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Guerrillas Market By Mobilizing New Recruits
By Orvel Ray Wilson   Printer Friendly Version

Many association officers often complain that when there's work to be done, it's always the same people doing it. Activation of new members is one of the most critical elements of guerrilla marketing for associations. In The Greatest Management Principle in the World, Michael LeBeouf says, "Any behavior which is rewarded will be repeated." The guerrilla uses this principle to build membership and participation by lavishing attention upon guests, and particularly new members.

Attention is one of the most powerful of all rewards. We naturally crave acceptance and recognition. Some associations reserve certain privileges for members only, such as making announcements from the floor or distributing literature.

Guerrillas showcase visitors by asking them to stand, introduce themselves, and share some good news about their businesses or families. Guests can be given a red rose, a carnation, or even a gold lettered guest ribbon to wear on their lapel. Every officer should make a point of taking these folks aside and getting acquainted. Visitors often become bored during the business session of a meeting because they may not fully understand the proceedings. Solve this problem by taking guests to a separate room and conducting a brief orientation before the program. Prepare a "Welcome Wagon" envelope containing information and a coupon for free lunch at their first meeting as a member. By showering visitors with attention, you make them feel welcome and wanted.

Once a visitor has paid their dues, they should be assigned immediately to a project or committee. You've heard it before, "what you get out of your membership depends on what you put into it." No one is more passionate and energetic than the new convert. If you invite them to contribute, even if it's only folding newsletters, they'll throw themselves into it full-steam. Their motivations are primarily social at this point, and they'll usually say "yes" to whatever is asked of them. Thank them publicly for their efforts.

Getting newcomers involved also helps build word-of-mouth. People are five times more likely to tell someone about a new product or service within 30 days of buying it. It's how we know we've made the "right" choice. By telling others, we validate the decisions we've made. When we can brag about our new car, boat, or computer, we're less likely to feel buyer's remorse. This means that your new members are going to tell the majority of their friends about the association during the first month after joining.

If all the newcomer has done is sit through a luncheon or a dinner program, they'll have little to share with colleagues. However, if they've been invited to write an article for the newsletter or to work on a fund raiser, they now have something to crow about. The more invested they are, the more they tell others and the more invested they become.

Pick any activity. The more you learn about something, the more interesting it becomes, and the better you are at it, the more fun it is to participate. It's a safe bet that you now have practically no interest in crawling into a cold, dark cave. But when someone shows slides of fantastic formations of flowstone, and tells stories about discovering rooms encrusted with rare crystals, the prospect of joining them on a spelunking expedition becomes much more attractive. By asking new members to contribute, guerrillas use this "get involved" technique to build interest and motivation. This cycle reinforces their interest and their commitment to remain active.

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