Friday, November 7, 2008

Building Your Constituency in order to Build Your Membership

Posted by Princess Eva Angelica at 2:14 PM
You can call it branding, you can call it building awareness, you can even call it feeding your database, but it is an important new way to ultimately grow your paid membership.

Let me explain this by relating the recent membership success of my friend Howard Wahlberg.

Howard is the Assistant Executive Director at the National Science Teachers Association. He has seen his membership grow from 55,000 to over 60,000 during the past two years.

He is doing the right things: sending out marketing campaigns, testing messaging and packaging, segmenting his market, etc.

But he has another very powerful tool. The team at NSTA has established a electronic newsletter over the past few years that now includes over 280,000 subscribers – including his 60,000 members. The newsletter – NSTA Express – is automatically provided to members and is also offered free of charge to non-members. Subscribers come from visiting the NSTA home page or the “forward to a friend” button in the newsletter.

Obviously, it is a helpful resource to members. But what is really exciting about NSTA Express is how it exchanges some free information from the association in order to build the constituency or market mindshare for NSTA.

With the opt-in email relationship, NSTA gains some important opportunities.

1. Express builds awareness and allegiance to NSTA by informing and orienting prospective members to the services, activities, and resources available from NSTA.
2. Express allows NSTA build a database of those who are interested in Science education and since subscribers can self select the content from three versions; it helps NSTA to know people’s interest areas.
3. Express allows NSTA to take the pulse of what topics and issues are most important by reading click through reports.
4. Express provides a platform for NSTA to promote products and upcoming events, and yes, sell membership.

And since the newsletter was already created as a service to members, it costs very little to share it with the larger audience.

Sometimes we can become overly focused on making the membership sales instead of helping prospective members dip their toe into the water and more gradually become involved. But almost always building your network will translate into paid members.

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