Associations are the backbone of every professional community. They provide education, support, networking and most importantly a community for people that share common interests, goals and ideals. But the challenges associations consistently face are growing their membership and engaging existing members (and doing it with budget constraints). An association is only as strong as it’s membership base allows and with revenue generation limited to sponsorships, membership dues, other fundraising sources, training fees and advertising sales, it can be difficult to find the money to put any major project into play.

As of the writing of this article, many associations are finding themselves hard pressed to make sense of technological innovations and how to leverage them to grow their membership. In this article, we lay out several ways associations can use video to grow and maintain membership engagement with a salute to the solo marketing specialist leading those efforts.

Silhouettes of People

The First Steps in Growing Your Membership

These are very basic steps to cover so skip this section if you want to move ahead to some ideas that help associations grow their membership.

First step: think about the members you want to recruit.

We’re going to first talk about recruitment and fortunately for associations, they should have a pretty clear picture of the demographic they want to reach.

The second half of this is to think about current members that are very involved with the association, whether they’re sponsors, volunteers or active in some other fashion (high event attendance, etc.). These are the core members of an association that give it the life it has. While it’s great to have lots of people joining, what’s equally important is people being engaged, so if you can get a picture as to what your core members look like, you can start developing video ideas and message that will speak to that base.

Second step: take stock of your planned major events, volunteer activities and training programs.

These are the most likely opportunities for collecting and creating video content. Large groups of people interacting always make for great footage and it’s a great way to reduce cost in production when capturing interviews or testimonials.

Third step: identify the means of distribution for your video content

Social media and Facebook advertising (Read Duct Tape Marketing’s article if you’re not familiar with Facebook advertising) are the most obvious choices for publishing video content. Another obvious channel is through association newsletters or even asking existing members to share the videos and recruit new members.  If your association is limited to a specific region, sharing your video content with local bloggers in your industry, other newsletter publishers, local publications or media might help generate additional views.  At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, will the member I’m recruiting have a chance of seeing this? Finally, this might be the time to dedicate a page on your website exclusively to video content.

Depending on how “crazy” they want to get with producing video content for growing their membership, associations might want to read our post on successful video marketing and implementing some of those steps prior to actually making any content.

Idea #1 – Make a Simplified Training Series

Many associations offer ongoing training and certifications as part of their mission and in some cases, keeping up with that training is a requirement. In this attention starved era, people can be daunted by the information laden training required to take a certification. 

I propose making a simplified training series that a) introduces basic foundational principles, b) can be taught in 4-8 <3 minute videos and c) is provided at no cost. You might even include an automated quiz in it. There are plenty of examples on the web as to how this can be done. This way a prospective member can get a sense as to whether they want to continue or not and it’s great that they learn either way as early as possible.

Idea #2 – Create Video Stories of Key Events

Creating 2 minute highlight videos of events so that you have something to share throughout the year serve as reminders of why members are a part of the association. Not only can associations have new tools for engaging their existing membership, there’s an archive of activity that prospective members can review to evaluate the association.

Idea #3 – Create a Culture Video

Or call it a recruiting video, whatever you choose. The key to a video like this is to focus on the values and ideals embodied by your association. It’s great to tell people they get a discount with some service, but it’s even better to show people the personal and professional goals being a member of your association will help them achieve. If you’re looking for themes, embrace your associations history. Interviews with key members can be great and remember to focus on sense of community your association provides.

Idea #4 – Record EVERY Presentation and Host it on YouTube

I’m surprised at the number of associations NOT doing this. If you have a guest lecture or member presentation, you could gain a lot of traction over time just from the sheer volume of information you can provide to people unable to attend a presentation but the general public at large. For under $2,000, you can get a decent prosumer camcorder, tripod and wireless microphone. 

Idea #5 – Share Video Content with Every Partner Organization

Having partner’s spread the word is always helpful. If you’re not doing it now, it’s time to start.

There are probably over a million ways associations can use video in growing their membership. Get creative and get attention!