3 simple steps to successful member marketing for small associations

With a small staff, member marketing can be a big challenge.

Here are three steps to help you get the most out of your marketing efforts.  

You know that member marketing is important for your association. The approaches you take make all the difference when it comes to successful member recruitment, engagement, and retention.

But when you have a small staff, member marketing isn’t always easy. You don’t have time for complex plans and complicated campaigns. So, with limited time, how do you focus your work and maybe even take your member marketing to the next level?

Let’s break down three simple steps that will help your small association get big results out of your member marketing efforts:  

  1. Identify your goals and objectives.
  2. Build a strategy.
  3. Optimize your marketing channels.

1. Identify your goals and objectives.

Your organization might be a nurses’ association. It might be a bar association. Or maybe it’s focused on some other industry or profession. No matter what type of association yours might be, start by defining your goals and objectives. Yes, this might sound like one more thing to do – you just need to get going, right?

But keep in mind that establishing your goals and objectives will help guide your member marketing strategy and tactics by giving you a clear purpose for your marketing activities. Goals and objectives will also give you a benchmark to determine the success of your marketing activities. And they can be really simple. For example:

Goal – This is a broad definition of what you want to achieve. For instance: To increase overall membership by attracting new members.
Objective – This is a specific and measurable step toward your goal. For instance: To increase new members by 10 percent among students and new graduates by the end of this year.

You’ll likely have multiple goals and multiple objectives for each goal. Just make sure that your goals and objectives are clearly defined and measurable.

2. Build a strategy.

Next, think about the membership programs and offerings that you will use to achieve each of your member marketing objectives. Here are some that many associations find to be invaluable for recruiting and retaining members:


Events are powerful tools for member marketing. They provide learning and networking opportunities, which are among the benefits members value most. They’re also one of the largest sources of non-dues revenue for associations.

You can make it easier to deliver great event experiences by using all-in-one association management software (AMS) like YourMembership AMS by Community Brands, which has modern event technology built in. It can help you do things like:

    • Use workflow automation to streamline manual event-related tasks, freeing time that staff can use to deliver a top-notch event.
    • Use an automated wait list, making it easier for potential attendees to add themselves to a waitlist and for your staff to manage the wait list – ultimately helping you fill more seats for your events.
    • Improve event attendee engagement and the overall attendee experience by allowing attendees to quickly check in online, using a mobile event app to give attendees the information they need, and easily tracking and awarding continuing education credits for attendees.

TIP: Hosting events that non-members can attend is a power-play for member marketing. This approach allows you to show the value of your association to potential new members. Add a “guest” badge to their nametag so your staff and volunteers can easily identify them, make them feel welcome, and help them better understand the value of membership. Also, consider offering attendees an incentive to join your association when they sign up for an event.

Online job board/career center

Career advancement is a top reason members join professional organizations. By offering an online job board, or online career center, you can attract new members, help them find their next great job opportunity, and provide the career resources they need to land the job. You can also deepen your relationship with members by helping them to grow their careers and achieve their goals by becoming their trusted resource for professional development. An online job board can also drive non-dues revenue for your association.

TIP: Add a job board to your website that non-members can access. This will help drive traffic to your website and get you seen by more people in your industry. Then, generate a report of non-member job seekers to use in targeted marketing efforts to drive new members.

The right job board software and job board provider can help you get a robust online career center up and running. For example, YM Careers by Community Brands integrates with YourMembership AMS, providing job board software to power your online career center. Each job board includes Career Planning Portal, a career advancement hub that offers a comprehensive set of career resources.

One of the great things about YM Careers is that you pay no up-front costs: YM Careers doesn’t start making money until you do. And if you don’t have staff available to manage job board sales and marketing, YM Careers can help you showcase your job board to employers and job seekers.

Online member community

By creating an online member community, you can inspire and enable members to access and share relevant content, connect with each other, and make your association a part of your members’ daily social networking habits.

Using an AMS system like YourMembership AMS, which includes online community functionality, makes it easy to set up a thriving online member community. Not only is an online community an attractive member benefit by itself, it’s also a powerful tool for membership marketing. For example, you can:

    • Highlight your association’s programs remind members of the valuable benefits your association provides.
    • Give non-members limited access to your online member community to demonstrate the value of being a part of your association.
    • Understand member interests by paying attention to what they’re talking about in the online community and setting up and promoting online surveys to gather their feedback.
    • Encourage member engagement by setting up discussion groups about key topics that align with member interests.
    • Post industry-related content, making your community the go-to place for information while providing an environment in which to create dialog around your content, get feedback, and keep members coming back for more.

TIP: Get your members more involved with your association by asking them to volunteer for your online member community. For example, ask them to get conversations started and keep them going by posting in your online community several times each week.

Online continuing education and learning programs

Offering learning content is an effective way to help your members grow their careers. Members and prospective members look to your organization for things like:

    • Completing trainings for professional growth
    • Fulfilling industry continuing education requirements
    • Earning certifications and credentials to advance their careers

You can make it easier to organize and deliver a modern and convenient online education experience by using Freestone learning management system (LMS) by Community Brands. It integrates with YourMembership AMS to help you easily deliver engaging live and on-demand content.


Your association is a source of information for your industry. Build content that delivers the most effective information in the most effective way to attract new members and provide value to current members. Some helpful ideas:

    • Assess what content you already have that can be re-used, re-purposed, and used as a starting point for new content.
    • Brainstorm new content ideas based on what’s happening in your industry and what will be most relevant to your members.
    • Provide a mix of content media, such as papers, articles, videos, etc., to keep your content interesting and engaging.

TIP: You don’t have to create all of your own content. Ask volunteers to help develop content to ease the burden on your staff while getting members more engaged. For example, ask members to write an article or paper, or to present at one of your webinars or conferences. You can also ask members to create short video or written testimonials about their member experience that you can use in member recruitment campaigns.

3. Optimize your marketing channels.

Once you have a strategy in place, it’s time to define and optimize the channels you’ll use to promote your organization’s programs. Here are channels that you can focus on to get big results for your member marketing:


Your website makes a first impression on potential members and offers resources for your current members. Make the most of your website by:

    • Refreshing it – An old and poorly formatted site is a turn-off. Keep your website fresh and modern by making it mobile-friendly, redesigning your site to keep it modern and easy to read, and making sure it’s easy to navigate.
    • Optimizing it for search engines – Make sure your site uses best practices to make it easy for members and potential members to find it. For example, keep your content updated and incorporate keywords that users will likely type in to find the information they’re seeking.
    • Adding your membership application – If you haven’t already done so, move your paper-based membership application to your website. Make it easy for prospective members to find, and make sure you ask for only the information you really need to process the membership so that the form doesn’t turn people off.

TIP: YourMembership AMS includes a content management system with mobile-responsive layouts and an easy-to-use editor tool to help you quickly build emails, forms, and web pages that will work and look great on desktops and mobile devices. YourMembership also offers design services to help you produce a modern website that attracts your target audiences and helps you meet your organization’s member marketing goals.


Email is a great way to connect with prospective members and keep current members engaged. But email must be used thoughtfully to be effective. For example:

    • As with your website, design your emails so that they’re attractive and easily readable on mobile devices.
    • Segment your email list by member behavior, engagement, demographics, and more so that you can send information that’s most relevant to each audience.
    • Automate process-related emails, such as membership renewal confirmations and receipts, to free your staff’s time to work on more strategic member marketing activities.

TIP: Email campaign management functionality in YourMembership AMS allows you to quickly and easily create email lists and target email communications based on a variety of member properties.

Social media

Using social networking to its fullest requires a plan. Your social media approach should align with the needs and interests of your prospects and members. Some ideas:

    • Find out where your ideal members are hanging out by researching your current members’ social media habits; send your members a survey asking them what platforms they use and how they use them.

TIP: YourMembership AMS has survey functionality built in, making it easy to build and send targeted surveys and collect feedback.

    • Use the information you learn about social media channels to demonstrate your value as an information curator: Share your own content; share content from other sources in your industry; and let followers know about the valuable member offerings you provide, such as your events, online job board, online member community, and learning program.
    • Use social media as a tool to interact with your members. Liking, commenting, or replying to comments on relevant posts is a great way to stay engaged with prospects and members and to keep tabs on what they’re doing.


Learn more about member marketing for associations.
Your association’s approach to member marketing is vitally important to the ongoing success of your organization. Learn more tips on how to optimize your small staff’s time on member marketing activities: Read the guide, The Small Association’s Guide to Membership Marketing.

Kyela Bishop at YourMembership AMSBy Kyela Bishop, YourMembership Marketing Coordinator, Community Brands

Blog Subscribe

Bottom of page subscribe button

This will close in 0 seconds