Your members-only events offer a powerful membership benefit. At the same time, hosting events open to non-members are just as powerful for increasing your association’s membership.
Think about it: What better way to showcase your association’s value to prospective members than by inviting them to meet your members and experience your association’s value up close? With everything from sessions about hot topics in your industry to opportunities for networking, your events can be the attention-getters you need to attract new members.
Here are six tips for hosting events that boost your membership.
Consider your audience. It’s important to understand who you are communicating with so you develop the right content and communications to attract potential members to your event. Personas can help. Personas are fictional, generalized characters representing various needs, goals and challenges of your members. Create fictional characters to represent each type of member you would like to recruit. Have a persona in mind (just as you would think about a friend as you wrote a letter to him or her) as you develop event content and communications for the group each specific persona represents.
Develop can’t-miss event content. Using your personas as a guide, begin to develop the agenda and content for your event. Invite leading experts to speak on some of the most pressing topics in your industry. Offer networking events so your team and members can interact and share ideas with prospective members. And, be sure to plan some fun, informal activities so prospective members feel energized and excited about becoming a member.
Spread the word. You can’t get prospective members to attend your event if they don’t know about it. For the broadest reach, take a multi-channel approach to get the word out.
- Be sure to invite your member prospect list, and past event attendees (even if they aren’t members anymore).
- Promote the event on your website, blog and social media channels. Make sure your promotions make it clear non-members are invited. Highlight some of your event’s most compelling content and activities. Build excitement by including links to videos of your event speakers, giving previews of their sessions.
- Ask your members to tell their friends and colleagues. After all, your members are some of the most influential evangelists for your association.
Make an early ask. Event registration is an ideal time to capture new members. Give prospective members a way to join your organization as they register for your event. You can make joining even more compelling by offering an event discount for new members or highlighting a member registration price versus a non-member price for the event.
You can’t get prospective members to attend your event if they don’t know about it. For the broadest reach, take a multi-channel approach to get the word out.
Encourage interaction. Offer online forums for event registrants to increase attendee interaction before the show begins. Also, consider pairing up each prospective member with a long-time member who can welcome them and introduce them to other members.
Strike while the iron’s hot. Soon after the event, while the experience is still fresh in their minds, send each prospective member a thank you for attending. And, invite them to remain a part of the learning, networking and excitement by joining your association. Be sure to also ask them for feedback, so you can continue to make future events even more appealing to prospective members.
While events are often considered a primary member benefit, associations often overlook them as a tool for attracting new members. Consider including non-members in your next event, and see just how effective this approach can be for growing your membership.
Learn more about how to deliver an unforgettable event experience to attract new members and keep them coming back for more. Download the Ultimate Events Management Guide.