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Beyond Membership Marketing - Why Modernizing Your Recruitment Strategies is a Must

If your organization is in the midst of planning for your upcoming renewal year, you might want to read Trish Hudson’s (Melos Institute) recent article: Beyond Membership Marketing: Why Modernizing Your Recruitment Strategies is a Must. 

Trish suggests that when “membership marketing focuses on selling… compelling eligible individuals to ‘buy a membership.’ It becomes a transaction. It treats members as customers. And in return, members behave as such. They view us as another “company” seeking their attention and money.” 

In the article,Trish demonstrates – through a real-life case example – the key differentiating factors that cause a member to have either a “lack-luster” or an exciting, meaningful and fulfilling membership experience.  

It takes a shift in attitude and focus 

To go beyond traditional membership marketing and modernize our recruitment strategies, Trish advises us to shift our attitude and focus.   

We need to shift our attitude:

For the “attitude shift”, Trish suggests we “replace Membership Marketing with a Membership Development Mindset.” She tells us: 

We’ve been trained to be membership marketers; using traditional marketing strategies to recruit members. We’ve spent hours designing the perfect recruitment package. We’ve tested pitches and prices. We’ve segmented markets to find those most willing to join. … So why haven’t we gotten more than satisfactory results? It’s because we’ve been “selling” membership as though it was a product; we’ve abandoned the strategy used by the founders – “inviting” members to become part of a distinctive community where sharing information and knowledge is the norm.  

We also need to shift our focus

To shift our focus, Trish proposes we “modernize [our] organization’s membership strategies." She suggests: 

Membership marketing strategies are predicated upon the tenets of a transactional business-based model. Instead, develop strategies that are focused on a community-oriented relation-centered model. …[These can help] accomplish three things:

  1. inform members what it means to be citizens of their community;
  2. teach them how to navigate the association to get their specific and specialized needs addressed; and
  3. leverage the membership community as a member benefit.

Trish Hudson also reminds us that “words matter.” So she advises us to: “[a]bandon traditional marketing lingo organization-wide that imposes information about your organization on members. Instead, differentiate yourself from competitors by embracing language that describes your organization from the members’ perspective; illustrate how their involvement can make all the difference in their lives and make a compelling case for participation.”  The complimentary module that Trish provides (in the article) offers an example of just that conversation.  

Proof that this attitude and focus shift makes a difference  

At the start of the article, Trish offers a real-life example to demonstrate that when an association "admits and accepts" each member as a valued colleague and ensures members understand how to make their membership meaningful, they enable members to “find their professional home.” Trish emphasizes that “this isn’t a metaphor…it is real.” 

Trish Hudson reminds membership leaders (volunteers and staff) that:

“Members lack the understanding of how to [make the most of their membership] . You alone have the power to modernize your association…beginning with the invitation to new members. And in doing so, you enrich their lives….and yours as well.” 

Not only does Trish Hudson offer a “teachable moment” and lots of great ideas, the article also includes a link to a Melos Institute template for a Member Orientation Module that is specially designed to introduce this new conversation with members.  

You can read the entire Melos Institute article by visiting our Membership Knowledge Hub here:   

Beyond Membership Marketing: Why Modernizing Your Recruitment Strategies is a Must.


Image source:  Paradigm Shift courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]
Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]
Published Thursday, 27 December 2012 at 8:30 AM
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