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#MemberMonday: Reconsider Your Word-of-Mouth Membership Marketing

By Brandi McGrath Kong, Director of Member Services & Conferences


Word-of-mouth marketing has long been one of the most reliable forms of successful membership marketing. When we belong to an organization that we enjoy and are passionate about, we are more likely to talk about it with others. We are also more likely to invite others to come to our meetings and encourage them to also join. Similarly, people tend to imitate those that we admire, trust or find to be like us. 

Many of our most successful clubs were built on and continue to grow today through the power of word of mouth. Here are a few ways that nonprofit membership experts capitalize on this typically low-cost marketing style:

  • Consider starting a referral program. Equip your members with printed materials and talking points to help them promote the club and then provide incentives for bringing in new members. Rewards can include free meals at club meetings, gift cards donated by local businesses, awards, prize drawings, etc. The most successful referral programs tend to focus on the impact of being a member rather than the features they get for signing up. 
  • Share your members’ stories and testimonials. Start a regular feature on your social or website that shows why your members love being part of your club and what intrinsic benefits they have received from their membership. 
  • Make the request. This is the easiest thing to do and yet somehow something that we often overlook. Ask your members to ask other people to join. It can be an invitation to your next meeting, asking them to volunteer at your next service project, inviting them to attend a fundraiser or giving them a free ticket to your next event. It doesn’t really matter how you get them in the door; if you can get them there in the first place, they are more likely to see the great work your club does and the fun that you have as a membership. 
  • Utilize your members’ photos. The more personal your social and online presence, the better off your club will be. This is especially true in local clubs! We want to remind people that our club is filled with area residents just like them, striving to support and serve the community that we all share. 

Before I end this piece, I’d be remiss if I did not acknowledge that none of this information is new. It’s something that you’ve likely known for years, but how well does your club actually follow these tips? Take this reminder as an opportunity to reexamine how your club looks at word-of-mouth marketing and have a conversation with your fellow members on how you can spread the word Sertoma!