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How to Boost Trade Association Membership: A Complete Guide 

Andrea Amorosi October 23, 2023
Table of Contents
8 min read

Are you involved in leading or running your trade association membership? Then you know how important growing and engaging with members is. Every member brings a unique perspective, enriching the collective knowledge and strength of the association. Your association likely pours resources and effort into opportunities designed just for your members. But to see real growth and impact, you need engagement with both your current members and those considering joining. 

If you’re ready to elevate your membership management and engagement strategies even further, consider the game-changing benefits of MemberClicks AMS. Harness the power of a platform designed with associations like yours in mind. And if you’re looking to boost your association’s membership, this guide is tailor-made for you.

Trade Association Membership: FAQs

You might be wondering: What makes trade associations stand out? The benefits of membership often extend beyond the tangible, reaching areas of advocacy, industry recognition, and a sense of camaraderie. Let’s dive into the essentials and explore what truly makes these associations a cornerstone for businesses looking to grow and thrive. 

What are Trade Associations?

What are Trade Associations?

Think of trade associations as the support network for businesses in the same industry. These hubs are more than just groups; they are platforms for innovation and growth. These organizations foster collaboration, share industry-focused research, and create spaces where members like you can network and learn. It’s where challenges are shared, and solutions are forged collaboratively. The ultimate goal? To amplify the collective voice and ensure every member feels supported, validated, and heard in their aspirations.

Examples of Trade Associations 

Trade associations vary in their focus, but the core mission remains the same: to provide an environment where like-minded businesses can thrive together. To give you a clearer picture, here are some groups and their core missions: 

  • American Grassfed Association: Are you into farming with grass-fed methods? This association has your back. 
  • Florida Senior Living Association: If improving senior care in Florida is your goal, you’re in good company here. 
  • Dakota Credit Union Association: Looking to strengthen credit unions in the Dakotas? This would be your hub. 

With this foundation, let’s look into the strategic side of things: Why do businesses decide to join, and how can you make your membership more enticing? Plus, understanding how to structure your membership fees is crucial if you want to attract and retain a larger member base. 

Why Do Companies Join Trade Associations?

Trade Associations Networking

When you’re running a business, making decisions that benefit your growth and sustainability is a high priority. Each choice carries weight, impacting not just your immediate operations but the long-term course of your business. Joining a trade association can be one of those decisions. A step that extends your reach, enhances your resources, and opens doors to collaborative opportunities. But why? Let’s explore the key reasons businesses like yours choose to become members of trade associations:

Networking Opportunities

Imagine having direct access to a pool of industry peers, potential partners, and even competitors. It’s a world where collaborative synergy takes the center stage. Joining a trade association offers you a platform to connect, collaborate, and even commiserate with others in your field. The insights gained and relationships built here can shape your business’s future. These connections can be incredibly valuable for growth, collaboration, and staying ahead of industry trends. 

Staying Updated

The business landscape is ever-evolving, and in this dynamic environment, staying informed is not just an advantage – it’s a necessity. With membership in a trade association, you’re always in the loop. You become part of a vibrant ecosystem where information flows freely, insights are exchanged, and knowledge is collective. Be it new regulations, industry benchmarks, or emerging best practices, you’re the first to know.

Exclusive Research Access 

Many trade associations conduct specialized research that’s available only to their members. It’s like having a gold mine of insights, where every piece of information can steer your business towards informed decisions and innovative solutions. This can offer you insights, data, and trends specific to your industry that aren’t accessible elsewhere.

Influence and Advocacy

Ever felt that certain legislation or regulations could be more business-friendly? You’re not alone, and in the world of trade associations, your voice is amplified. As a member of a trade association, you get a collective voice. Together, we are stronger; we are heard, and we influence. Your concerns, combined with others, can influence policy decisions at higher levels, creating a path that’s not just informed but is also equitable and progressive.

Understanding Trade Association Membership Fees

Understanding Trade Association Membership Fees

Growing your association isn’t just about drawing in members; it’s also about ensuring that the value they receive aligns with the membership fee. By breaking down the costs transparently and showcasing the benefits, you can foster trust and demonstrate value. Here’s how you can effectively determine your membership fees: 

Examine Your Costs 

At the heart of every association are the operational costs. These might encompass event hosting, research initiatives, administrative expenses, and more. Understanding both your fixed and variable costs is crucial in setting a fair membership fee that ensures the association’s sustainability while providing value to members. If you’re using trade association membership software, for instance, factor in those costs as they directly contribute to the member experience. 

Evaluate Your Value  

What makes your association stand out? Consider all the exclusive resources, networking opportunities, training sessions, and other benefits that members gain access to. Delve into the specifics: Are there industry webinars exclusive to members? Insightful articles that tap into the latest trends? Remember, it’s these unique offerings that set you apart. By putting a tangible or perceived value on these offerings, you can better justify the membership fee. It’s not just an expenditure but a valuable asset. It’s an investment in their business growth, offering them tools and opportunities they wouldn’t find elsewhere. 

Determine Your Fee Structure 

Membership fees can act as both an entrance ticket and a reflection of the value you offer. They can vary, just like the needs of businesses. Some associations might charge a one-time joining fee, a simple gateway into the community. On the other hand, others might operate on a more consistent, recurring basis with monthly or yearly subscription charges. This helps maintain the resources and services you offer, ensuring a steady stream of support for members throughout their tenure. Whichever route you choose, transparency is key. Always ensure that you communicate clearly to potential members, giving them a clear view of what they’re committing to, both in terms of cost and the benefits they stand to receive. 

Consider the Membership Pricing of Similar Associations

It’s a big world out there, and in every industry, there’s more than one player on the field. Being aware of the competitive landscape isn’t just smart – it’s essential. Take the time to research and understand what other associations in your domain are charging. This offers two clear benefits. Firstly, it can provide insights into industry standards, ensuring you’re neither undervaluing nor overpricing your membership. And secondly, while pricing is important, it’s the value proposition that truly matters. Knowing what others offer helps you refine your own value, ensuring it stands out. While you want to be competitive in pricing, remember, it’s the value, the experiences, and the opportunities you provide that will ultimately resonate with potential businesses looking to join.

4 Ways to Increase Trade Association Membership 

Ways to Increase Trade Association Membership 

In the busy landscape of associations, just offering great benefits might not be enough. You want your membership numbers to grow, right? It’s about getting active – reaching out and connecting with those who might be interested. Below are four ways to amplify your reach and appeal. 

Make it Easy to Join on Your Website

The more accessible you make the joining process; the more likely businesses are to sign up. Your website is probably the first place a potential member will look. It should show off all the awesome stuff your association offers. So, when you’re setting it up or giving it a makeover, remember to use: 

  • Eye-catching visuals: A picture speaks a thousand words. Use images that resonate with your industry and the benefits of membership. 
  • Clear calls to action: Don’t make potential members hunt for the “Join” button. Make it clear, prominent, and easy to find. 
  • Events calendar: Showcase upcoming events to give a glimpse of the active community they’ll be joining. 
  • Simple navigation: A smooth user experience can be the difference between someone signing up or leaving your site. 
  • This complimentary association management checklist by MemberClicks ensures your website accurately reflects who you are, serves your current and potential members, and meets their needs. 

Use Social Media to Expand Your Reach

These social media platforms aren’t just for cute cat videos. It’s a powerful tool to connect with potential members. Share success stories, industry news, and event highlights. Engage with followers, answer queries, and create a sense of community even before they join.

Click through to learn about MemberClicks’ membership management software tools, MC Trade and MC Professional.

Create Different Membership Tiers

Not all businesses are the same, and neither are their needs. By offering varied membership tiers, you cater to both the startup looking for basic benefits and the established company seeking exclusive perks. Highlight the value each tier offers and make it easy for members to upgrade as their business grows.

Survey Your Current Members

There’s no better feedback than from those who are already a part of your association. Use trade association membership software to send out surveys. Gauge what’s working, what’s not, and areas of potential improvement. By actively seeking and implementing feedback, you not only retain current members but also make your association more attractive to potential ones. 

Remember, the key lies in not just attracting new members but ensuring that the entire membership experience is positive, enriching, and value driven. By staying attuned to the needs of your industry and continuously innovating, your association can remain a go-to hub for businesses seeking growth, connection, and advocacy.  

Wrapping Up 

Growing your trade association membership is more than just numbers; it’s about creating a community of like-minded businesses. As you move forward, remember to keep your members’ needs at the forefront. They’re not just names on a list but partners in your shared mission. 

Using a trade association membership software like MemberClicks Trade can make things more efficient and elevate the experience for your members. As you evolve, adapt, and grow, always keep the lines of communication open. Feedback, collaboration, and mutual support are the keys to a thriving association. 

Remember, each step you take towards improving your association not only benefits current members but also makes you more appealing to potential ones. Stay dedicated, stay informed, and you’re on the path to success! 

For additional resources and tools, check out other articles and choose the right software for your organization:  

Member Database – Grow your members on a single platform 

A Mobile Event App that Attendees Will Actually Want To Use 

Best Membership Website Builders for 2023 

-Understanding Membership Types: A Comprehensive FAQ Guide 

A Guide to Building Successful Nonprofit Membership Programs  

Free Member Retention Guide

Ready to retain members and keep them coming back forever and ever? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about member retention. We cover all the basics, like the first steps to member retention and how to map out your member journey. From there, we dive a bit deeper into retention tips.

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