Events are a great way to engage your association’s membership. But did you know they’re also a great way to grow your association’s membership?
If you’re hoping to use an event to land new members, there’s a few things you need to consider throughout the phase of promoting, planning, running and following up for your event. With these tips, you’ll be getting member form fills by the dozens!
2 types of member-building events
There are two main ways you can use events to boost your membership numbers:
- Non-member only events just for recruitment
- General event for current members that is ALSO open to non-members
There’s really no right choice here. And you may want to do both. Each are good for their own purposes.
Non-members only events
These events are great because you can:
- Be super targeted in your messaging and talking points
- Know that everyone you talk to is a potential member
- Can be more welcoming for those who are looking for more information
- Easier to follow up with post-event communications because everyone is in the same boat
Current and potential member events
These types of member-growing events have their own benefits too! They:
- Let potential members mingle with current members (who can promote the value of your association)
- member benefits in a really natural way that doesn’t feel as salesy
- Really give potential members a chance to experience how your organization really runs
Event planning: Put on your recruitment hat
Now that you know you want to bring in more members with an event, it’s time to plan. And you need to plan all with recruitment top of mind.
Here are our top 3 tips for planning an event that will help you bring in new members.
1. Plan an event with value
This probably goes without saying, but in order to attract potential members to your organization’s event, you need to plan an event with appeal. In other words, your event needs to have some value.
Whether that value comes in the form of an interesting speaker, some fun entertainment, an educational opportunity or all three – that’s completely up to you. Just make sure it’s valuable enough that someone who’s not a member of your organization would still want to come.
Not sure what your potential members would find valuable? Consider building out member personas. More about that here.
2. Consider bundling event registration and membership
Let’s say you have some non-members interested in registering for your event. If so, that’s great! But why not allow/encourage them to sign up for membership as well – right then and there ON the event registration page? That way, they only have to enter their payment information once.
You could even bundle the membership and event registration at a discounted price, giving people even more of an incentive to join.
If you don’t want to try to push this message right away, consider offering a discount or incentive after the event as a “thank you” for them for attending.
3. Make it easy for individuals and organizations to register for your event (and join your organization)
When planning out your event, make sure that it’s super easy for people to sign up and attend. An event planning tool can make sure this process is smooth as silk.
If your membership is made up of organizations and individuals, you’ll want to make it easy for both member types to join. Some association management systems, such as MemberClicks, make this extremely easy to do. They even allow contacts who aren’t members at an organization to register and sign-up others. And the easier it is for users to sign people up, the easier it is to grow your association’s membership.
Event promotion: Target non-members!
The first big piece of scoring new members with an event is simple, but often overlooked: you need to have people attend that aren’t yet members.
This point is often overlooked because the traditional ways of promoting an event come naturally to associations and chamber professionals: include it in your newsletter, send out an email to your members, post it on your website or social pages. But the people you may want to reach most probably aren’t in those spaces yet.
To promote your membership event to non-members:
- Consider using paid ads that target your member personas (location, age, job title, industry)
- Reach out to businesses or individuals on a 1:1 basis for a personal invitation
- Share your event in public spaces like open forums, secondary groups, community activity boards, etc.
- Encourage your current members to share and pass along the event announcement
Doing a mix of all of these — plus any other ideas you come up with! — can help you reach the most non-members possible.
Post-event communications: Convert those attendees (and no-shows)!
This is perhaps the most important step to make sure your event really drives memberships to your association or chamber.
Don’t let your non-member attendees and no-shows fall off the map! No matter how interested they seemed at the event, following up can be the key to converting that interest into a membership.
Your email can encourage them to:
1) attend other meetings and events, and
2) join your organization! You can even offer them a special discount code to really get the ball rolling.
If you want to take your post-event communications to the next level, follow up with a phone call, too! That personal touch can make a big difference.
Growing your organization’s membership numbers
Events are a great way to give potential members the ability to feel what it would be like to be in your organization. You can only get so much from a web page or newsletter. Take advantage of the personal connection made at events to grow your membership numbers and kick off those relationships.
Once you have those new members, though, it’s important to keep them. And we’ve got the resources to help you do just that.