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How to Increase Member Participation in Your Association How to Increase Member Participation in Your Association How to Increase Member Participation in Your Association Paradigm Marketing and Design
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Marketing Tips, Insights, and Trends

How to Increase Member Participation in Your Association

Author: Lisa Cords Category: Marketing, Membership Marketing Date: March 16, 2023

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Your professional trade association relies on its members to thrive. While bringing in new members is an essential piece of the equation, member retention is foundational to your organization’s success. Encouraging participation and boosting engagement are the most effective ways to retain members over the long haul.


Think about it: by allowing members to play an active role, ensuring they take advantage of the benefits offered, and giving them a voice, you are helping them form an emotional connection with your organization. The more connected members feel, the longer they will stay.


How to Increase Member Participation

Encouraging participation is the pathway for creating rewarding member experiences. If you’re struggling with low member participation, here are some ideas to ignite engagement:


  • Make a good first impression: Set the right tone from the beginning. In the early months of their membership, your members will be assessing whether or not it’s worth the investment. Start with the basics: thank them, give them a proper orientation, and highlight the benefits they will receive. You may even want to send out a welcome package with a personalized note.


  • Tailor your communications: Customize your interactions with members based on their needs and goals. Your members are not one-size-fits-all, so don’t treat them that way. Send content that’s relevant to them, connect them to resources they may find useful, and make your interactions personal and meaningful.


  • Actively promote your benefits: Don’t be shy when it comes to the benefits your organization offers. Your members may not be aware of all the perks available to them; don’t assume that because you told them once they will retain it all. People are busy, and their mindshare may be limited at times. Stay top of mind with consistent reminders through social posts, newsletters, meeting announcements, emails, and more. And make it easy on them. Show them exactly how and where to access those benefits at any given time.


  • Ask for feedback: One of the most organic ways to increase participation is to ask members for their thoughts, opinions, and suggestions. By soliciting their input, you not only engage them in a two-way dialogue, but also show them that their voice matters and that you are committed to continuous improvement.


  • Be accessible and responsive: When members come to you with questions or concerns, respond in a timely manner—and with a thoughtful response that addresses their issues. If you don’t have an answer immediately, let them know you received their input, and you will follow up with a response. By showing them you care about—and will address—what’s on their mind, you build loyalty and trust, which will naturally give way to more engaged members and increased participation over time.


  • Hold engaging meetings and events: Host recurring in-person and virtual events—and actively encourage participation—to create a strong sense of community among members. These face-to-face interactions (even if those interactions are virtual) open up networking doors, fuel innovation, and create a sense of connectedness among members.


  • Provide an online member portal: Give members an easy way to access resources—and each other—via your website. For example, offer online forums, a library of resources, job boards, and more in an easy-to-find and easy-to-use members-only portal. With a one-stop-shop of everything they need and an easy way to communicate they will be more likely to be active in your association.


  • Engage on social: Stay active on social channels and encourage members to follow. Post relevant content regularly and respond to comments. Or even better, create a Facebook page exclusive to members where they can connect, ask questions, and share ideas.


By adopting some or all of these strategies, you can turn a low-participation membership base into one that is highly engaged and remains strong year after year. Ultimately, the best way to encourage active participation and fuel a healthy membership is to stay connected, be authentic, and add value.


If you’re looking for more ideas about how to encourage member participation or for general marketing guidance for your trade association, Paradigm can help!

Have questions? Contact us

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