The Local Leaders Roundtable met on August 12 for Local Hive: Ideas for Growing Your Membership and the ideas were flying. In fact, as with all the Local Hive events, we start with a topic but are never limited to just that topic. We talk about anything the hive-mind brings forth—one of the many reasons to join AMIBA and participate every second Thursday!

The Hive shared lots of ideas and insights about membership including:

  • Colin Murry, AMIBA Board Member and Director of Dane Buy Local, shared a gift card program he uses to increase membership. When a member brings in another member, they get a $25 Dane Buy Local gift card. This introduces people to the gift card program, benefits other members and is a nice perk.
  • Jennifer Rubenstein, Director of the Louisville IBA, talked about offering lots of freebies for membership including member gift cards, LIBA swag and more.
  • Janeen Murray, Director of Go Local Sonoma County, has a great program where any member can give a gift membership to another business in the month of January. She has another successful and beneficial program where 1/3 of any membership fee can be used to purchase advertising and marketing in any Go Local program. While not every member takes advantage of this, it’s a huge incentive.
  • Kathleen Roark, Director of Local First, led an interesting discussion on trade memberships. There was general consensus that these are wonderful because they both save on expenses and sometimes convert to paid members.
  • Rebecca Melançon, Co-founder of the Local Business Institute, AMIBA Board Member and former Director of AIBA, shared the strategy of offering member-only marketing campaigns but sending the info to a much larger list of nonmembers as well. It was very successful in getting new members because businesses wanted to participate in the campaign.

Generally, membership drives were marginally successful. All activities such as events, advertising campaigns, marketing opportunities, promotions and old-school word of mouth bring in members. One observation expressed was that a bad economy grows membership faster than a good one because businesses are looking for help…or a miracle.

We entered into a lively discussion on advertising your IBA—best practices, ideas, cost, media and more. Some IBAs utilize media for their own programs such as Steve Fletcher, Development Manager of Lowcountry Local First, who hosts a podcast, Small Talks Big Ideas with Steve.

Missed this event? You can see the video on YouTube.

The Local Leaders Roundtable is every second Thursday at 1pm ET. Our August Roundtable is Local Hive: Ideas for Growing Your Membership. Register for this and other AMIBA events here. ( Hope to see you soon!


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