Use Storytelling to Improve Membership Recruitment

People join professional, industry, and community organizations for a variety of reasons that include networking opportunities, skills development, or desire to give back to others, but everyone also wants to be part of a group that includes people who they like, admire, and respect.

While listing benefits of membership is an effective way to quantify the value an association membership offers, storytelling offers another way to show potential members or retain existing members why they should engage with and stay loyal to the association. In fact, a study by the London Business School demonstrated that how facts are delivered matter, with an audience’s retention rate increasing by 25% to 35% when presenters used storytelling elements.

  • The member profile of “Dr. Dirt” in the International Erosion Control Association’s magazine, tells the story of a long-time industry leader who has inspired others to seek excellence in their field. Potential members learn about the passion and commitment he brought to his career through his words as well as comments from other members who learned from him.

Neither of these stories is a hard sell to join or to renew a membership, but both illustrate careers and backgrounds that other people want to emulate and to learn from. This is a tactic used by employment recruiters to connect businesses to candidates through the use of stories that describe the culture of the company as told by current leaders and team members.

As one author points out, stories are memorable and engaging, and they capture emotions. Suggestions for telling your association’s story include:

  • Encourage leadership to share stories about their journey to management to show them as accessible, human, and engaging.
  • Share employee and member stories to show the variety of people who believe in the organization.
  • Communicate values and beliefs so potential members can see how their values align with the association and how they can contribute.
  • Highlight the social aspect of the association to include education, networking, social events, and community service activities.

While videos and social media are excellent media to tell your association’s story, don’t forget the value of a good profile article in your magazine, online news center, blog, or website. Letting potential members see who they will associate with as members and learning about the association through existing member stories is an impactful addition to an association’s membership recruitment toolbox.