If you’re like most associations, your member recruitment strategy probably goes something like this:
- Work very hard to get the largest companies in your industry to join, because their dues are the highest.
- Work even harder to get the medium-sized companies in your industry to join, because they are your reliable base.
- Let the small companies just find you, because the combination of lesser dues + resources needed to serve them doesn’t always feel worth it.
We understand this approach. We also know that associations must do a delicate juggling act. You need to make your payroll to stay viable, but you’re also nonprofit, charged with representing the industry.
In other words, you’re supposed to be doing it all, but your staff lacks the time and resources. So, you adopt a triage mentality, and focus your efforts on what seems like it will produce the greatest rewards.
But what if we told you there was an easily available opportunity that didn’t make your life harder and wouldn’t add more work? One that would allow you to better represent your industry AND grab a boatload of dues-paying members?
The answer is behind door number three, where the small companies are hanging out.
We’re going to show you exactly WHY you should grab them and HOW to make it worth your while.
Why Your Association Should Actively Recruit Smalls
One of our clients is a large association in the human resources industry, with about 36,000 members, and an 88% retention rate. After some discussions about their membership goals, we helped them create a campaign that would specifically target smaller businesses in the industry.
They got more than 50 new members in a matter of two months.
Here’s what the Senior Vice President and Chief Membership Officer of the association told us the other day during our weekly check-in.
“Right now, we have so many applications coming in from new members that we can’t even process them all. And we are on course to set an all-time revenue high.”
There are so many things that are great about this. First, they have an influx of new people. New people bring new blood and new opportunities. Because the CEO of that $4 million company you just recruited might be the decision maker at a $25 million company in a few years.
You never know the energy and possibility that can come with ANY new member—and that includes one that is 10 times smaller than the largest organization on your roster.
Plus, when you have a rich blend of large, medium, AND small organizations in the mix, you’re much better able to uphold your mission of representing ALL voices in the industry.
And then there’s the most obvious thing: Smaller organizations are low-hanging fruit. No-brainer revenue. The benefits of belonging to your association far outweigh the dues for most of these smalls. You just need to take the time to articulate the right message to them.
How to Handle Smalls? Automate!
We know what you’re thinking: This all sounds good, but it takes effort to recruit smalls. And if we don’t put in the effort to retain them, they’ll leave after the first year and blow our retention rate.
We hear you, and you’re right. That is a challenge. Fortunately, there’s a great answer: Automation!
You know how we helped our HR industry association client get those 50 new members? We ran multiple digital campaigns for them throughout the year. That’s it. No heavy lifting required.
We helped them craft a targeted message. It required a modest initial investment, and then it ran itself—and it continues to run itself.
That same automation can work for onboarding and retention workflow. You probably can’t afford to hire a member representative who is solely dedicated to the smalls. But you can use modern technology to streamline the process.
Targeting small organizations allows you to grow your association, thoroughly represent the industry, and plant seeds for future growth.
We understand the challenges. But we truly believe this is one of the least-accessed, BEST opportunities right now for associations.
We’d be happy to bounce ideas around with you, and help you envision what a targeted campaign to the smalls would look like.
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