Who are our best association membership prospects?

There are two camps when it comes to identifying the best membership prospects for an association:

– Those who believe that you should determine who you are not appealing to – and then go after them.
– Those who believe that you should determine who fits the profile of your current members – and go after more of the same.
Good arguments can be developed on both sides. Certainly, bringing in fresh blood can add a new, dynamic element to the association. Moreover, it can open new possibilities for the future direction of the association.
On the other hand, getting “more of the same” tends to leverage the existing strengths of the association.
Here is a simple rule of thumb. If you are only scratching the surface of your targeted association membership (e.g. you only have 15% of the possible candidates), you’ll likely find better results by going after more of the same. Conversely, if you are closing in on the upper limit of a target audience, it may be time to consider expanding your association membership prospect base. The rationale is fairly simple: it’s easier to get more of the same. Unless you’ve exhausted most of that audience, you shouldn’t spread the association’s resources too thinly by chasing too many groups.
Where does your association stand with regard to tapping most or all of your current target audience?
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