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Dec 5, 2023

How to leverage awards for association members acquisition

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Organizing awards has multiple benefits for associations such as recognition, industry visibility, and membership engagement and retention, to name a few. One of the most notable, however, is expanding the membership base. But how does this happen and how do you leverage your association awards program to drive member acquisition? This article has all the answers you need, so read on. 

How awards help attract new members 

Let’s start with some general information on how you can expand your association’s membership base with the help of an awards program:  

  • Awards create positive buzz — this is one of the main awards program benefits and as such, it extends to associations as well. Attracting positive attention (media and otherwise) could prompt new members to join;   
  • Networking opportunities — organizing awards creates multiple networking opportunities where you can showcase your association to prospective members. The awards ceremony is the one that comes to mind the most, however, awards also give you the chance to organize seminars and webinars, not only for existing and potential members but also for your awards judges and sponsors;  
  • Marketing power — awards have immense marketing power and in the context of associations, your members, program judges, and sponsors are likely to spread the word to potential new members. 

The above is just the tip of the iceberg, as it more or less happens by default when you organize an awards program, even without much extra effort on your part. 

Types of awards programs for associations

To take a more focused approach to attracting new members, you should decide on the type of awards program that would best suit your association. To that end, you have quite a few choices available:  

  • Industry-specific awards — if your association operates in a specific industry, recognizing achievements in said industry is a solid choice. Then, depending on the type of industry, you can include multiple categories, general, niche, or a mix of both;
  • Powerlists — this is a good option for recognizing both individuals or organizations, for example, in terms of industry influence; 
  • Indexes — similarly to powerlists, you can use indexes to celebrate specific achievements, for example, related to worthy causes, best practices, etc., which your association supports and wants to promote; 
  • Social impact programs — this is another option for both doing good and using the resulting positive publicity to attract new members for your association.   

Ways to maximize the impact of your awards program 

Apart from choosing the most fitting type of program, there is a lot more that you can do to maximize the impact of your awards to attract new members to your association: 

  • Member discounts — if you opt to make your awards paid and open beyond your membership base, giving your members a special discount, or including participation in your membership fee could prompt others to consider joining your association;   
  • Jury roles — you can invite people from organizations, as well as individuals you are targeting as members to take a seat on your awards jury. This will give you an excellent opportunity to showcase your association and how things are done. Keep in mind, however, that in this case, you would need to ensure a perfect judging experience so as not to get the opposite effect;   
  • Organize more networking events, workshops, and webinars related to your awards, inviting both members and non-members. Depending on the type of awards, you can do that online, offline, or go for a hybrid format.  
  • Focus your marketing efforts — as noted above, awards are a powerful marketing tool and it is up to you to use it to its full potential, finding the right target audiences and media channels, as well as setting up a compelling online presence for your program;  
  • Give feedback to entrants and winners and promote your awards as a learning and improvement experience, which can also help attract new members who would wish to join this type of nurturing community; 
  • Showcase the winners — giving winners recognition, promoting their achievements, and enabling them to use the awards as marketing (for example, supplying your winners with e-certificates, digital seals, press templates, social media visuals, etc.) is an efficient way to entice potential members for your association who would also be willing to get those perks.     

How using association awards software can help you out 

There is a lot that the right awards management software can do to help you maximize the impact of your association awards:

  • Streamline all your processes — from setting up your awards, through registration, application, evaluation, and announcing results, the right solution will save you time and resources which you can direct to marketing efforts and attracting new members; 
  • Make your awards program look more reputable — usually, awards management platforms feature a submission portal that gives off a more professional vibe (unlike a spreadsheet, for example), essentially acting as a marketing tool;    
  • Enable a user-friendly process for applicants and judges — having a smooth submission and evaluation process is of major importance for both member retention and acquisition, especially if your awards program is open to non-members.    

Read more: How to encourage more applications for your awards program 

Why Evalato is the right choice for managing association awards 

While any solution can help you with the above to some extent, Evalato will give your association awards an extra boost, thanks to the following features: 

  • Embeddable registration form — you can embed the awards program’s registration form directly on your association’s website, boosting conversions; alternatively, Evalato also offers you a dedicated webpage for your program which you can use as an additional marketing tool; 
  • Enhanced category structure — Evalato’s category structure with groups and subgroups allows you to easily accommodate a multitude of categories, should you decide to feature options for both members and non-members; 
  • Secure payments, promo codes, and discounts — Evalato enables you to give exclusive deals to your current or prospective members; 
  • Next-gen applicant portal — your applicants get a dedicated, sleek, and user-friendly space to work on their entries, save them as draft, and submit only when ready;  
  • A portal for judges — your program’s judges evaluate entries with ease on any personal device; you meanwhile can add terms and conditions to sidestep conflict of interest (more common thank you think, especially if your association operates in a niche industry), and you can additionally enable an option for jury feedback; 
  • A dedicated webpage to showcase winners — this will further help you promote your awards to potential members; 
  • Analytics and data export — Evalato supplies you with all the insight you need to improve the next edition of your program and grow. 

At the end of the day 

Evalato can help you make the most out of your awards program and attract new members to your association. If you want to take a look, you can easily explore on your own with a free account, or book a personalized demo

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