“If your association’s publication looks professional, people will want to affiliate with you and you’ll attract and retain more members!” – Generic magazine consultant
Make no mistake about it, the more professional you look, the more people will give you a second look. But successful trade associations know that a cosmetic makeover is not the key to recruiting and retaining members with a newsletter or magazine.
Many association publications are strong membership recruitment and retention tools even thought they aren’t slick or look like Madison Avenue periodicals. There’s much more to strategically using your publication to recruit and retain members than a good design.
It’s About Content, Delivery, Brand Management, Engagement and Value
If your asociation didn’t exist, would professionals pay to subscribe to your newsletter or magazines?
If your publication isn’t something your members would pay to receive, you’re missing important opportunities to increase membership recruitment and retention.
APE can help you create an editorial flow that changes the emphasis of your publication from talking about yourself to providing a valuable benefit for professionals in a specific industry or profession. You’ll learn how to segment your editorial and find valuable content that’s often free of charge.
An APE evaluation of your publication will help you take a look at your newsletter or magazine as a standalone product and apply basic marketing principles to it. You’ll then determine how you can integrate these opportunities into your mission statement to create a publication that serves all of your goals – including membership recruitment and retention – in the most effective manner possible.
Print or Digital?
Other than your website, your publication is the main way you get and stay in front of your members. If you’ve gone electronic, you might have saved a bundle on printing and mailing costs, but you might have also damaged your ability to recruit and retain members. Many member associations learned the hard way that people don’t want yet another email or electronic document they have to read on their tablets and smartphones. Advertisers aren’t interested in electronic documents that often don’t make it past spam filters.
The Bottom Line
A trade association’s newsletter or magazine should be one of its most valuable (top five) member benefits. If your annual member survey doesn’t confirm this, you need to re-examine your publishing efforts. If your publication doesn’t help you recruit new members and get them to send in their renewal checks each year, take a look at the total cost of producing your communications vehicle. Are you getting the value you expect from your newsletter or publication if it doesn’t directly generate new members and help retain your existing ones?