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Don’t Spook your Members with these Member Recruitment Mistakes

Membership recruitment is different for every association and is constantly changing. With our tips, your association can avoid some of the top recruiting mistakes out there!

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It is no surprise to say that membership recruitment is important. In fact, you could argue that membership recruitment is the most important aspect when growing your association. And therefore, It’s essential to continue engaging your current members.

But with that being said, member recruitment can be a scary topic for both associations and their potential members. During the spookiest time of the year, Halloween should be the only thing scaring your association away from a successful member recruitment strategy. That’s why this blog post is dedicated to member recruitment mistakes, and how your association can avoid making them.

Breaking down member recruitment

In order to truly get down to the bottom of common mistakes associations make, it’s first necessary to break down the structure of member recruitment and build up from there. When discussing recruitment, Your association’s focus should be divided into two segments: membership attraction and engagement. You need to make sure your association has an initial interest with members, and that you can keep them interested for a long-term membership. Having said that, the best way to brand your association is to have loyal and happy members supporting you.

Membership recruitment is different for every association and organization and is constantly changing with marketing trends and social media. And keeping your members happy will vary, so your association needs to work on a strategy all its own. So, before knowing what you could be doing wrong, it is important to know the reasons why members join associations - and why they may stay away.

The Why

  1. Networking with others in the industry
  2. Learning best practices for their profession
  3. Attending conferences and trade shows
  4. Professionals of all ages want to be able to do their best in their careers. Associations help them have the tools they need to do this.

The Why Not

  1. Funds are low - unable to afford a full fledged membership
  2. People aren’t sure what kind of professional resources and benefits associations have
  3. Not enough promotion for people to know what associations are out there

In most cases, it seems like audiences need to be engaged and informed about the value of your association- and the pricing options that are available to them. It all comes down to promotion.

Membership recruitment is an essential part of member marketing. And in order to effectively recruit members, the marketing channels used to reach audiences should be finely tuned.

Let’s take a look at a few marketing channels that might be hurting your chances at gaining potential members.

Radio Advertising:

In today’s social climate, radio and with that radio advertising are dying. Most young people do not listen to the radio. Your association could be wasting its marketing budget if it focuses on this channel.  


If the people you are trying to recruit are on the fence about joining your association, pestering potential members with phone calls won't help your case. Not to mention, calling someone at their personal phone number can be considered an invasion of privacy.

Advertising in outside publications:

your advertising campaigns is only as great as the people who see it. Posting in an outside publication/running print ads eliminates the massive online audience that your association has at its fingertips. Think smart, and use online marketing to your advantage. So, instead of using these recruitment channels with horrifyingly slim results, try these recruitment marketing channels out instead:

Word of mouth referrals

84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services – making these recommendations the highest ranked source for trustworthiness. People like to know what they are getting into, and hearing recommendations from people they trust can do the trick. First hand accounts of all the great things your association has to offer. Another way to incentivize your current members to recruit new members is to offer them some sort of benefit if they were to bring in a new member. A loyalty program can help take your recruitment to the next level.

Email marketing campaigns

Emails are a great way to promote your association because- well, everyone has email. As long as your email content is up to par, it can reach dozens or even hundreds of people at a time. But, it is important, to make sure that your emails aren’t being put into the junk folder and that the message you want to communicate is executed in a way that is obvious to the reader and easy to see.


Like email marketing, you need to make sure that you are marketing wherever your potential members are. So, what better way to do that than by inviting non-members to join one of your association's conferences

Conferences are great events for professional networking between attendees, and therefore a place where people who would be interested in your association’s resources would be. Inviting members in to get a taste of what they might have with your association is only smart when thinking about proper recruitment tactics.

Incentives: A recruitment must

When recruiting new members, its important to use incentives as selling points. In order for someone to join an association they need to feel as though they are receiving the value of their membership dues each and every year. And this is where incentives come into play. Incentives help people feel wanted and valued. When you offer someone an incentives, you are proving to them that you will give them the resources they’re looking for in order to close any doubts that they might have about joining. The best incentives include:

Annual conference discounts

Conferences are a great way for people to learn and network. By offering these benefits to your recruitments they will see the value of your association.

Annual membership options

People want to feel like they have options when signing up for an association membership.. By offering your new recruitments a discount or alternate membership options, they will feel welcomed and be excited to join. On the opposite side, here are some incentives that may not be the best option for your association.

Refundable dues

Refundable membership options are not a positive reinforcement because it gives the potential member a motive to back out. It also sends a message that your association does not view itself as an essential commitment. You don’t want your members to look for the door when they’ve just signed up for your association.

Non-industry related benefits

Your association’s audience is looking for a way to advance their professional skills and move forward in their life career-wise. Offering them incentives that do not relate to their own growth/they do not find valuable will only turn them away altogether.

When offering new incentives, make sure they pass the test with members and that they’re actually sought after. With all of this in mind, your association doesn’t have to feel like it’s walking into a haunted house when tackling membership recruitment. Be sure to use these tips the next time your association sits down to analyze its own membership rates.