Some associations are seeing exceptional member growth while other associations are seeing a decline. Not all associations are struggling to retain their members, but some are.
Well, some associations serve declining industries or professions. Some, but not all. The others are failing to remain relevant. Relevance sounds like such a simple thing, but there are many manifestations.
An association sliding into irrelevancy might be:
- Focusing on outdated delivery methods
- Focusing on the wrong key industry issues
- Focusing on current stale offerings and not on innovations
- Focusing on one segment of membership, but not on younger members
Each one of these behaviors can be deadly, but the last one, focusing more on younger members may have the power to solve all the others. Understanding our youngest members, in the same way, we know our Boomer and Gen X members, is critical to forming great organizational growth strategies, solving many marketing woes, and getting our innovation engine started.
MemberClicks blog author Callie Walker has been banging the drum about changing associations to serve younger members better. She has some great ideas:
- Refrain from clumping all members into one big group, or by grouping them into the wrong pools. Does segmenting by member type tell you all that much? It might not. So instead segment members by a more actionable characteristic like career stage.
- Make sure you understand the needs of young professionals by their career stage. Young professionals might not be interested in industry advocacy right now, but they might be interested in how to start off right in their first months on the job. (By the way, I conduct member research that studies the needs of new and younger members if you want to understand your members’ needs by career stage).
- Consider a young professionals page on your website. Members like being given simple lists of resources that have the answer to the problem they are dealing with right now.
- So much training happens on the job. Help younger members get a head start by boosting the association’s training repertoire especially for this segment. Younger members and hiring managers will thank you!
Let’s find ways to get closer to our younger members so we can bring another generation of brain power into the association.