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Generation Y

My, Myself And I

Nearly one in two associations experienced a decline in membership last year, according to the 2010 Member Marketing Benchmark Report. With a struggling economy, too many competing associations, and an almost unlimited amount of free internet resources, it is becoming harder and harder to attract members. Many associations are realizing that to stay open, they must stop bleeding members. But, how?

Personalize your membership organization to attract members

Nearly one in two associations experienced a decline in membership last year, according to the 2010 Member Marketing Benchmark Report. With a struggling economy, too many competing associations, and an almost unlimited amount of free internet resources, it is becoming harder and harder to attract members. Many associations are realizing that to stay open, they must stop bleeding members. But, how?

Membership growth must always begin with careful research and analysis of your organization. Know your strengths, your weaknesses, what benefits you seek to deliver, if there is a disparity between benefits claimed and benefits delivered, and—most importantly—what your members want from your organization.

The trend for today’s younger professionals (Generations X and Y) is to join targeted, niche groups instead of overgrown, impersonal, over-generalized organizations. Don’t forget that we are talking about the “me” generations. Generation Y, after all, is the generation of iTunes, MySpace, and YouTube. It is not by accident that the biggest pop icons of our day reflect personal pronouns.

For this reason, pay attention to the individualized benefits, personalized serviceand unique opportunities offered by your organization. If your organization does this already—kudos! If not, it’s time you jumped on that bandwagon! There is a plethora of associations out there providing stiff competition for you. If people don’t feel they are receiving that personalized attention from your organization, they will simply move elsewhere.

Considering the large number of associations available, if you want yours to be successful you would be wise to find your niche market and stick to it. Don’t try to address everyone, or it will be difficult for members to find the personalized, individualized, unique experience they are looking for.

“If we focus on creating value for our niche and don’t try to be everything to everyone, we create something more meaningful, which increases ROI [Return On Investment] for members,” said Shawna Suckow, founder of Senior Planners Industry Network.

Increased ROI will, of course, mean higher member retention and growth. No matter the economic circumstances, if people find real value in your organization they will be loyal. And in today’s technology age, it is easier than ever for word to spread about outstanding organizations. That is simply good PR and will attract more members to join.

Focusing your efforts has the added benefit of more resources to dedicate to fewer objectives. That means the possibility to do those few things well, instead of many things mediocre. If your organization is hurting for funds, as many currently are, this may help solve your budget difficulties as well. If this concentration also leads to increased membership, your incoming funds will grow as well.

Don’t become just another failed company. Personalize your organization to attract your individual, unique members.

Melissa Hackenmueller
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