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Engage and communicate value to attract and retain association members

Engage and communicate value to attract and retain association members

By Joshua DeLung

If you work for an association, you know your bread and butter is membership. And the more prestigious members you can attract, the higher the likelihood others will jump on board. But what starts the momentum? It’s all about value. You have it, but how well do you communicate it?

Remind them: It’s more than just a membership — take advantage of all the benefits

What we’ve learned working with prominent associations is that they offer a lot of value to members. But sometimes retaining membership can be a challenge because those members aren’t engaged. They have the membership for the sake of slapping it on a document somewhere as street cred but never take advantage of membership benefits. It’s not all their fault.

In fact, many associations can blame themselves for losing or failing to attract members. You can have all the best membership benefits in the world, but if no one knows about them, what good are they doing? You must engage your target audience regularly in a conversation about the value that’s already there if only they’ll take it.

The National Association of Corporate Directors, whose 13,000 members include directors from all of the Fortune 50 and organizations ranging from healthcare companies such as Humana to those in the financial sector like Wells Fargo, has communicated its value to members by working with ENC Strategy on a number of projects in recent years. Through a marketing program designed specifically to appeal to NACD’s upscale prestigious network, we saw a 300-percent return on investment after only eight weeks.

How’d we do it? We thought like the target audience, and we made an effort to truly highlight value.

Simplify the message, make it visual

As an association, you need to ensure your role, tools and services are understood. That means creating messaging that clearly explains benefits and provides strong reasons for membership. We did this with NACD by distilling the group’s vast array of benefits into five believable, tangible and distinct reasons to invest in membership. We then paired these with visual identifications of member testimonials and hundreds of member logos in every major marketing promotion and membership communication.

Improve engagement to nurture your stakeholders

It’s not enough to just communicate about benefits. If you want to keep up momentum and retain members, you need to continuously produce content that engages members to take advantage of those benefits. Engaged members are long-term members. Roll out your message in a variety of formats that work best for your audience segments. That means websites, social media and even online private forums. Develop mobile content that appeals to your current and prospective user base. And, depending on the audience, you can’t rule out direct mail.

By emphasizing benefits and communicating your value, using a simple and visual message and engaging stakeholders via compelling content, your association will be on its way to a recruitment and retention revolution.

About Joshua DeLung

Senior Director of Communication Services, specializes in strategy, public relations, writing/editing and social media.

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