How Associations Should Strive to Build a Millennial Base in 2019



by Amy Gitchell

Just like other more traditional businesses, associations’ primaryjob is providing their members with services or benefits that fulfill a shared goal. While many associations currently have a robust Generation X membership base, their continued success is doomed if they fail to recognize the importance of recruiting millennials.

So, how can associations find their right niche with a millennial audience?

Millennials have changed the workplace, technology, shopping patterns, and certainly businesses. Their growing influence highlights the pressing need for associations to update and adjust their business models to fit this unique, young and tech-savvy customer.

Somi Arian of Smart Cookie Media wrote a LinkedIn article on the 10 factors that make millennials different. In it, she highlights  ‘the why’ noting that that, “millennials want to know why they should give any brand or person attention.” Associations must strive to understand that they must be able to convince millennials of why they should want to invest their time, energy, and money into being involved in the organization.

Another factor Arian highlights is the massive abundance of choice millennials have when it comes to where to spend their purchasing power and time. Buying options are everywhere and not limited by what’s in store when the internet is at everyone’s fingertips. This means associations need to be able to show
their worth in multiple ways. One easy to implement facet of this strategy is supplying great content to millennial members through the association’s website, social media, and email marketing.

Associations should be consistently sharing their take on general industry news on their website and social media. Additionally, there are always fun and timely post ideas that can be scheduled around holidays big and small (National Pizza Day, anyone?).

Associations should save stronger content for members-only email updates. This ‘insider information’ is just another great perk that association members receive by being a part of your organization, and millennials tend to have a strong appreciation for the ‘exclusive’ material.

Arian also notes that millennials’ peers hold a lot more influence over them than the opinions of their seniors. Millennials would perhaps be more likely to join an association that their friends and colleagues are interested in, as opposed to ones their bosses or parents might suggest. Associations can use this to their advantage by offering incentives for current members to bring in new recruits—think gift cards, automatic entry to win a raffle prizes, etc.

By sharing content with millennial members in more tech-savvy ways, associations can reach this network of people in their preferred mode of communication—through their smartphone. Email marketing and social media are what most entice a vast majority of millennials and how they feel connected to the groups they join. Using a few key strategic pivots to reach this younger demographic on their preferred playing field can make a big difference when it’s time for new member drives/retention.

Amy Gitchell is a marketing and research specialist at Growth-Zone AMS with a focus on association industry research and growth. She is passionate about marketing communications andhas extensive experience in digital media strategy.


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