The membership directory is a useful tool for association members. Industry partners and stakeholders make use of it often. The directory is a great way to encourage and allow members to connect with each other and to build strong partnerships.

There is a lot of thought and a lot of questions that go into producing a directory. What does process of building and updating your membership directory look like? Which format – online or printed – should your association choose? How can you market this as an invaluable membership benefit? How can your association generate revenue from it?

Building your Membership Directory

Depending on the size of your association, you might be using a sophisticated membership management system or a simple one. In both cases, you need to make sure that the data in your system is up to date before you pull it to build your directory. For this reason, you should ask you members to update their accounts and to let you know about any change of address, phone number, website, or email address.

Data in a membership directory can vary depending on the format, printed or online, but these elements are essential:

  • Company name
  • Main contact name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Toll free number (if applicable)
  • Website
  • Email address
  • Social media handles

Which Format is Best for Your Directory?

Online directories are becoming more and more popular. They are more accessible, and they offer more options, such as a search feature. You can also control their access to ensure that only members using them, or you can choose to make them public, depending on the nature or your association and industry. Another pro of an online directory is the simplicity of making corrections or regular updates.

However, in some industries, members prefer having a physical directory. Some may find it easier to use and more accessible. They do not need to be in front of their computer or connected to the internet with their smartphones to access a phone number. For example, members of trade associations may prefer a printed book to reference quickly while on-site.

Choosing the format can be tricky; both formats have pros and cons. As long as you know your industry and discuss this with the board or other volunteers, the choice should become easier.

Capitalize on your Directory

Your membership directory can be a great source of advertising for association members and stakeholders, whether in print or online. Since it is considered a day-to-day tool in most industries, exposure and ROI for advertising is invaluable. Ensure to incorporate ad space when formatting the directory and to include these advertising options in your media kit.

Other than ads throughout the directory, you can also offer an enhanced profile features by adding a coloured logo, additional contact information, or a layout that pops. By adding a few different add-on options to the directory, paying members will receive additional exposure and the association is generating

Promoting your Membership Directory

Membership directories can be promoted as a huge benefit for your members, as it is often a member’s first step to creating partnerships and forming business opportunities. Ensure that your directory is posted prominently in your website’s members area and that it is regularly advertised in any newsletters, social posts, or communications to members. All members should be aware that the directory exists and should be encouraged to utilize this tool in their daily business.

By creating a useful resource for members, you are providing value to your members. This will keep them on board while also demonstrating your dedication to the association’s success.