Where do you start if your executive director or board tells you that they want to increase the number of brand new members coming into your association?
Usually it is best to look at a broad array of options first and then narrow down to what fits your situation the best. Here are seven strategic opportunities to explore in order to increase your new member recruitment efforts.
1. Enhance the Value of Membership — Finding a need and meeting it is the foundation of marketing. If you can provide an indispensible new product or service as part of your membership offering, you will increase the response to your current promotions.
2. Deploy Market Penetration Pricing – Price is one of the four P’s of marketing, so it is a legitimate and useful tool to explore. To grow the number of new members at a rapid rate, a sharp decrease in the price can be effective.
3. Increase Volume (Quantity) of Recruitment Efforts – From my observation, many membership organizations under budget and do not reach deep enough into their markets for potential members. If you have strong returns from your recruitment efforts, you probably are not reaching out aggressively enough and are not at your full market potential.
4. Add New Marketing Channels – Many organizations get locked into one or two marketing channels like email or sales calls and forget about other options like direct mail, telemarketing, and online. When integrated into one campaign a combination of channels can be particularly effective.
5. Test New Lists, Offers, and Creative – Without regular testing of new lists, special offers, and new messages and graphics, a membership recruitment program is sub-optimized.
6. Expand to Related or Ancillary Markets – Thinking creatively about what other market segments might be appropriate for your membership offer can help to jump start recruitment. This is known as a market expansion strategy.
7. Increase the Frequency of Touches to Top Prospects – For almost every organization, there is a core of prospective members who respond at a very high rate. Aggressive membership marketers reach out to these prospects much more frequently over the course of a year and see strong returns.
Each of these strategies has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, lowing prices or reaching new markets can potentially negatively impact renewal rates. However, if the overall membership is growing at a faster pace, then these changes may make good sense.
If increasing new member recruitment is your goal, I encourage you to step back and look at these options. One of them or some combination of them is likely to be the solution that helps advance your membership.