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Ideas for Using Content to Recruit Members (Including Three You Haven't Heard Before) - 11/29/2011 -

Take this list of ideas to your next directors’ meeting and knock their socks off.

By Scott Oser

It’s Monday morning, and with coffee in hand, you are heading to your executive director’s office for the weekly directors meeting. One of the goals of this week’s meeting is to brainstorm ways to use the association’s quality content to help recruit and retain members.

You enter the meeting with pep in your step because as editor of the association’s very popular print publication, its e-newsletter, and provider of a lot of the content for the association website, you are constantly creating content of great value to your members. This is an opportunity for you to shine. You have spent a lot of time talking to editors at other associations, researching what consumer publications do, and talking to your membership colleagues as to what is possible. In short, you are prepared to knock the other directors’ socks off to the benefit of the entire organization.

As you wait for the meeting to start, you pull out your well-prepared notes on how editorial content can be used to increase recruitment and retention. The printout includes the following ideas:

1. Editorial premiums

Members love the content we provide in our publications. Why not compile some of the content we have already created and package it into a special report to be used as an editorial premium? It can be used in recruitment (join and receive this special booklet on …..) and retention campaigns (renew your membership and receive this special booklet on ……), and if cost is an issue, it can even be delivered as a pdf via email.

2. Magalogs
Consumer publishers use these in recruitment campaigns all the time. Develop a mini-mag or a "special” issue of your publication that includes enough editorial content to allow prospective members to get a good feel for the incredible content they will receive when they join, but not so much that they feel they don’t need to join to get the content. Using a combination of complete articles, teaser articles, an explanation of what they publication is all about, as well as an easy-to-complete order form is a great way to get prospects to taste some of the value they will receive on a regular basis when they join.

3. Value added content on the website and in e-mails
We seem to always have some extra content or photos or interviews or video that don’t make it into the publications or onto the website. It would be great to use this content in e-newsletters or on the website so they have a reason to go to the website, and read our e-newsletter, on a regular basis.

4. Members-only content strategy
Besides the value-added content mentioned above, we can develop a stronger members-only content strategy around the website. We can provide teasers on the home page that will get prospects interested in the content and then link to a join page so they can become a member. We can place groundbreaking information and our most recent content behind a members-only wall for a period of time so members are the only people that get access, or at least, get access first.

5. Use our analysis to our advantage

Readers can get news faster than we can produce it, so just announcing current events is no longer a point of differentiation. As editors, we can analyze the impact of happenings in the industry and use that to retain members as well as attract prospects. When we become recognized as the go-to group in our industry, it will definitely impact membership numbers.

6. Tweets, facebook, LinkedIn and blog posts
As editors we know our content better than anyone else. We also know the key players in the industry better than anyone else. We can capitalize on our knowledge by using social media to get the word out about breaking editorial news, key areas of focus in upcoming issues, value-add on the website, etc. We can also really spread the value of membership by working with our social media connections.

7. Editorial content in acquisition and retention packages
As editors we are trusted and respected. We could provide short letters from the editor, or quotes, or editorial lineups to be used in recruitment and retention activities. Having information directly from us could help portray the type of quality information they will receive as a member.

8. Editorial chats
Interaction is great for recruitment and retention. If members (and possibly even prospects) are interested, we could have a monthly online chat with an editor. The chats could be 30 minutes, handled online or on the phone, and editors would field questions on a pre-determined topic area.

9. Interview members
Involving and collaborating with members proves to be very successful in retention. If possible, we could work with members to assist us in providing content to the members. We would need to make sure that the editorial is not biased or too "salesy,” but it could increase the volume of great content we have, while also increasing the connection with participating members.

As the executive director sits down, she sees your list and smiles. That makes you happy, as you are confident that the editorial team can truly assist the organization in reaching its recruitment and retention goals. You can’t wait until it is your turn to talk, as it will get you one step closer to making that happen.

Scott D. Oser is president of Scott Oser Associates.


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