Perhaps the only thing more frustrating than people NOT knowing about your membership is when the perfect prospect DOES know about it but doesn't take action.
It's as if the prospect gets stuck in the “thinking about it”, so instead of joining quickly and starting to see results, they simply do nothing.
Indeed, that's exactly what's happening. I call this stage in the member's journey “Contemplation”. For most membership programs, prospects sit in contemplation far too long. Sometimes they never leave. Sometimes they drop out of the journey altogether at this point.
In this article, I share 18 ideas for getting prospects OUT of contemplation and into your membership faster.
1. Remember that people do not care about you or the viability of the association – you must fully focus on what they want out of the relationship – be clear about the problems that you solve for them and how you support their aspirations
2. Showcase your success specifically helping members – magnetism increases with the quantity and quality of results you are able to show – it’s not enough to have a member testimonial that says a webinar was great – what specifically did that webinar help them do that they weren’t able to do before?
3. Add social proof – case studies and testimonials about the results that happen for members when they participate help your prospects envision the same results for themselves.
4. Focus on specific raw metrics that you can share – anything that impressively show your breadth or capability at solving member problems – for example, $2.1 million in state funding cuts averted, 752,000 homes roofed by our members, 236 community health centers using our media kit template, etc.
5. Remove signs of low engagement – If you have social media widgets on your website or blog that show low counts and minimal engagement, remove them until your numbers increase.
6. Intentionally create more FUN and show some personality – be a group that people want to join.
7. Carve out time to contact every guest – anyone who joins a meeting or attends an event should receive a personal outreach specifically about membership – if you can’t do a personal contact, go above and beyond to make automations feel personal
8. Your newsletter may be your best ‘sales person' – Even if your newsletter is a members-only communication, it often gets forwarded or handed to a friend. Make sure that every issue provides a compelling reason for people to join.
9. Feature success stories at meetings and events – Weave testimonials about your organization’s benefits into meetings where guests are in attendance. If you can record these, you'll be able to use the recordings in lots of ways!
10. Make a big deal about new joins – Publicize how special new members are by providing lots of recognition for new joins – showcase them in welcome kits, newsletter announcements, on your website, etc. Keep in mind that many people join memberships specifically for exposure in the industry, so if you can build in visible opportunities for that, it becomes a nice benefit.
11. Look for opportunities to shock and awe – I love it when I see members posting on social media about a welcome gift they've received from joining a membership – is your membership kit shareworthy? Even better, does it leave prospects ‘drooling' when they see other people posting about what they've received?
12. Feature a “benefit of the month” in your newsletters – support it with member testimonials.
13. Remove all techy barriers – I'm always surprised when I'm reviewing an organization's membership experience and it actually feels *hard* to join. How accessible is your membership application? Is it up-to-date? Is it easy to find where to ask questions? Do you offer multiple payment options and methods?
14. When appropriate, consider offering financial assistance – This may not be the right idea for every membership, but sometimes a reduced fee for someone new to the industry can bring a newcomer in and get them connected to the resources they'll need to be able to pay at renewal time. You could also consider asking corporations and employers to sponsor or subsidize membership.
15. Create multi-organization membership packages – consider offering members the opportunity to join two organizations at a bundled price – both organizations benefit because the alignment essentially doubles the reason to join.
16. Offer “Join with a Friend” specials – Your mom probably warned you about peer pressure when you were a kid, but in this situation, peer pressure works to your benefit. A membership is more fun and more likely to be engaging when a prospect joins with a friend.
17. Establish a clear velvet rope – there should be a significant gap between what nonmembers and members get – the larger the gap, the more benefit there is to joining
18. Be sure that the value of membership more than offsets the cost of participation – e.g. we offer more than 2000 possible continuing education credits for free to our members, saving you an average of $225 per credit hour you do through us
Are there ideas above that resonate with you? Have there been other things that you've tried that have been effective? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Joy Duling is Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership. Since 2005, Joy and her team have helped associations, trade groups and membership-based nonprofits run their programs more easily and deliver exceptional member care.
You can find FREE tools, tips and training to help you run and grow your membership organization in The Joy of Membership Help Hub.