17 Ways to Grow Your Agricultural Association Membership Numbers

November 2, 2022


As an agricultural association, you’re no stranger to growth. However, your association’s membership numbers may need some tending. 

Every association reaches a natural plateau. You’ve expanded past natural growth and now you may need a little help - nothing wrong with that. 

Whether you’re starting from the ground up (Welcome!) or you’re trying to reach beyond the stable group of members you’ve got, we can help!

Check out these ways to invigorate your membership base and really click with potential new members. 

P.S. If you like these, there’s more where that came from in the Agricultural Association Playbook! 

1. Use What You’ve Got 

Your existing members are valuable resources when it comes to growing your membership base. They’re proof that there are membership benefits that keep them coming back. 

Talk to them, consult them. It could be a survey or an informal Q&A, but find out what they like about your agricultural association and find ways to play that up to attract new members. 

2. Gamify Recruitment

A little healthy competition never hurt anyone. In fact, it does a lot to incentivize your current members! Clue them in on your association’s need for some fresh faces and get them invested. 

Whoever brings in the most people to the new membership mixer, signs up the most people for the email newsletter, or gets the most new Facebook members to your association. 

The reward doesn’t have to be exorbitant (it can be a discount on dues or some free merch!), just enough to get them involved. 

3. Digital Outreach

Your agricultural association’s info should be accessible and easy to share digitally. Create email campaigns that link to your agricultural association’s website, newsletter, or social media page that’s easy to pass around. 

Consider it like a digital flier - only your members won’t have to stand around waiting to hand them out. 

4. Create a Bite-Sized Video 

Sometimes it’s easier to show than to tell - create a video that highlights member benefits, members having fun, and all the ways your association helps agricultural endeavors and its members. 

Social media is a buzzword for a reason. Using this video and your current members, you can post this video anywhere and everywhere. Getting the word out has never been so easy. 

5. Don’t Forget About Your Members Now

Retention is a HUGE part of your membership. You’re not growing if your membership is a revolving door, so remember those who’ve been with you this far. 

Show your gratitude for your current members: shout them out on social or at your next event, give them anniversary benefits or swag, and check in on them regularly. 

Happy members are more effective recruiters and way more likely to stick around when renewal time comes. Plus, if they’ve been with you this long, they deserve reminding that they make up a crucial part of your agricultural association. 

6. Simplify Your “Join Us” to “I’d Like to Know More” 

An association’s “JOIN US” button can be a little aggressive for potential members, especially if it focuses less on the membership benefits and leads to a generic membership form. 

Instead, consider adding an “I’d like to know more” to your membership benefits page. This will allow an opportunity for you to sell your new members more directly and personally. 

Through this line of communication, you can find out more of what this potential new member and members like them want from an association like yours. You get to pitch your association and pick their brain simultaneously. 

7. Members Only Access

Ever wonder what’s behind a door you can’t go through? That’s what Member Only access is like for someone browsing your website. 

It can be an update on member events, a member chat room, or a member-contributed blog. 

Creating a sense of mystique for your members creates intrigue for potential new members and whatever this section ends up being can increase engagement for your current members. 

8. Zero In On Your Target Audience

Find out who is most likely going to become a member. Marketing strategies are more effective the more specific they are. Make sure your website is accessible to whatever online needs they’re searching for. Use analytics like Google Analytics or comparable tools to increase your SEO and make sure you’re visible to your new members. 

Once you eliminate the not-likelys and the outliers, you can focus on your target audience. Find out what you can give them that no other association can. 

Then you communicate it directly to them. You can reach out to them at events they’ll most likely attend (conferences or learning events) or through online groups (LinkedIn or Facebook groups) so you already have a common interest to use to build a connection. 

9. Make A #Worthy Event

Whether it’s your next meeting or your annual fundraiser, create and use an easy hashtag for your members and guests to share on social media. 

It could be under a silly picture or an educational video, but the same hashtag symbolizes that lots of people are enjoying and participating in your event. 

10. Host a Booth

Ask committed and knowledgeable members to speak up on behalf of the association at a sponsored booth. Participate in a university job fair, a conference for farm bureaus, or even a local event. 

Even a minimal booth with one dedicated member and a handful of promotional pens can do wonders if you want to grow your membership. 

Remember what we said about a target audience, though. Make sure what event you’re participating in has the potential to recruit new members. 

11. Remove Barriers of Entry

People don’t like forms, lots of people don’t have checkbooks, and when was the last time you checked your PO Box? 

Lots of little things can stop people from signing up or renewing their membership. Make it as easy on them as possible. 

Generate a digital new membership form, use online payment portals, and remove every excuse people invent for not joining your organization!

12. Participate in Conferences

Agriculture has so many industries it touches. Distribution, agricultural equipment, and agricultural technology all represent overlapping interests that new members have with your association!

Consider becoming a sponsor for one of these events, or hosting one yourself. It will allow you an opportunity to put your association’s name in lots of places interested people will likely see it. 

The membership market is rife with people looking to find their home. Give them plenty of opportunities to get to know your association, your people, and your benefits. They’ll be clamoring for more! 

13. Get Data On What Works

Membership organizations, many like yours, are struggling with getting the word out. Often, it’s because they’re spreading themselves too thin on recruitment efforts. 

For instance, your association could be focusing on outdated promotional methods. Ask new and recent members how they heard about you. 

You’ll probably notice some are more effective at generating new members than others. Take that insight and use it to reallocate your resources to favor  high-performing recruitment methods. 

14. Clarify Matters

Your website and everything that leads potential members to it should have concise and clear information. 

Simplify the layout on the benefits page so no one is doing any guess work. Don’t be confusing about your association’s purpose - have a clear mission statement with information and statistics that back up what your association does to further that mission for its members. 

Having a strong but simple take-away makes you more memorable and will really make you stand out. 

15. What Sets You Apart

Especially if you’re competing at a conference or gathering with similar organizations, focus on what separates you from the competition. 

Maybe you offer the first year’s membership free? Maybe you boast a corporate relationship your competitors don’t? Maybe membership gets them a discount on agricultural accounting software.

Instead of focusing on membership benefits that are offered by other associations, set your association apart from the rest and promote that difference. 

16. Diversify Membership Benefits

Perhaps you’ve offered the same member benefits for a few years. Maybe that’s not attracting a lot of new members because they have different needs. 

Relationships between corporations and associations flourish due to the exchange of benefits. Often, this comes in the form of discounts

By offering discounts on goods or services, they get access to customers they might not have had otherwise. Plus, your membership starts to look a lot more appealing when it can save your member money on life insurance, equipment, and even cars! 

17. Increase Networking Opportunities

What people appreciate about your association the most is the chance to meet like-minded people and increase their own opportunities. 

They like talking about the best and latest innovations in equipment, software, and technology. Association meetings, functions, and mixers give them that when otherwise they wouldn’t get it. 

So present them with forums to network. Whether that’s strengthening your online chat functions, increasing your presence at conferences, or having more meet-and-greets for members. 

When you remind your members of this advantage, they’re more likely to gush to others about the association that gets them so much!

They want to know each other. It’s why they signed up. So open up the lines of communication between members and your association will thrive when people are excited about it!

Give The People What They Want

Your members and potential members know they need an agricultural association membership. Whether they want to be a part of something bigger to increase their own impact or just looking for networking opportunities, they need you. 

They’re shopping around and the only reason they haven’t chosen your association is probably because they haven’t seen it yet. 

Outreach and making yourself known is a crucial part of recruitment. Whether it’s from your current members or external sources, getting the word out is your best avenue for growth. 

Your best shot to get your numbers up is to shout loud and proud about what your association does for each and every one of its members!

If you’re excited to learn more about all the ways you can grow, download a copy of the Agricultural Association Handbook today!


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