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A member recruitment and retention plan for a professional association

How we analysed current activity and researched members’ needs to create a plan for the Association of Pharmacy Technicians (APTUK)

As the national voice of pharmacy technicians, leaders at APTUK wanted to understand members’ motivations for joining and staying in the association. This would allow them to: increase their numbers; offer support in their professional roles; and extend their influence in the sector.

Knowing that a number of pharmacy technicians were not members of APTUK and many trainees were not renewing after their free offer finished, leaders wanted answers. They needed help reviewing the effectiveness of existing comms and asking members about their current and future needs.

What was our challenge?

With a limited budget and a largely volunteer comms team, APTUK wanted a manageable, practical approach to reset their member comms.

Working with the President, elected executive members and the operations director, we took a coaching approach. Throughout, we had regular one-to-one meetings to help them identify incremental changes to improve their overall communications.

How did we approach the problem?

We began by segmenting APTUK’s current membership by both career and membership stage. This meant we could develop member journeys which took them from an ask to join to fully active member.  

Listening to members

We asked members via a survey what they valued and wanted from their association – from professional advice to career development to voice in the sector – and how they wanted to be engaged. We included a net promoter score to baseline how likely members were to recommend APTUK to their colleagues.

Understanding what was working

At the same time, we looked at social, digital and website comms to see what was working and what was missing and made some early ‘quick win’ recommendations - particularly around improving their email analytics data to better inform their comms.

Having analysed the survey, we held workshops for elected members to understand each segment’s challenges in greater depth and to schedule a series of moments in the professional calendar or at each career stage when APTUK could promote aspects of their offer to members, using the channels they know members prefer.

What was the outcome?

Armed with excellent insight from analytics, members’ responses and elected members’ views, we drafted a recruitment and retention plan which included:

  • a review of APTUK’s current narrative

  • member journeys where each segment had clear moments to be asked to join, renew and get involved

  • messages around APTUK’s offer for the whole and then segments of membership

  • a sub-branded set of newsletters for each segment

  • a practical toolkit for implementing the plan, for example, creating a content calendar

  • a series of recommendations for next steps including a website and journal review

Working with the elected members and volunteer comms team, we built a common understanding of what should underpin the comms plan. It showed what was a priority for APTUK, and what was most practical to implement.

Practical tools and influential insights

Our toolkit was developed to help them achieve the most effective comms with the least time and money.

At the same time as we ran the survey, the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer was conducting a review of professional leadership bodies within pharmacy, where one option suggested an amalgamation of organisations.

Using survey findings which demonstrated members’ strength of feeling for a single body for pharmacy technicians, we worked closely with APTUK’s President to frame a robust public response.

Thinking big, being brave and staying real

We encouraged APTUK to think big about their asks of members to join, stay and get involved; we helped them be brave about securing their voice in the sector; and we focused our coaching and comms plan on staying real with their resources.

"We really valued the expertise and skills Matt and Vic brought from their work with other membership organisations. They rooted their approach in evidence from our association as well as the wider membership sector, coaching us rather than telling us what to do, and sharing their experience of drafting toolkits, designing newsletters and crafting our response to the sector review. We now have a priority list of activities which we can roll out, test and adapt."
Claire Steele, President APTUK