Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Association Membership Marketing: Are You Fishing in the Right Pond?

SCD Group is relocating its office.  During this transition, Steve is revisiting some former blogs.

This piece on association member marketing was one of the first blogs for SCDdaily.

As some of you know, I enjoy fishing.  Especially our family’s annual fishing adventure to Canada.  We’ve been doing it for more than 45 years.  Dad and my brother Dave started the tradition which now includes Dave, his twin sons Randy and Todd, my son Mike and our family friend Brian. (That’s me on the left and the “younger generation” on the right!)

Linking fishing and membership marketing may seem like a stretch but let me explain!

Here’s a potential dialog between two association professionals discussion member development:

Let’s go fishing!

“Where should we go to fish?”

  • “It depends!  What do you want to catch?”
  • “I don’t understand.”
  • “Well, deciding where depends on whether you want to catch bass, walleye, trout, marlin or bone fish.  Until you decide what you want to catch, I can’t tell you whether we should go to a lake, mountain stream or the ocean.”
 Analysis for association professionals:
  • Before you start recruiting, know your targets so you know where to fish.

“When should we go fishing?”
  • “It depends.  What do you want to catch?”
  • “I don’t understand.”
  • “Well, deciding when to fish depends on what you want to catch.  Bass tend to be early morning or late afternoon.  Walleye late afternoon into nighttime.  So, until you decide what you want to catch, I can’t tell you whether we want to fish in the morning, afternoon or evening.”

Analysis for association professionals:

  • Before you starting recruiting, know the best time for your prospects (time of year, time of day, day of week, etc.)

“What should we use as bait?”
  • “It depends.  What do you want to catch?”
  • “Well, we need different bait for different species of fish.  If we are fishing for bass, we may to use a crank bait or popper.  If we want to catch walleye, we may use jigs or leaches.  If we’re going after trout, we want a fly or small popper.”

Analysis for association professionals:

  • Not all fish like the same lures.  The same with member prospects.  You'll need to adjust your bait depending on who you are seeking.

Like fishing, you need to answer key questions before you start your member recruitment program.

Questions such as:
  • Who do you want as members?  senior executives? younger professionals? companies?
  • Once you determine who you want as members, you need to think about timing of your appeals.  When is the best time to reach that prospect?
  • And, the demographics, psychographics and other characteristics of your prospects will help you determine what benefits, services and other tools you need to create their interest in joining.

How are you determining who to reach and what tools to reach them? Given the rapid changes in communications tools, how have you adjusted your recruitment tactics?

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