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7 of Our Favorite Chamber of Commerce Membership Drive Ideas

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Jules

If you are trying to drum up membership in your local chamber of commerce, it may seem like an uphill battle with no end in sight. You need to convince businesses that your association has something to offer them, but how can you do that? 

Do not let the daunting nature of membership drives discourage you! Along with a dynamic chamber of commerce membership management software, these creative campaign ideas can help you attract new members and manage current ones to keep your chamber going strong.

Let’s go!

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What Is a Membership Drive?

A membership drive, also known as a membership campaign, is an event or activity that an organization plans and/or hosts to boost membership.

A membership drive showcases the benefits of membership while potentially offering discounts, prizes, and gifts that may make the difference between partially interested prospects and full-blown members.

chamber-of-commerce-membership-drive-ideas-what-isSadie is ready to learn more about creating awesome membership drives!

Membership drives can take many forms, including webinars, silent auctions, and more. Continue reading as we tackle seven membership drive ideas that can put your chamber of commerce in the spotlight.

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What To Consider Before Launching Your Membership Drive

Marketing is at the cornerstone of any successful membership drive. Because you are seeking to not only put your chamber of commerce on the radar of relevant parties, but to persuade them to join, your team must properly showcase what it has to offer the businesses you serve. 

You can ensure that you properly articulate your chamber’s goals by asking yourself some probing questions. Below, we list some of these questions, breaking them down by topic.

Recruitment Objectives

  • What are you trying to accomplish with this membership drive? 

  • How will this drive help you fulfill this goal? 

  • What are your goals for this month, this quarter, this year, and beyond? 

  • How do you want to see your organization grow? 

  • What does a successful chamber of commerce look like to you?

Target Audience

  • What potential members is your association currently missing?

  • What do these new target members bring to your membership base? 

  • How can you make their businesses more successful?

  • What type of event is going to speak to them the most?

Capabilities

  • Do you have a small or large group of people who can help carry out this membership drive?

  • Do you have a small or large budget for this drive?

  • How large of an event can you host given the size and budget of your organization?

Frequency

  • How often can you host a membership drive given your budget?

  • How often would you want to host a drive if budget was not a concern?

  • Is the membership drive going to be the same type of event each time?

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to membership drives. That being said, there are some strategies and tactics that prove to be successful again and again.

Pro Tip: Update your online resources before you host any sort of event. Your chamber of commerce website is likely the first place someone is going to visit after the event. So, make it helpful with important information on your benefits, services, activities, and more.

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7 Membership Drive Ideas for Your Chamber of Commerce

Our purpose with this next section is not to help you plan a membership drive from start to finish. Instead, we want to give you some ideas to use as a jumping-off point. This list includes ideas on what type of event to host as well as ideas on what to plan the event around.

chamber-of-commerce-membership-drive-ideas-ideasEmily is ready to take some notes on these membership drive ideas!

Idea #1: Offer Networking Opportunities

Networking events create a win-win scenario. They offer potential members the opportunity to network with other companies in the community — the ones in your chamber — while giving you the platform to talk about what you do.

Your free networking event could take one of these forms:

  • Luncheon

  • Convention

  • Cocktail reception

  • Community service project

Whatever type of event you host, you may choose to attach a theme to it that fits your branding. For example, if your association connects clothing manufacturers, you may host a cocktail reception with a "Style Through the Decades" theme.

Idea #2: Host Public Chamber Meetings

You can also host a meeting that is open to the public. That way, businesses that are interested in becoming a part of your chamber can learn about its inner workings before they sign up. To make the event more informal and less stressful, provide snacks or a meal. Also give the attendees time before and after the meeting to mingle with your members, speakers, and employees — the best press comes from word of mouth.

Pro Tip: Bring your chamber membership application to the event. With that form available, anyone who is immediately persuaded to join your organization can sign up to do so! 

Idea #3: Promote Your Members’ Businesses

Find out what your current members are up to. If you learn about something particularly interesting, helpful for the community, or relevant to your association, you can make that the highlight of your next event. Even better is if several members are working on similar initiatives that you can underline.

Another win-win scenario, current members can drum up new business and prospective members can see how much you help your membership base.

Idea #4: Entice With Limited-Time Offers

Everyone loves free — or discounted — stuff! Make prospects feel a sense of urgency about signing up by offering limited-time deals, such as:

  • A free dessert or drink if they sign up at the event

  • A 50% discount on a second year of membership if they sign up for one year at the event

  • A free lunch with a local politician at a later date if they sign up at the event

Idea #5: Offer a Trial Membership

Giving potential members a taste of membership can pique their interest without making them feel pressured to commit. It gives them a chance to explore everything your organization has to offer for a set period of time.

If possible, give these potential members a guidebook of sorts. Without your help, they may miss out on something that would incline them to stick around. 

Pro Tip: Make sure that your free trial is long enough for people to fully delve into the perks of being a member. A three-month period is standard.

Idea #6: Implement a Referral Program

Host an event where each current member brings a prospective member. Of course, you cannot force your members to bring referrals if they do not want to. However, you can entice them by offering incentives, such as: 

  • Reduced membership fees

  • Free membership tier upgrades

  • Social media shoutouts

  • Gift cards to local businesses

  • Free merchandise

As always, consider what gifts make sense for your base. You cannot persuade members to bring their friends if they do not want what you are offering. 

chamber-of-commerce-membership-drive-ideas-ideasNancy is feeling strong about her next membership drive!

Idea #7: Participate in Community Events

If your area holds a corn maze, a Christmas fair, a music festival, or another event that relates to your target audience, pay for a booth at it! This is far cheaper than hosting an event of your own. Plus, you do not have to do any promoting or advertising to make sure that people come. As long as you have a brochure to hand out, you can reach every person who walks by. If you want to get them to talk to you for a few minutes, you can offer free accessories, such as:

  • Pens

  • Shirts

  • Buttons

  • Water bottles

  • Keychains

Pro Tip: If you have a particular business (or businesses) that you are trying to recruit, send them an invitation to your next membership drive. This ensures that they know about your event and your interest in them.

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Final Thoughts

If you are looking to boost your chamber of commerce membership numbers, there are plenty of ways to go about it. You can rent a booth at a local festival, host a networking event, or plan anything in between.

When it comes to a membership drive, you are only limited to your creativity. As long as the event fits your branding, and you market it well, and you cannot go wrong!

Enjoyed the article? Download it to keep or share with others!

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FAQ

💡What is a membership drive?

A membership drive is an event or activity that a chamber of commerce or another organization hosts in the hopes of boosting membership. Find out more. 

🔑 What should a chamber of commerce consider before it launches a membership drive?

Your chamber of commerce should consider its recruitment objectives and target audience, among other factors. Find out more. 

📝 What are the best membership drive ideas for a chamber of commerce?

The ideas are endless for chamber of commerce membership drives. However, a couple that we recommend are hosting a networking event and participating in a community event. Find out more.



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Jules
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