by Tony Rossell
Perhaps the single biggest impediment to launching a membership recruitment effort is the “paralysis of analysis.” Some associations spend so much time and effort researching, debating, and planning that a program is delayed or, in some cases, never implemented.
Getting started with a recruitment effort does not require knowing all of the answers up front and documenting them in a massive marketing plan. Ideally, successful marketing efforts are dynamic and should be continually adapted based on feedback from the marketplace. Instead, a simple, one-page membership recruitment plan may be all that is needed to launch your program.
Creating Your One-Page Recruitment Plan
We recommend using this simple Membership Recruitment Marketing Matrix. It includes each of the critical coordinates for creating an effective plan by connecting each potential membership segment with the proper channels, value proposition, offers, messages, and frequency.
Defining the market segments that you want to reach is the first step in the planning process. Your target market can be visualized as a pyramid. To use the matrix, start by listing your market segments–from most productive to least productive. Along with the name of the market segment, you can also list the estimated quantity of prospects in that group. The top layer includes the very best candidates, and each lower layer displays less-qualified options sequentially. The bottom layer can represent entirely new membership markets that you are trying to reach.
Most associations will find that their very best performing potential prospects include recently lapsed members, followed by non-member customers. So, these prospects will go in the top segments. Outside marketing lists and databases will invariably fall to the lower layers of your target market pyramid.
With a good understanding of the segments in your target market, you can devise the most effective strategies based on where the prospects fall in your pyramid by aligning them with the adjacent matrix.
Recently Lapsed Members Example
Here’s an example of how to use the matrix for one segment–recently lapsed members.
- Marketing channels – Since lapsed members likely will be the most responsive segment and have an established relationship with your association, all marketing channels can be effectively deployed. And because they will probably respond positively, more expensive channels like telemarketing and direct mail are appropriate for this group. So, in the channels column of your plan, you can list a broad array of marketing techniques.
- Value proposition – The good news is that many lapsed members may not have renewed their membership this past year out of financial panic and not because of a lack of value. Former members will likely respond to opportunities to reengage with their peers through networking and career assistance, and may even be willing to attend in-person events.
- Offers – An incentive like a discount or free months of membership can be effective in giving lapsed members a reason to respond right away. Offering a reason to act promptly may be what is needed to show them how much you would appreciate having them back with you.
- Messages – Former members do not need a detailed explanation of the benefits of membership to join. Marketing messages to this segment can be short and to the point: “We want to welcome you back into our community.”
- Frequency – Because lapsed members are the most likely segment to join, they can support the highest level of contact. A reasonable frequency of contact would undoubtedly be ongoing digital ads, a monthly email, a quarterly mailing, and an annual phone call.
Following the example above, complete your plan by filling in each column of the matrix for each segment. When completed, you will have a viable, working recruitment marketing plan and can get started testing and optimizing it over time.