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The Unspoken Problem All Association's Struggle With
“What is the biggest challenge that your association is facing right now to grow your membership?"
This is a question we ask every association we work with.
We are always curious to hear their answers, but also pretty confident we know what they will say.
Everyone is in consensus about one thing: association membership renewal struggles!
Associations consistently struggle with renewals, and chances are your association does, too. Don’t beat yourself up — you aren’t alone!
How Can We Increase Renewals?
Simply put - by engaging your members. When your members are engaged, they will renew their membership because they are getting value from the benefits they use and the connections they make. They see the return on their investment.
Increased member engagement will lead to member retention, and in turn, a more prosperous association where your members see the value they are getting by being a part of it. They will fully understand how much they are gaining, and won’t want to miss out.
Easier Said Than Done: Why Aren’t Members Engaged?
There are many potential reasons your members are not fully engaged, some are not in your control and some are.
The average association member doesn't use 90 percent of the benefits that you have to offer. This can seem concerning, but don't doubt the value of your member benefits just yet. Under utilized member benefits doesn’t mean that your benefits don’t have value. It is likely due to ineffective marketing.
Let us share 3 tips to improve your benefits marketing, and in turn, improve your member engagement and member retention!
Tip #1: Create a Member Engagement Strategy in Your Association
The first idea I want to leave you with is this: effective marketing is more about strategy than activity.
What do I mean by this? More time should be spent strategizing and planning your marketing than actually doing it.
Here is an example of how an association I am a member of put this into play: The Association for CEOs in technology pairs up new members as accountability partners. I was matched with another CEO of a technology company that I could relate to. We connected on Slack and set up a weekly check-in call. We shared our goals and helped keep the other accountable to reach them.
Through some strategic planning and managing this program, they were able to offer immense value with very little heavy lifting on their part. Your association can do the same.
Tip #2: Revisit How You Group Your Members
Another suggestion we offer clients is that the "average member" is a myth.
That’s right, there is no such thing as an average member. If you are targeting your “average member,” that might very well be exactly where you are losing them.
You probably segment your members or audience by demographics; grouping them by age, status, or location. Although this might be the typical way bucket members, you may want to try a new approach to get better results. Just because people are roughly the same age, or live in a similar part of town, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are looking for the same things from their associations. There may be better ways to group your members to better market to them.
Tip #3: Focus on the Most Important Membership Benefits
There is a joke that goes like this:
"How do you eat an elephant?"
"One bite at a time."
Elephants are huge, and the your potential marketing to-do item is just as big. Your association likely has a lot of great benefits and resources to market. Our suggestion: don't fall into the trap of marketing all of them all at once. It will be information overload for your audience. How much do you retain when you’re overloaded with information? A confused buyer doesn't buy.
Instead, start with one or two key benefits that you want to communicate to your members. Start with your benefits that you know are valuable but are under utilized. Create a complete campaign around those specific benefits and figure out exactly how you will communicate them to your members.
Remember: Be specific. Put yourself in their shoes and let them know exactly how they can take advantage of those benefits, and why the resources benefit members.