Sure you can buy an ad in the paper or pay for clicks via Google AdWords, but why pay when you dont have to? There are ways to recruit Members for free, or at a very nominal cost.
1. Hand Out Flyers and Hang Flyers (low cost)
If your social group is focused in a specific geographic area, handing out flyers may work for you! Stand at the local bus stop or train station during the morning or night rush, put flyers on cars at a public park, hang flyers in your local library, etc. Figure out where your potential Members may be and get your flyer in front of them. Concerned about cost? No one says your flyer needs to be glossy and printed in vibrant color.
When I first started, my flyers were black and white and were printed on standard white printer paper. Remember, you have to start somewhere! But if you do have a budget and you want some cheap postcards, check out VistaPrint.com. If you want to rent equipment for making your own postcards check out ABComrents.com. They even have a deal where you can get business cards for free (I used this the first 2 years when I had a $0 budget).
Disclaimer: Make sure you abide by all laws when passing out or hangingflyers.
2. Use Social Media (no cost) This is a no brainer! Not only should you have a Facebook Business Page and/or Group Page but you should also take the time to post about your group whenever and wherever you can. Again, figure out where your potential Members are and go there. Looking for moms? Post to the local breastfeeding group. Want to find Young Professionals? Then maybe post on a popular bar page (especially do this once you are hosting an event at that bar).
Beyond Facebook there is Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and so on. I cant tell you how many Members have found me through my postings on LinkedIn. And Facebook? Members join daily based on FB sightings!3. Submit Press Releases (no cost)Often local newspapers will print your press releases at no cost. Use any excuse you have to submit a press release to ALL the local papers (remember to include online papers too).
Topics can include: Group Launch, 100 Members Joined, 500 Members Joined, 1 Year Anniversary, 2 Year Anniversary, New Board of Directors, and of course ALL events can (and should) be submitted via press releases. Consider even submitting press releases (complete with pictures) after an event has occurred.4. See if Living Social or Groupon will run a deal for you (no cost)If you are selling Memberships or tickets to events, Living Social or Groupon may run a deal for you! Keep in mind they will first cut your normal price in half and then they take half of the profit for themselves, however, they will give you incredible exposure!
The first time Groupon ran a deal for me I had more hits on my website in one day than I typically get in a month. So even though I knew very little revenue would come in via a deal, I knewthat the value a new Member brought was worth it. New Members tell their friends about you (often after the deal is over), and they will also most likely spend money in other ways (on future events or theyll want to renew their Membership at regular price the following year).
5. Start a Meetup Group (low cost)If you are not already using Meetup.com as your platform, then start a group. You can make it clear on the Meetup group that your main group is at www.yourgroup.com and that you are also maintaining a Meetup group for your Members who would rather hear about events that way. Meetup is a GREAT way to promote groups, from SEO to new group announcements. Plus, although your potential members may not have heard of your group, they have heard of Meetup. Thus, there is a good chance when they search Meetup for their interests they will find you there and then head over to your main group.