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Effective Associations: Beating the Odds to Boost Your Membership Numbers

Beating the Odds to Boost Your Membership Numbers
These aren’t easy times for associations to try to increase their membership numbers. But with a strong message and smart strategy, you can beat the odds and be the organization that everyone in your field wants to join.

We all know the challenges, and they won’t be going away anytime soon. Budgets are tight, so companies and organizations are hesitant to pay for association memberships. Time is scarce, so people are less likely to join when they doubt they’ll have time to participate. And much of the information and networking we used to receive from our associations is now just a few mouse clicks away, at no cost.

Keeping the Connections Open

Here’s what some of the most effective associations do to keep their membership numbers strong and healthy.

  • 30% per year: That’s the astonishing rate at which business databases go out of date. Without accurate contact information, you’re bound to lose touch with your members. But it takes eight to 10 touchpoints to reach a target audience with a message that requires a decision and action. A regular data cleansing program is the only way to keep in touch with any membership association’s most important list of contacts.
  • The permanent campaign: Most associations sign up only a small percentage of the prospective members in their professions, sectors, and supply chains. That’s because it takes time and consistency to reach out to membership prospects, find out what motivates them, and help them arrive at the inevitable conclusion that they really ought to have joined years ago. New member outreach works best when it’s a permanent campaign that stresses listening over selling and shows the powerful benefits of working together.
  • Personal contact: It’s the price of entry if you want a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with the members you’ve already signed up. You should be thinking about renewing and retaining your members from the day they join, and reaching out to them with a contact program that shows you’re listening to what they need and want.

Thriving in Tough Times

It’s a tough landscape out there for associations. But your organization can thrive with the right plan for recruiting and retaining members. You’ll know you’ve succeeded when those members are so actively engaged that they become the cornerstone for your next wave of outreach, and for the idea generation that will carry you into a more certain future.

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