We often find ourselves being asked if recruitment or retention is more important for a trade association, but we think they’re equally important.
If you don’t recruit you can be left with a stagnant membership and if you don’t retain members you will have a ‘leaky bucket’ situation where there is a steady flow of new members joining but existing ones continuously leaving. Clearly, if you can manage both you’ll be onto a real winner.
One of the best ways to attract new members is through a recruitment campaign. When you’re preparing a campaign, it’s important to consider who you’re targeting, how many members you’re aiming to recruit and what incentive you’re offering to encourage joining up. Of course, you also need to set a budget and monitor results against this.
When contacting your target audience think about how you would like to be approached. Would you prefer to receive a bland email which has been sent to the email inboxes of thousands of companies or a personalised letter telling you exactly why you should be a member? You might find other recruitment opportunities, such as meeting prospective members at exhibitions or trade shows, are more successful.
Don’t forget the message is as important as the communication channel you use. Put yourself in the prospective member’s position – What’s in it for them to join? What value will they get?
Be realistic when setting targets about how many members you want to recruit and try to think outside the box when it comes to incentives. And don’t give away membership for nothing. For one thing how would that look to your existing full-paying members?
Once you’ve cracked bringing new members on board, you’ll need to think about how to keep them. Offering new benefits, reminding them of the benefits they have, fresh advertising opportunities and interesting training programmes are just some ways you could go about it. Communicating what’s in it for them, in effect your membership value proposition is really important to ensure retention.
Finally, make sure you have a good system to record your important membership metrics be that joiners, leavers, churn, engagement, lifetime value or whatever measure you use to assess the health of your membership.