your organization? If they attend events, enhance their qualifications, gain new connections and business – make sure they know about it (it’s easy to forget exactly what you’ve done over the course of a year – you can’t assume members will be making a mental list of all the interactions and benefits they’ve had from their subscription). Make it easy for members to see exactly what they’ve gained through their membership and reinforce the value over and over again.