“Try it, you’ll like it”[1] is reportedly the earliest reported word of mouth campaign slogan.

Word of mouth (WOM) is an effective and the least expensive way to market association memberships and conference registrations and something your association should consider as part of your next membership planning session

Traditional WOM Marketing

Easy to implement WOM tactics include:

To increase membership, existing members can be encouraged to to ask one colleague to become a new member.

Members can be encouraged to participate by offering recognition and/or rewards for bringing a new member(s) ranging from mention in a newsletter, reduced membership fee for the coming year or discounted conference registration.

To help members explain the benefits of membership, support materials can range from wallet/purse-size cards to glossy brochures.

A membership campaign strategy could include tactics to retain new members, e.g. mentorship/buddy program (ideally with both the person who brought in the new member and at least one-other member), with several planned follow-up contacts at key time intervals (e.g. a few days after the membership package is delivered, just before an event is announced, and just before the membership renewal—please see our article Congratulations Valued Member…You Owe Us $200).

• To help increase conference and/or professional development registrations, your members can:

Provide Board members and other successful association marketers with contact information for members in their area, who have not attended an event in a few years – or ever.

Use some of the same tactics that are successful for your association in membership drives to encourage non-members to attend an upcoming event at a reduced cost—perhaps, also offering memberships at reduced package prices (i.e. membership + conference registration).

• To increase conference or professional development course registrations, new members can be offered a discount.

First-time attendees and those members who have not attended an event in the past x-years can also be offered special pricing.

“Each One, Reach Many”: 21st Century WOM

Social media is WOM on steroids.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. change an “Each One, Reach One” marketing strategy into “Each One, Reach Many” if you make it easy for your members to market your association.

The following are some no-cost resources that might be helpful in developing/improving your association’s use of social marketing:

• Social Media for Nonprofits “provides social media training to help nonprofits leverage social media…share practical tips and tools for fundraising, marketing, and advocacy”.

• Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s blog Eight Immediate Ways to Improve Your Social Strategy is wonderful resource for developing a social media strategy or reviewing your existing strategy.

• The Rita Allen Foundation offers a toolkit for developing a social media strategy. “In the rush to join the world of social media, many organizations lose sight of their goals. This toolkit will help you make these connections as you define your approach to social media”.

• If your association already has a social media strategy, then Boomerang’s Nonprofit Social Media Template may help you to create posting schedule, formulate a content strategy and set measureable goals.

If your association needs some fundraising ideas, then visit their 40 Fundraising Blogs You Should Be Reading in 2015.

Word of mouth marketing tactics ranging from an old fashioned one-on-one phone call or Facebook friending – powerful tools to help your association fulfill its mission by mobilizing your members.

[1] “The Bible”, Genesis 2: 16-17, where Adam takes a bite of forbidden fruit.