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Associations Now

6 Steps to Recruitment Success

ASSOCIATIONS NOW, September 2009 Intelligence

By: Summer Faust

Summary:
Would you like your next membership drive to bring in a 40 percent increase in new members? The Accountants Society of Virginia did just that in a recent recruitment campaign.

Thomas Osina of Management Options, Inc. (which manages ASV) helped design and carry out the campaign. He says, "[ASV] was primarily making their money off of nonmember price shoppers. It means [they] inherently always have to be the least expensive. You can build customer loyalty by not competing on price, but rather on service. If you've done your job well by knowing what your membership or trade wants, you're targeting your members in such a way that you're going to have greater successes."

Osina gave Associations Now six simple steps for associations of any type, size, and scope to create their own successful recruitment campaigns.

  1. Identify what your members need ... "It sounds common," Osina says, "but you can't just say ‘I'm going to offer education or seminars.' You have to know, at this time, what topics and what programming is going to be of interest."
  2. … And offer it the right way. In addition to offering exactly what members are looking for, you must also identify your audience and how to reach them. After working with a convenience store association, Osina saw a clerk at a store he was patronizing bring in the mail, including the association magazine Osina had painstakingly created. After the clerk went through the mail, Osina saw that he tossed the magazine and kept only bills—and postcards. "That's when I said, ‘You know how I'm going to promote our convention? Postcard.' My response rate went up dramatically."
  3. Make sure the price is right. Discuss what problems your profession faces that your association helps members resolve, and don't be afraid to charge what those products and services are worth: "[It] sounds obvious, but we made the financial difference between being a member and a nonmember substantial enough to make it worth becoming a member."
  4. Market, market, market. Once Osina made the connection between what the association should be offering and what problems needed resolutions, he created a visible campaign that tied all elements together. "We came up with a slogan of ‘Count on Us.' It was catchy, it fit the [accountant] group, and we could elaborate [on it]. Then we pounded the hell out of that expression, so we even changed the name of the newsletter to Count on Us. The president used it in his membership letter. Count on us if you're a member to provide you with networking, the education, the legislative representation, and a peer group."
  5. Provide outstanding customer service. "We invested time and effort to make sure there was a live person answering the phones," Osina says. "We were able to close the sale [with callers] because there was always a live person available to them."
  6. Know what your competition is offering. There are always competitors aiming for a slice of your members' time, involvement, and money. "Figuring out what your competition is offering in terms of price, services, and product not only [helps] for ideas but it also helps you establish your place in the market," Osina says.

Summer Faust is project editor for ASAE & The Center. Email: sfaust@asaecenter.org

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