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Using Your Members to Promote Your #Association

Scott Oser provided this guest post.  He is the President of Scott Oser Associates Inc, a US-based consultancy working with associations and non-profits to solve marketing, sales & membership and circulation challenges.   

Yes!  You Can Use Your Members To Your Advantage!

I have been giving a lot of thought lately to recruitment, retention and general marketing techniques that are proven to work over long periods of time but may be getting left out of our current tactical marketing plans because they are simply not shiny and new.  My mind drifts to this topic numerous times during the day as I work with clients, read association publications, blogs, social media, etc. and one group that I don’t think gets enough attention is our current membership.

Our members are a valuable resource to us and we need to do a better job of allowing them to help us help ourselves.  Here are a number of ways that members can be used in your marketing:

  1. Borrows their words and stories—I am confident that you are doing a good job of describing the value proposition of the product or service you are promoting.  While that is a great first step there is an additional level of authenticity when a potential member or purchaser hears about how what you do has helped them and it is stated in their own words.

    What I am referring to here is typically called a testimonial but testimonials now come in different formats:
    • Video—film your members//customers briefly stating how what it is you are trying to promote has benefited them in their own jobs/life.  
    • Print—get quotes from members/customers to succinctly state how they have benefited from the product/service you are promoting and use it in direct mail, your print publications, brochures, print ads, etc.
    • Electronic—take the same quotes you got for print, or get others, and use them in email, on your website, in social media, etc.
  2. Let them do the work—There are a number of ways that you can get your members to literally do some of your promotional work for you.  You need to give them the tools to do what you ask of them so it is easy for them to help you but your members can be very effective advocates and even solicitors of membership, products and services.  A few successful ways I have seen members used are as follows:
    • Identify and utilize social media champions.  There are members of your community that are already very active in your space on social media.  Invite them to talk about your organization or your products during their own blogging or other social media activity.  You can also invite members to be guest bloggers or tweeters or picture takers for a pre-determined period of time based on your needs.
    • Develop an ambassador program—All of our events have first time attendees.  First time attendees often don’t know many, if any, people and can feel awkward and uncomfortable.  Identifying members that will be at the event that can serve as ambassadors and talk to first-time attendees or attendees that are standing alone is beneficial to both the ambassador and the persons they talk to.
    • Member-get-a-member campaigns—I will openly admit I am not a huge proponent of member-get-a-member campaigns.  They can be cumbersome and time consuming and I have seen many examples where the ROI simply is not there.  That said, member-get-a-member campaigns can work in the right situations and yours may just be one of those.
    • Forward to a colleague efforts—whether it is in print or at the bottom of an email you want your members/purchasers to let their colleagues know about what you are doing.  If you promote sharing information so that it becomes routine for your members/purchasers you will expand your audience without incurring any human or financial cost.

These are just a few ways you can use your members to help you succeed.  There are a lot more out there and I am hoping you are using at least some of them.  Our members are right in our backyards and are often very willing to help us.  Even though there are lots of new shiny ways we can promote our membership, products and services, we need to make sure we don’t ever forget them.

If you have ways that you are currently utilizing your members to help you promote please share them here.