The distraction of the last few years continues. Member acquisition, retention, and continued association vitality are addressed in detail when I give our Board Training module to directors. How you onboard a new member sets the tone for their perception of belonging. It’s clearly at the root of member motivation. Do you just take their money and add them to the mailing list?

The same goes for event sponsors. Do you just take their financial support, put their logo on the napkins and never nurture the relationships?

Below is a list of 21 tactics I’ve seen over the years. Every industry association is uniquely motivated so not all ideas work for each. One thing is for sure, it takes work by a dedicated membership committee. Success is ultimately about people skills and communication. This list is not ‘how to find members and sponsors (that’s a different list), but a few ideas to help retain them. Find something below that you are not doing and give it a try.

  1. Be financially friendly – allow partial/ quarterly payments.
  2. Offer discounted multi-year payments (consider psychological price point for dues, $199 rather than $200).
  3. Set up auto-renewal (if they drop, offer incentive).
  4. Give members the logo art for their use in email, zoom screen backgrounds, websites, and social media posts, and provide window decals or bumper stickers (make them part of our brand).
  5. Provide a refreshed member benefit savings program for business or personal services (offer website redesign, social media advice, insurance, tax, investment advisors).
  6. Have a more detailed database to include business anniversary, birthday, any industry awards, subjects they could speak on, etc., then recognize them.
  7. Survey twice a year, once for their opinion on a subject and another on their needs. Their opinion is vital.
  8. Remind members of value(s) in newsletters.
  9. Recognize members/sponsors for their tenure, and update their membership certificate.
  10. Offer company/individual profiles for newsletter.
  11. Invite articles from them.
  12. Split membership into categories for specific topic webinars.
  13. Board and committee members MUST make personal contact thanking them for their membership/sponsorship, countering digital depersonalization. Each board member and membership committee member should make 5 quick calls a month. Yes, it’s work.
  14. Have promotional items for members.
  15. Increase industry publicity to incite pride of membership.
  16. Offer an introduction to a complimentary business (learn their needs during your call).
  17. Follow members’ social media posts and comment on them.
  18. Consider different types of social events. (Singles, family, charitable outreach, etc.)
  19. At meet ‘n’ greet events, head for the loner.
  20. Engage the industry retired folk for testimonials and for mentoring.
  21. Create a low fee membership for retired members so they “stay in the know.”

Ultimately, keeping a member or sponsor is completely about real and perceived value for them. But if a member got a call from one of the board directors just to touch base and ask how they and their families are doing, it just might be the most cost-effective tactic in the overall strategy.

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