Borrowing Best Practices for Member Recruitment

by | Jul 22, 2021 | Blog

If you have read our past blogs, you know we are big fans of drawing on analog examples from other industries and fields to improve outcomes in the association world.  This time is no different.  After speaking with Tony Rossell of Marketing General about his new book Membership Recruitment and the 13th annual Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, we decided to pull the thread on talent acquisition best practices.

According to Vantage Circle’s blog on talent acquisition, the five best practices are 1) prioritize what you need, 2) keep track of the talent pool, 3) invest in succession planning, 4) get everyone on board, and 5) talent management.  To help associations draw new strategies from this list of best practices, we break them down below.

Prioritize What You Need

In a race to keep up with membership, how often is your organization simply casting the largest net possible without regard for who will benefit most from engagement, and perhaps more importantly, who will best serve the needs of your organization?

Word-of-mouth remains the most effective channel for new member acquisition according to the latest benchmarking report.  This indicates that with some focus on which members are positioned well to be influencers in the industry, an increase in member acquisition could come from current members.  Prioritizing marketing efforts on those individuals should be a part of any strategy for member acquisition.

Keep Track of the Talent Pool

The market for recruitment software in the human resources industry has grown tremendously over the last few years creating more efficiencies in tracking which candidates are shortlisted, which need to be interviewed for future potential, and which ones are not meeting expectations.  According to the benchmarking report 37% of associations report they lack the tools for tracking and analyzing marketing results.  Another 34% report having inadequate membership dashboards and reporting tools.

As Advancea has learned through innovating our technology platform, the Perks Marketplace, the collection of data and ability to analyze the results are critical to assessing the value of affinity programs.  Once the organization has prioritized which members to focus marketing efforts on, it must spend the time and resources analyzing the outcomes of those marketing efforts. 

Don’t just look at whether the members joined or not, track defections too.  Seeing where your desired members go for their community, education, and networking is critical to better develop your value proposition in the future for new recruits or win-back strategies.

Invest in Succession Planning

The benchmark report tells us that 63% of members in associations are of either the Baby Boomer generation or Generation X.  To ensure engagement from the younger generations, what if an association developed a mentoring program with this majority of current active members to create a path of goodwill and retention?

Good companies are consistent in their efforts to foster growth in existing employees to groom them for succession of more experienced executives.  Borrowing from this mindset could make the association stickier within an existing member company, ultimately reducing customer acquisition costs by improving renewal rates.

Get Everyone on Board

Membership recruitment is not solely the job of the head of membership, any more than talent acquisition is just for HR.  The entire organization should be in on the prioritizations and needs for membership.  Most companies have some form of incentive for internal referrals for talent.  What would this look like for employees within an association? 

In our discussion with Tony, he mentions that offering incentives to join is still a very powerful tool in getting immediate engagement.  Incentives can work both internally and externally.  Happy employees who are rewarded for identifying talent for companies in turn promote and recruit more employees when the need arises.  Think of how often you’ll see a job opening announcement on LinkedIn coming from a current employee rather than just HR.  This is an opportunity to reengage the entire organization on membership recruitment.

Talent Management

Training and development programs are one of the key incentives new employees look for when joining a new company.  They want to know if they will be supported in their career growth and how their new employer encourages professional development in both hard skills and soft skills.

How can this translate and be impacted by current educational programs already available in your organization?  Are there ready pathways to association leadership?  Do your members feel invested in, not only for their role in the industry they serve but also the role they might play in furthering your association’s mission?  Create a track for members that help them see the benefits of serving in some voluntary capacity with the association and provide education around that.

Membership Drives Everything Else

As Tony said in his discussion with us, membership marketing is the essential lever for getting members in new channels and is critical for driving overall growth for an association.  Taking a page out of a seasoned Talent Acquisition organization’s book could help break through the two impediments that Tony sees in reaching full potential. 

By prioritizing and focusing on which customers you need most and by tracking all metrics associated with member recruitment, an association can break through their paralysis of analysis and move to a more agile system, and as Tony says, to a ready, fire, aim approach.

By investing in resources, internal engagement, and development, more associations will be able to execute.  As an old boss of mine once said, a vision without resources is just a hallucination.  If you set a goal, you must invest to make it happen.