6 Ways to Help your Association Thrive

Part 4: Prospecting

Part 4: Prospecting

This is the fourth post in our series 6 Ways to Help Your Association Thrive. Before launching your prospecting campaigns, first establish your cause, sketch out a marketing plan, and find or create marketing assets. Then you’re ready for Part 4: Prospecting.

8 Best Practices to Find More Association Members

It’s time to find your people and move them to act.

Prospecting is the process of building an audience and nurturing them toward taking an action, such as attending your events, joining your association, or purchasing products. While it takes time to raise awareness and build trust with your base, good prospecting pays off. Follow these eight best practices to get a list of high-quality leads who are ready and eager to engage with your organization.

1. Establish goals.

Before you begin prospecting, determine realistic goals based on your budget and available resources. Keep in mind that it takes time to build a high-quality prospect list—maybe years. Prospecting also requires follow-up, so consider your available personnel when setting goals.

2. Determine your most likely prospects.

Prospects can include known or unknown audience segments. Your known audience might be lapsed members, nonmember event attendees, or people who purchased your products. Chances are they’re already somewhat familiar with your organization, so these could be warm leads that are easier to convert.

Your unknown audience is totally new. You won’t know much about them, and you can’t assume they know about you. Digital marketing tools can help narrow audience criteria, for example by job title, SIC or NAICS code, company revenue, and/or specific zip codes. Targeting an unknown audience might take more time and effort, but it’s a great way to get fresh blood into your organization.

3. Stay focused.

You don’t need to run digital ads on five social media platforms at once. Greater reach isn’t necessarily better. Try to narrow your audience to begin with to make the most of available resources. Two or three audience segments can help you target your efforts, but more can become too complex to manage. Help your audience stay focused by promoting only one thing at a time.

4. Use a proven workflow.

Prospecting is rarely a one-and-done endeavor. Here’s an example of a proven workflow to reach people over time: First, launch a social ad with an offer, such as a free whitepaper. When users click to claim the offer, send them to a landing page (never your homepage or a generic webpage). On the landing page, you can give away the content for free or in exchange for an email address. Once you capture the email address, follow up with an email drip campaign to nurture your leads.

5. Match the marketing asset to the customer journey.

Assume that unknown users have never heard of your organization before. Articles, toolkits, and e-books are good choices for this group. For those further along on the customer journey, member stories, infographics on member benefits, or an ROI calculator will move them toward a decision.

6. Fish where the fish are.

Choose a platform based on where your audience is likely to spend time. For example, Facebook is the most popular social media platform overall in terms of sheer numbers. However, younger demographics tend to prefer Snapchat and Instagram. LinkedIn has comparatively fewer users but offers purely professional interactions that could be more likely to achieve your desired outcomes.

7. Deliver on your promises.

Make sure your sales team is aware of your prospecting efforts and prepared to follow up and field questions. If you promise a free trial, consultation, or other giveaway, give people what they asked for. If you’re seeing low engagement or a high number of unsubscribes, this could mean people aren’t getting the value they had hoped for.

8. Stay nimble.

Not every great marketing promotion yields great results. Track performance and be prepared to make changes based on your audience’s actual behaviors.

Don’t wait for membership to fall off before you start prospecting. Continuous prospecting can ensure the sustainability of your organization while fueling engagement and non-dues revenue. To get started, download the sample prospecting workflow below.

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6 Ways to Help your Association Thrive

Part 3: Marketing Assets


6 Ways to Help your Association Thrive

Part 2: The Plan