In PAR's 2023 Business Development Landscape Report, 87% of respondents said membership was the "highest priority for revenue." But technology advancements, evolving member expectations and a new generation in the workforce means traditional membership models may no longer be effective. Rethinking the way we build, connect and grow our communities requires new ideas and a strategic approach. In this month's Executive Take, we asked four association professionals:
What is one big idea membership teams can consider to grow their audiences in 2024 and beyond?
"My big membership idea for 2024 is to make everything small. If I could wave a magic wand and make one thing happen for every member of an association, it would be to give them at least 10 significant connections each. It's not about being connected to thousands or even hundreds, but people want to feel connected. It could be in many different directions or forms for just one member, but I'd think about how I connect them geographically, within specialties or interests, within peer groups (young professionals, executives, etc.), along a career path as perhaps both a mentor and a mentee and through social activities. I'd also give thought to how to better connect members through how they access and consume the association's content (whether it's through in-person events, webinars, whitepapers, podcasts, etc.) and tie all of this together for the individual through communities. If an association will make these efforts, I'm confident they will both enhance member engagement and increase member loyalty."
"Associations will need to disrupt their membership model - or they risk being disrupted and losing members rather than growing membership. The first step, however, is to understand what problem your association is solving for members and prospects. Second, know what technology is out there and what is possible in terms of customizing the membership experience. Third, identify a low-risk/low-reward, medium-risk/medium-reward, and high-risk/high-reward pricing strategy that can help you achieve your membership goals."
"The year 2024 is going to be the biggest year in the association industry (or at least I hope so.) Rather than focusing internally and on ourselves the members, we’re going to focus externally on the ecosystems in which we work, live, contribute etc. We’re going to harness the untold amount of passion that we have for our own causes, and we are going to do something to fix a real big problem. We’re not going to settle for selling a few cakes or planting a few trees, but we are going to work with industry, government, academia and associations and we’re going to start to fix the problems together that can’t be fixed on our own. And we’re not going to settle for anything less. Your passion should not be employed in corporate and organizational tasks like membership growth or what webinar to run. Your passion should be fused with the passion of your colleagues and associates and be used to fix a problem in a town, a city, a region, an industry, a medical issue etc. Let’s turn our associations into the stages that our members (and anyone else who connects with us) will use to put on the most amazing shows in town - and change the world."
"Is it time to take the leap from being a marketing organization to becoming a sales organization? Almost all nonprofits have a membership marketing team that manages acquisition and renewal efforts, owns the web content for membership, coordinates the database, etc. Many organizations don't have someone who actually pursues and closes sales. The next step, if you haven't taken it, may be hiring a commissioned salesperson."