Marketing for Millennial Association Membership: Form the Perfect Campaign through Social Media

form the perfect campaign through social media when marketing association membership

Member Engagement Strategies for Connecting, Recruiting, and Marketing Association Membership

Before we get into marketing association membership for millennials, it’s important to know who millennials are. Millennials are the people who were born between the years 1977 and 2000. They make up 25% of the U.S. population, and now they’re old enough to become the driving force behind many markets. They’re tech-savvy adults who want to feel a peace of mind about where their hard-earned money is going.

Millennials receive a lot of bad press. They’re called entitled, lazy, and selfish. But oftentimes, so-called “millennials” are mislabeled and miscategorized.

While millennials often receive a bad rap, in reality, millennials are discerning, adaptive, and strive to become successful adults. They are changing, and yet, at their core, want the same things any other generation wants. So how can you market association membership to this fluid demographic while still staying true to the needs and values your association already has?

create the best strategy for marketing association membership to millennials

The key to coming up with a marketing association membership strategy geared towards millennials is to understand who they are and what they want from an association. And most importantly, it is to understand what your association can offer millennials that they can’t get somewhere else.

Think about how to reach this demographic on their own terms. More than any previous generation, millennials are highly in tune with the world of social media.

So here’s the million-dollar question: how can associations utilize social media to recruit this next generation of potential members to join your association?

Understanding Millennials Will Help Market Association Membership

marketing association membership to millennials means staying aware of their need to save money

Millennials Want to Save Money

Millennials make up a huge portion of the working population, yet studies show that they are making 20% less money than their parents did at the same age. Consequently, they also own less property and are much more likely to be renting apartments or homes.

One way to make a millennial an engaged member of your association is to speak to them on terms that are important to them. How can your association help them save or invest money? How can you help them plan for their long term future?

The greatest benefit of using social media as a way to garner the attention of younger members is that it is essentially “free”. While millennials are already paying for internet service and data plans for their mobile devices, it doesn’t necessarily cost them more to see and use Facebook, or YouTube, or access their email.

Marketing association membership using social media as an engagement point for interaction can be key because you’re meeting millennials where they already are.

millennials want to get recommendations when marketing association membership

Millennials Want Recommendations

Very closely associated with the idea of saving money, millennials want to know where their money is being spent. That’s why unboxing videos are so incredibly popular. Millennials are reading reviews, and getting recommendations from friends and family. They’re making less money, so they want to be sure that when they spend it, they’re getting what they want.

When using social media to reach your target audience, instead of using a call to action like “buy now” to link to your blog post or website, invite them to “learn more”. Millennials want to trust that their money is going to something they believe in, and something they actually desire, so make sure to speak to that need when marketing association membership.

when marketing association membership to millennials, consider their desire for incentives

Millennials Like Incentives

Another way to bolster your engagement with would-be millennial members is to incentivize them to recruit more assciation members for you. Give them a chance to win a prize, or just give them a prize, for referrals to new members. Everyone wants to be part of a community, no matter what age.

Motivate them to help create this community and simultaneously give prospective members something to believe in, like the judgment of their peers. A huge amount of millennials (84%!) say that user-generated content, rather than advertising, influences how they spend their money. Use this knowledge to your advantage when marketing association membership!

millennials want to be engaged with, not advertised to when creating a strategy for marketing association membership

Millennials Want to be Engaged With, Not Advertised To

Millennials are a very savvy group. They have a great sense of when they are being marketed to, and they’re not fans of it. They are 247% more likely to be persuaded by blogs or social-networking sites than baby boomers are. This is because they view these online communities as trustworthy. And, in a sense, they are right to believe this. In this day and age, social media is the democratic voice of the people; it’s 2019, which is reason enough for associations to strengthen their social media presence.

What they don’t respond to is traditional advertising in newspapers, commercials, etc. Millennials would much rather recommend their friends to read an informative blog post than show them a newspaper advertisement.

This goes back to their desire to save money. Millennials don’t want to feel like they are being sold something, rather they want to feel like they are becoming part of something. If emails are still a large part of your marketing association membership strategy, tailor it to the millennial mindset.

“Click-bait” subject lines are likely going to get your emails forwarded straight to the spam folder. Send an email that invites both your prospects and your new members to partake. Invite them to share, and become part of the front-running team. Use an email campaign that doesn’t make your members feel like customers, but makes them feel like they’re part of a community that cares about them and their individual beliefs.

An Engagement Plan for the Next Generation

form the perfect plan for marketing association membership through a strong social media presence targeting millennials

Membership Organization for Millennials

We can’t expect to continue with the same marketing association membership strategies forever if we wish to grow our membership base with the coming generations. Millennials want to make money, they want to be engaged, and they want to invest in the things that matter to them. This might sound like every generation, but the ways in which they try to achieve these goals are substantially different than Gen Xer’s or Baby Boomers.

Social media is where the younger generation lives, so use this new medium to speak to your new audience. Millennials are diverse, and fluid. It can be hard to market your association to target them because they are truly such a diverse crowd. But the first trick to catching a fish is knowing where to find it, so get your waders on and hop into the river.

Manage Your Buyer’s Guide for Non-Dues Revenue

generate ideas to gain more non-dues revenue for your association

Non-Dues Revenue-Generating Ideas for Associations

Your association’s buyer’s guide is a great tool for disseminating information and products to your association members. But if you’re using it only to sell your members on retaining their membership, you’re selling yourself short when generating ideas for non-dues revenue.

So how can your association use its buyer’s guide to generate additional revenue for your association? Well, first, we need to talk about what kind of buyer’s guide we have already.

Tailor-Making Your Buyer’s Guide

We all know the old adage, “know your audience”. And it’s an important thing to keep in mind for your association. Especially when we’re thinking about ways to generate additional value that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the core values of your association.

But perhaps you’re not even trying to reach your loyal association members. These are all key ideas to consider when we’re talking about buyer’s guides and their ability to add to your total revenue.

Different Types of Buyer’s Guides

consider first-time buyers when creating buyer's guides

Long-Time-First-Time

The first type of buyer’s guide for your association to consider is one for a first-time buyer. What can you offer a member who has never purchased any of your association’s goods or services?

We want to clearly and concisely lay out the process and benefits of everything that we have to offer our members. What can we tell them without overloading? Think of how you sell at trade shows. What is your elevator pitch?

compare and contrast member benefits when creating buyer's guides

Compare and Contrast

Of course, you have more to offer your members than a single product or service. But we know that perhaps, what’s right for some, isn’t right for all. Here’s your chance to go a little more in depth with what you can offer. What additional member benefits are you able to provide? What are the benefits of one product or service in comparison to another?

This is your opportunity to show that you can understand your members on a personal basis. Show that you understand what makes your base diverse, as well as unified.

Product Add-Ons

show your association members how your products surpass what other associations can offer in their buyer's guides

Here’s another idea that is not unfamiliar: upselling. If you’ve got your members in the door already, you know that you’ve got something they want. Hopefully, it’s also something that no one else can offer them. If you’re offering branded merchandise, it is likely that this is the case.

So what can you do to further separate your association from the herd and become a front runner? You need to show your audience that your products and services are not the end of the road. What can we tack on to further the experience of inclusion and membership?

Post-Purchase Help

make sure members are provided a buyer's guide that works as a manual for the members who have opted in

We want our members to feel that we are with them every step of the way. So our buyer’s guides shouldn’t stop once the check is cleared. For members who have opted in, provide a buyer’s guide that acts as an instructional manual.

Show them how to use your products and services, but don’t let it stop right there. Show your gratitude for your members’ continued patronage (especially outside of simply paying their membership dues). If possible, offer certifications to your members through your buyer’s guides. This will bolster that feeling of inclusion, which is exactly where we’d like to stay.

Formatting Tips for Any Type of Buyer’s Guides

when creating your buyer's guides, make sure they are clear and concise

No matter if we’re writing guides for first-time buyers, or people who have had our products or services for years, you want your guide to be simple. This doesn’t mean simply using monosyllabic phrases, but again being clear and concise.

Avoid long-winded phrases and too much jargon. We want this to be something anyone could use to help them. Even if someone were to pick your buyer’s guide up off the street, they should be able to take a clear understanding from it.

It can also be very helpful to break up your guides into small paragraphs with lots of appropriate headings. Long paragraphs are sure to have your members losing their place. And more importantly, they’re going to lose interest and stop reading.

We live in a fast-paced world, and part of understanding that is having information readily available. Use a content page or bold headers to easily direct your members to the information they need and want see most.

Be Authentic

create authentic buyer's guides for your association members

According to a poll by Association Adviser, more than half of associations believed that sources of non-dues revenue accounted for 25-50% of their gross revenue stream every year. Clearly, there is a lot of money to be made in creating non-dues revenue.

If you’re successfully selling something you and your members believe in, you’ll be able to create an increase in non-dues revenue. Whether you’re using advertising sales, retail sales, merchandise sales, or providing services, make sure it aligns with the values and needs of your members. Think of the reasons why your members invest time and money into your association and follow that line of thought.

Put it Into Practice

find the right venue when putting your buyer's guides into practice

So now that we’ve talked about the different kinds of buyer’s guides, and what makes a good one, so it’s time to think about how you’re putting it into practice. What’s going to be your venue for these buyer’s guides?

If you have a lot of physical interaction with your members, maybe you want to have that physical buyer’s guide. However, increasingly we live in a digital world. If you have a strong social media presence, don’t ignore it!

This can be a great place to reach a really wide audience. Social media has the added benefit of allowing your members to easily help you share your goods and information with friends and colleagues who might be equally interested.

generating non-dues revenue has a lot to do with the buyer's guide

Generating Non-Dues Revenue

No matter how you plan to generate revenue outside of membership dues, always stay true to your association. There’s nothing that can turn an audience quicker than feeling like they’ve been lied to. So don’t lie to yourself either. There is easy money out there to be made, but you don’t have to do it at the expense of your association’s integrity, or your members’.

Advertising as a Source of External Non-Dues Revenue

for associations, creating a passionate advertising campaign as a source of external non-dues revenue is at the top of your list

Is An Ad Campaign the Way to Increase your Total Revenue?

Advertising as a source of external non-dues revenue can be a touchy subject for some associations. Revenue generators outside of dues revenue streams can seem like you are “selling out” your audience just to make some extra money. But dues usually only account for less than 40% of an association’s total income.

To make up the other 60%, your association is going to have to get creative. There are many routes and sources of external non-dues revenues. Consider this your call to action to thinking about advertising as one of those revenue ideas.

get creative when thinking about advertising as a source of external non-dues revenue

Advertising is Not a Dirty Word

First, we need to get beyond the idea that we don’t want to use advertising as a source of external non-dues revenue for your association. You have built a relationship with your members, and you don’t want to cheapen that relationship. But at the end of the day, we have to admit… money doesn’t grow on trees.

Like we stated before, we’re looking for 60% of our yearly external revenues to be non-dues based. So how can we think outside the box to meet that additional revenue target without sacrificing our integrity?

Advertising doesn’t have to be a dirty word if we can use it effectively. But how can we use advertising to our advantage while remaining loyal to our members and their wants and needs without losing our rectitude?

write what you know  and apply it to your advertising methods

Write What You Know

This turn of phrase doesn’t have to belong solely to the young creative writers of this world. This can also apply to our advertising methods. We need to keep in mind who our members are and what they want from our services. What is going to turn off your members is seeing an advertisement that doesn’t at all pertain to their interests or desires.

If you’re an association advocating for animal rights, you don’t want to display ads for a meat market. Like everything else in business, advertising is about knowing your customer.

discover what's best for your association: in-house vs outsourced advertising as a means of external non-dues revenue

In-House vs. Outsourced Advertising

This is the only real debate you need to have in your deliberations on advertising: who is going to do it? There is an endless supply of advertising agencies who have the preexisting knowledge and tools to help your association advertise as a source for non-dues revenue well and effectively.

But there is something to be said for using the people who are already under your roof to accomplish the task of creating external non-dues revenue sources. So, let’s explore some of the pros and cons of each, and what is going to be the biggest benefit to your members as well as your association.

In-House Advertising

One of the greatest advantages of using an in-house team to drive your advertising campaign is just what we spoke to previously. Your in-house team already knows your member base. You have a department that creates newsletters and uses your website and social media avenues to speak directly to your members and what they want. This research and knowledge are going to be invaluable to the process of advertising.

We already spoke to the point that we don’t want to blatantly advertise something that our members are not interested in, or worse, something they oppose. Instead, we can use the research that we already have on our members to give them something that they want. Or better yet, we can give them the idea of something that they didn’t know they wanted.

What creative connections can we make between the interests and needs of our members and the services and products in the world?

However, something that we want to keep in mind is the cost of this advertising. Do you already have an onboard team that could handle your advertising? According to payscale.com, “An experienced Advertising Sales Representative which includes employees with 10 to 20 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $46,000”.

This is the biggest deterrent for using in-house advertising for your association. If you don’t already have the time for it, hiring the right people could cost you substantially more than what you stand to make back on advertising.

So what’s the alternative? Outsourcing our advertising campaign.

Outsourced Advertising

The primary reason to outsource your advertising and pay additional fees for additional income is that they have the experience and the tools. Advertising agencies have representatives that know the game, and while they may not know your company, it’s their business to find out more about it. It can be a harrowing experience trying to navigate the world of advertising and doing it effectively.

Advertising agencies have the tools and experience to make sure your advertisements are going to be meaningful as well as effective. Another thing to consider is that these agencies already have so many pre-existing relationships with companies who are looking to advertise.

While our in-house team might have to start from scratch, an outsourced team only needs to match the knowledge they have with the information you give them about your association.

outsourcing your advertising to an agency can sometimes be the right option for your association

Hiring an agency isn’t going to be free, but it could very well cost you less money than if you were hiring your own team and starting from the beginning.

There are two main reasons why you wouldn’t want to hire an agency to handle your advertising. The first is the knowledge of your association. You might have an extremely complex or niche member basis that would be difficult for an advertising agency to comprehend and market to effectively.

The other reason is that it might cost more to hire the company than you could make on your end. It’s extremely important to intimately know what your budget and threshold for this process are, and perhaps more pertinently, what you would stand to earn back from it.

If you see that what you stand to earn in comparison to what you stand to spend is too risky an investment, it might be best to just delineate some of your current staff members to this external non-dues revenue project campaign.

make an association benefit a member benefit when finding means of creating external non-dues revenue

Making an Association Benefit a Member Benefit

Ultimately, our goal in advertising as a source of external non-dues revenue should be symbiotic. We want to earn additional revenues outside of membership dues, but we also want to stay on-brand in our ideas and values. Advertising can be a way to strengthen your financial status.

But perhaps additionally, advertising can be another way that your association interacts and maintains its relationship with your members. For more means of increasing your external non-dues revenue, check out this other blog!