A lot of businesses make the mistake of joining of every membership and waiting for the phone to ring, however, if you don’t work the membership then the membership won’t work for you.
You can throw a lot of money into memberships, so you need to align your choices with your budget and your time. You need to give yourself the opportunity to work your membership for it to be successful. You can’t just throw money at a membership and hope that the leads and projects come in, as it doesn’t work that way. While a membership will give you needed contacts in your field and possible leads, you need to work that platform as you would any other sales activity. You need to have a plan for that membership, a defined goal, objective, tactics, and its expected ROI. If that membership doesn’t reach its reasonable return on investment (ROI) then you need to ditch it as that money might be better spent elsewhere.
What is the right membership for you?
A membership is right for you if it fulfills the following:
- Advocacy needs: common groups with common needs
- Educational needs: the opportunity to grow your skill set in a defined space that provides value to your company and sales
- Database growth: the ability to add contacts to your database so you can reach out to them and engage them in your business
- Networking opportunities: the ability to meet clients and showcase your services to them and to engage with business colleagues who have common goals and objectives
As part of starting my own company I joined four memberships. I have a plan for each membership, an expected goal and projected outcome. I will evaluate each membership at the end of the year and decide how it is going, while I truly believe it takes 3 years to really gain a proper return, you still need to review each membership on an annual basis.
The 4 memberships I joined to start my company were the following
- TIAO – Tourism Industry Association of Ontario
- TIAC – Tourism Industry Association of Canada
- OMCA - Ontario Motorcoach Association
- MPI Toronto Chapter – Meeting Planners International – Toronto chapter
To be successful with each membership, you need to achieve the following objectives:
- Get involved in the membership.
Be on a committee, a panel, write articles, you must have a level of engagement to truly understand the membership and reap its benefits. If you don’t have time to get involved in a membership, then my advice is don’t join. Memberships require time and money if you don’t have one then it is a waste of time and resources for the other.
- Attend the tradeshow and networking events. This will give you another opportunity to get involved but more importantly do business. Memberships exist for the main reason of providing you with contacts, face to face opportunities to meet your potential clients and/or people in the same business as you, who can mentor you or provide you with tips to grow your business. Don’t let these opportunities come knocking and not open your door to embrace them. This is an easy, quick way to grow your business, however, it requires both time and money to achieve. If you don’t plan on attending the networking events, then don’t join the membership.
- Work the database. The point of having a membership is to be part of the database and to get the database. Make sure you use the database effectively. Put contacts that have business potential into your database right away so you will always have them even if you decide to quit the membership later. Engage the membership. When a new member joins, reach out to them and welcome them to the membership, let them know what the membership has done for you and what you do. This level of engagement will always be a good strategy. Also, reach out to potential clients through the membership by letting them know what you do. A phone call or an email is a great way to say Hi and showcase your services.
- Take advantage of the educational seminars. These seminars are put on by the association to help you as they allow you to grow your company, your assets and your skills.
- Advocacy: your membership allows the association to advocate on both your behalf and the members’ behalf with greater strength. Communicate with your membership, let them know where they can assist you, understand what advocacy efforts they are doing on your behalf and determine how you can help move that agenda forward for them and your own business.
- Have an expected timeline for ROI of the membership: I believe everything should give you at least 3x the return of investment to be worthwhile, however, I strive for 10%. Maybe 3% the first year, but I will always aim for 10%. If I don’t achieve my ROI goals and I have put both time and money into the membership, then I will cancel it and move on, knowing the legacy of its database is left behind and I can work strategically with that.
Memberships should be an essential part of your sales strategy as it allows you to grow your client list fast and easily. You just need to be smart about it and use it thoughtfully.
If you need help maintaining your membership or fulfilling your membership strategy, let us help you or perform the work for you. We can organize a small retainer for you and maintain your membership efficiently, so it is a powerful sales vessel for you. If you are an association with a membership, let us help you create a strategy, so the above goals are met by your members; help them gain effective ROI so they remain a long-lasting and loyal member.