Book a Speaker
Grow Membership
Reduce Turnover
XYZ University YouTube Page LogoXYZ University Instagram Page LogoXYZ University LinkedIn Page LogoXYZ University Twitter Page LogoXYZ University Facebook Page LogoXYZ University Vimeo LogoXYZ University RSS Feed Logo

4 Membership Marketing Trends Your Association Can't Afford To Miss

In a time where a new social media platform seems to explode every month, and business professionals spend more time on their smartphones than on their desktop computers, associations need to step up their game if they plan on being top contenders for membership.

In a time where a new social media platform seems to explode every month, and business professionals spend more time on their smartphones than on their desktop computers, associations need to step up their game if they plan on being top contenders for membership.

And because we’re all about multi-tasking and getting to the bottom line, here’s a short, sweet and to-the-point list of four membership marketing trends associations can’t afford to ignore:

1. Video

YouTube is the second highest search engine (under Google) and whether you use that, Vimeo or another online video application, this is a marketing trend that associations should seriously consider. In fact, Cisco Systems estimates that 90% of Web traffic will be driven by video by the end of 2013.

So what are the benefits to video marketing? It’s engaging, it’s trackable and it’s shareable. You’re able to provide information where your members are most likely to view it, where it’s easy to see who’s watching and it’s even easier for them to click “share” and expand your online reach. And, video content represents higher-order objects when indexing web pages so it provides great SEO (search engine optimization) for your organization.

2. Mobile

If you’re as addicted to your smartphone as I am, then you know some type of mobile marketing, whether it’s an app, a text message or a mobile-friendly website, is the best way to get your attention. Your members are looking for the easiest way to engage with and learn about your organization. Provide them with mobile tools to access your association’s information.

Mobile marketing provides you with an opportunity to extend your association’s conversation through traditional channels (such as newsletters or magazines) and with it, provide a way to track your results. Think QR codes or text-to-win type of campaigns. Not sure where to start? Check out these tips from Digital Marketers United.

3. Social media

No more excuses that your members aren’t using social media. They are. It doesn’t matter what demographic they fit into (I guarantee, if my 91-year-old grandmother is on Facebook, which she is, then your members are also there).

However, that doesn’t mean you should jump on every social media channel you can think of.

Choose your platforms wisely. Do your research and put on your ears before deciding where you’ll focus your social media efforts. Establish goals and ways to measure results. And whatever you do, be meaningful and conversational in your posts. Engage in conversations with your members, not at them.

What do you gain with integrating social media into your membership marketing plan? For starters, how about increased exposure and increased traffic to your website, blog or social media channels? According to Social Media Examiner’s 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 85% of those surveyed indicated their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their organization.

4. Content marketing

No matter what tool you choose to use, your association’s content should be relevant, timely and conversational. Gone are the days of push marketing. We are all content providers, no matter the type of organization we belong to, and it is our job to provide the information our members and constituents want.

Think about content marketing as a way to solve your members’ problems. To provide them with the information they’re looking for. To be seen as an expert and a resource in your industry.

What do you think? Is your association providing a variety of ways to communicate your message and engage with membership? Are you convinced that video, mobile, social media and content marketing are membership marketing trends you can’t afford to miss?

You know my take. What’s yours?

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.


Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.


Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.


Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

Take the first step towards your future.

Looking for a game changer at your next event or a strategy unique to your organization?