The Engagement and Retention of Your Members is Essential for Success

Istock/Credit:Rawpixel

Here’s a news flash – 70% of associations have indicated it is more expensive to recruit new members than it is to retain their current ones – a fact gleaned from a recent marketing report conducted by Econsultancy. Furthermore, with nearly 50% of organizations achieving more ROI through long-term relationships, retaining members is essential for success.

Here’s the thing though.  In my experience every association says, “Oh, we’re good at retention – it’s 84%.”  You might be getting the membership check annually, but the association may miss the participation and the incremental non-dues revenue opportunity due to lack of engagement.

Here are a few thoughts for you.

Place Your Finger on the Pulse of Current Member Interest

The reason why a member joined 10 years ago may be entirely different from its key interest today.  Develop a system to contact the member and request an update on the key issues for this year.  Phone calls, snap surveys or a three-line email (or a combination of the three) could do the trick.

In our experiences, small businesses want tools and resources to grow. Medium-sized companies need cost-effective ways to stay updated on standards, regulations, and technical issues – they simply aren’t large enough to track this on their own. And, a large company wants a way to influence policies, a seat at the organization’s decision-making table, and to be heard during the regulatory process.

Communicate a Clear Benefit

Once you have a better understanding of member needs – it’s time to act – and, effectively communicating value is KEY. Again, it’s about engagement. With the tools available to us there is no reason to blast every piece of information to each member.  That’s sloppy and lazy. Instead, focus on the top desired need of an audience or demographic and the benefit your association provides to solve it.

With this in mind, make at least a dozen contacts on a weekly basis reinforcing a specific membership value. C’mon this will take one hour weekly.  The effort to make a personal connection translates pro-membership affinity, with thoughts like: “The association staff actually contacted me directly, learned about my business, and ASKED ME!”

Mind the Competition

Here’s a secret….everyone has the same members.  The overlap in the trade association space is immense.  How do you stack up?

We spend a great deal of time conducting helping clients by reviewing competitor’s dues structure, membership benefits, advocacy muscle, educational opportunities and communication offerings – how do you compare? You may not be losing members to the competition – yet, but I guarantee you big companies are evaluating the association play every year. If you find yourself in this situation, contact me and I’ll help evaluate your strong plays and where the association may be vulnerable.

Remember – no organization will make 100% of their members happy – 100% of the time, especially if it really stands for something.  This is why it is so critical to monitor your members’ perceptions by a designed feedback process, because someone else probably is.