I'm presenting on the topic above at the Events By Design Small Staff Association workshop today, and while it's too late to join us, I thought I could share my best membership marketing tips for small staff associations (aka "the handout") with everyone.
Find a complimentary organization or two, and swap member lists, swap magazine ads, swap e-newsletter promotions, swap banner ads, swap conference attendance/booths/speaking spots, etc.
It takes time, but you can do personalized, segmented HTML emails using some very simple shareware tools, some skill, and a little legwork. It doesn’t require subscription to RealMagnet or Constant Contact, etc. (although that does make things WAY easier).
Word of Mouth!
Who are your passionate members and volunteers? If you know, ask them to spread the word about the exciting things you’re doing (you are doing exciting things for them, right?). If you don’t know, FIND OUT!
Don’t underestimate the value of excellent customer service at every level, from the CEO to the mail clerk. Retention is even more important than recruitment – it’s a much lower cost, higher value transaction. “How can we serve our members better today than we did yesterday?”
Little Things Mean a Lot!
Get the invoices out on time. Track who’s paid and who hasn’t paid. Proof read all written communications. Test your emails to make sure your links work. Double-check to make sure your return address (snail- or email) is correct in your marketing materials.