Two months ago, I was elected as the president of my Toastmasters club for a second time. The Achievers Marbella Toastmasters Club. Once a thriving club with almost 50 members, we had found ourselves struggling with rebuilding the membership after Covid.
Like many other clubs, it had been a challenge. Many elder members now had different priorities and some had moved away.
We needed a strategy. We needed more members and we needed new blood. While I had started the process of building up membership nearly 12 months ago, Covid was still an issue. Many people were still distancing themselves and some had become simply too comfortable with remote working.
As I took up the role this summer in July, the responsibility fell directly on me. I had to lead and take the first step. As Andrew Bryant, CSP, The Global Executive leadership coach and advisor would tell you, one important aspect of good leadership is getting your team involved, delegating, motivating, and finding the right person to do just the jobs you can’t do. It goes without saying that as a leader you also have to lead by example.
HERE IS HOW WE GREW OUR CLUB FROM A DYING 10 members, to a STRONG 22 MEMBERS club in less than 1 month.
My strategy for membership growth was first to listen and learn from other clubs who have managed to grow their membership, to find out what the new members want, and to ask those existing members each handle one part of the social media marketing and membership growth.
For Facebook marketing Susana Serrano-Davey, for Instagram Percy Roland and networking on the ground Helen Johnson, while I tackled and managed the Meetup group with Joen P. Olsen. Our objectives set: 5 new members before the end of September to achieve the Ralph Smedly Award and 20 fully paid and renewed members by the end of the month to get the Sprinters Award. This is not about creating just one post and sitting back. We had to work actively on each social media post. First, make an interesting post and get it to have views, impressions, and interaction. Next is to actually interact, reply and keep engaged. You need to follow the first post with a second and a third.
In the case of Meetup. I updated the past events, wrote about how much fun it was, and I added photos along with a detailed description of how fun the event was. After all who wants to go to a boring event? Once I get the engagement, then the focus turns to the last few days prior to the meeting date. This is where you have to remind everyone and tell them what it is all about, that they don’t want to miss it out. I added the agenda, and I mentioned the speakers, speech titles, and what they would get out of it if they attended.
Finally, on the day of the meeting, I reminded everyone again. I messaged them all personally, contacted my team and made sure they are ready and are going to deliver their best performance, I let them know that we have guests so that they also get excited about presenting in front of a new audience. Basically, I made sure everyone stands on their toes, members equally need to brush up on their presentation and be at their best.
Now that I had put all this effort in, I needed to make sure to arrive early to greet guests as well as members. It was our first session after the summer and it is important to make everyone feel welcomed back. Along with my core team, we welcomed everyone to the club and made sure they felt comfortable and we told them a bit about what Toastmasters is all about. We got their details, phone number, email and asked where they had heard about us. I prepared myself for the start of the meeting by getting the names of the new and returning members.
As soon as the meeting started, I made sure to introduce everyone and officially welcome them to the club.
Mentioning each person’s name, where they are from, and giving them a round of applause >Believe me: “It is Powerful” in making them feel welcomed.
During the session, I kept in mind our guests and tried to explain why we are doing what we do and how we do it. It is important so that they can understand and assess its usefulness for themselves and apply it to their own needs and self-development.
Finally, at the end of the meeting, I asked them for feedback. “Did they enjoy it? Is it for them? Would they like to come back as guests again?”
Word of advice: Unless you are 100% sure about the guests speaking abilities and experience, don’t push or ask them directly to come up to speak on the first few sessions. Always get members to do roles so that guests can observe how it is done and learn before they have a go at it.
It is not over yet. With many of these people, I had been speaking for weeks or months. The following day our real work had only just begun. This is a bit like Google Advertising. First, you get the impressions, then they click on your ads to arrive on your web page. They fill in the form and show interest. Now it is your turn to convert them to clients.
The day after the meeting, we created posts with pictures on social media. We mentioned names and thanked those who had managed to come. We also showcased what has been missed by those who didn’t come. It is just as powerful to keep the flow going by bringing more people to the next session. However, let’s bring our concentration back to how we converted.
To convert guests to members, I first created a WhatsApp group called TM Followers. I emailed and sent WhatsApps to all the new guests, thanking them for coming and asking to see if they had enjoyed it. And if they enjoyed it, could I add them to our WhatsApp group so that they could receive information about our upcoming meeting? I close the message, with if offering to meet up with them and that if they would like to know more about how to join the club, I can send them more details.
I made no push sales. I provided them with the opportunity and 90% jumped at the opportunity of receiving more information and being on the WhatsApp group.
For those who decided to become a member, it was a process of sending them the membership form. Explaining what they get out of it, how affordable it is, and how we are a self-supporting group that learns from each other and that for the price of less than €10/month they join a university of learning that will become their family.
This is how we converted 10 guests to 8 members in just a few weeks. Oh, but wait. This was not it. This is only the beginning
As soon as we received their membership form and payment, a new process begins.
- First by adding them to our WhatsApp group, welcoming them, and asking all members to equally welcome them.
- Next, I made sure that they are once again mentioned and welcomed at the next meeting, in person.
Only now can I say the journey has just started and our new members are not members until we make them fully part of the family. I yet have to assign them mentors, plan a few educational sessions about Toastmasters, and make sure that become part of the Toastmasters family. Only then and only then can I consider that we have achieved our objective of getting new members.
21 September 2022. We achieved and surpassed the first part of our objectives. We have six new members, three renewing members, and 13 existing fully paid members. The work has only just begun.