Tag Archive for: member assimilation

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

Member Recruitment with an Eye on Assimilation (767 words)

As I read comments on member-get-a-member ideas by association membership directors at a Linkedin Group discussion, I can’t help from wondering if they are even considering member retention. An important thought for association and society executives is; do you want the instant gratification of a membership spike or the satisfaction of sustainable organic growth?

Incentives for Member Recruitment

Giving current members an incentive for recruiting new members can be a great way to temporarily boost membership numbers but is a poor method for true organizational organic growth. This is similar to a sales person that is only interested in making the sale and not interested in developing long-term customers. Instant gratification is rarely the best course of action for sustainable organizational growth.

What’s the true long-term organizational value derived from an aggressively competitive member recruiting new members solely for his or her ego and need for the instant gratification of winning a contest? Can, or will, this aggressively competitive recruiter also aggressively help to assimilate the new recruits? I don’t think so, and without successful assimilation, there will be no retention.

The Recruitment Myth

Turnstile membership recruitment is a waste of valuable resources and ultimately damages an organization’s reputation. Rather than having advocates and evangelists in the marketplace, praising the benefits of membership; turnstile member recruitment fosters disgruntled ex-members that extol the perceived indifference that they experienced while holding membership. In this situation, your organization would have been better off not having them as a member in the first place.

New Member Assimilation

You know this, your new members receive huge value from attending your conventions and conferences—when they have a guide and mentor serving as their pathfinder. The challenge with the above mentioned aggressive recruiter is that said recruiter has no time to be a pathfinder for several freshman members.  Sometimes organizations are sophisticated enough to assign first time conference attendees a mentor, however this is only minimally effective because of no prior relationship.

The absolute best is for a member to get a member—only one per year—urge the new member to attend the organization’s upcoming conference and be their pathfinder and assimilator throughout the meeting. The new member feels included, benefits from educational and networking opportunities, and develops an emotional ownership in their membership of your organization. This is the crucial foundation for any long-term member.

What’s Missing?

The reason that so many member-get-a-member campaigns fail to deliver long-term members is because the foundation upon which the new members were sold their membership is one of sand rather than bedrock. What’s missing is a credible member recruitment tool that explains in real-dollar terms what the member gets in return for their investment into the new organization. Without this critical link, member recruiters can only arm-twist or offer hollow promises of the benefits of membership. Member recruiters must be able to prove in real-dollar terms that membership is a good business decision.

Changing Member Recruiters Motivation

To transform your members from aggressive recruiters that are motivated solely based on the instant gratification of wining a contest or filling their pockets with incentives; to advocates and hopefully, evangelists, does take smart planning and implementation. Your current members must truly understand and believe, to their core, that their association or society delivers an excellent return on their investment of both money and time. They must have a strong emotional ownership in the idea that membership is a good business decision. They must also completely understand how a larger and stronger organization will have the capability to deliver even more measurable value to every stakeholder. There is always the fear that if the organization grows too much the intimacy will disappear. The organization must also demonstrate through its long-term planning strategy that there are future programs being developed to sustain the valued intimacy.

Evangelists or Detractors, the Choice is Yours

How your organization approaches growth will largely determine results. If the instant gratification of an immediate membership spike is important to your organization, you will ultimately develop more detractors than evangelists. However, if your organization is willing to adopt an organic grassroots approach to growth, the benefit received by the organization and its members will be transformational. Take this path and your organization will enjoy in its ranks, legions of member recruitment evangelists. Your organization will also enjoy higher than normal member retention—evangelists stay, while detractors leave.

Do you really need to give your members a $25 Starbucks card to motivate them to tell a colleague or competitor why it is a good business decision to hold membership in your organization?

Shift Your Culture to that of Recruitment Evangelism (744 words)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

Member Recruitment Evangelism

Recruitment Evangelism, is it possible? You’ve heard it before, “You’re either green and growing or ripe and rotting.” This has never before been truer in the world of trade associations and professional societies.  Too frequently, what your baby boomer aged members want is not consistent with what today’s recent college graduates desire. What’s an association executive to do?

Change your organization’s culture to that of Recruitment Evangelism. Help your long-term members to see the wisdom behind diversity and inclusion, especially in the generational area. Help them not to fear the young upstarts. Help your current members to see the value to them personally in your organization reaching critical membership mass industry market share.

Recruitment Evangelism, What’s In It For the Baby Boomers?

  1. Legacy; as the senior members of your organization see retirement closer than farther—thoughts emerge about leaving footprints. Help them to see the need for their life’s work to matter and to continue.
  2. Making a difference; when senior members mentor younger members, both win. The senior member gets the satisfaction on moving from simply being successful to living significantly. While the junior member accelerates their industry learning curves through accessing the senior member’s lifetime knowledge bank.
  3. Legislative power; your senior members have strong opinions on their industry and the role government plays in enabling or inhibiting commerce. The more members (market share), the greater the voice your organization will have locally, regionally, and nationally.
  4. More programs; with more members comes more money to focus on the specific needs of various contingency groups represented by your organization—and hopefully some of the new programs developed will be focused on the needs of senior members.
  5. Successful succession planning; many of your senior members plan to turn their business over to a child or children. Leaving behind, a strong and thriving association to assist bolsters their confidence in the next generation of company leadership and governance.

Three Conduits for Recruitment Evangelism

  1. Direct selling is the most expedient method for member recruitment but with it comes a price; time and treasure. Direct selling can be done in person and this method is the most effective but not the most efficient. Direct selling can also be done over the telephone which is very efficient but not as effective. For successful direct selling, employing professional sales persons is generally the only sustainable method. You can do telethons but the downside there is ineffective member assimilation follow up.
  2. Direct marketing, hard copy via the postal service or electronic via the Internet can be marginally effective however extremely expensive.
  3. Word-of-mouth, member-get-a-member is the best of all approaches because the cost is minimal, the human power is extensive, and the prospect is sold and assimilated effectively.

Recruitment Evangelism, Nurturing Your Evangelists

  1. Give your enfranchised members the correct tools that spell out, in no uncertain terms, the yearly sustainable real-dollar return on investment (ROI) on member-only benefits. This will help them to prove to prospects and colleagues that membership in your organization is a good business decision.
  2. Give your recruitment evangelists the organizational structure and support (ie committee opportunities, Sr./Jr. Mentoring programs, YPO programs) to help them effectively assimilate new members. When members join and stay, it’s a win for your recruiters.
  3. Give them some public recognition for their efforts at your annual meeting or some other appropriate event.

Understand the Circular Member Lifecycle

  1. Recruitment; the member joins the organization.
  2. Assimilation; the member starts to participate and feel welcomed.
  3. Engagement; the member starts to actively participate on their own without the prodding of their mentor or recruiter.
  4. Retention; the member is fully enfranchised in the organization and has been for several years.
  5. Evangelist; the member is so thrilled with his or her long-term experience that they want to spread the good news about the member-only benefits of participation in their organization and urge others into membership.
  6. Recruitment; it all starts again, see step number one.

For Recruitment Evangelism to become a reality, at the core of your culture shift needs to be an understanding of the real-dollar ROI your organization delivers. This is the basis for recruiting the younger generations that are dealing with working spouses, high-level involvement with their children, and the knowledge that they can seek industry knowledge quite effectively through the Internet. Your organization might consider abandoning its sacred cow activities in favor of developing communities of reciprocity for members of all ages. Prove to current and new members alike that holding membership in your organization is a good business decision.