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Why Your Association Needs A Mobile Marketing Strategy

If your association is looking for innovative ways to connect with members and engage new audiences, mobile marketing–or mobile in general–needs to be seriously considered. Not only is mobile marketing one of the hottest topics amongst marketing strategists, (some say mobile is going to be bigger than the TV, radio and computer–combined), it is a great way to facilitate engagement and convert more users to membership within your organization.

How many times a day do you use your smartphone? Does it seem like an extension of your own body at times?

I know mine does.

If your association is looking for innovative ways to connect with members and engage new audiences, mobile marketing–or mobile in general–needs to be seriously considered. Not only is mobile marketing one of the hottest topics amongst marketing strategists, (some say mobile is going to be bigger than the TV, radio and computer–combined), it is a great way to facilitate engagement and convert more users to membership within your organization.

We’re an app-centric, real-time society

We all want information now–this includes your members and prospective members. We expect our information in real-time. For better or for worse, that’s what our expectations have become.

  • Think about frequently asked questions from your current members: are there ways you can facilitate those into a mobile app?
  • Could you update the search functionality on your current site so that it’s mobile-friendly?
  • Is there a way to provide text updates during your association’s annual conference or check-in information and maps for those looking for more information?

Your audience wants real-time engagement. This means you no longer determine when and where conversations happen about your association. Associations need to make themselves accessible in as many formats as possible. “Do you have an app/mobile site?” will be a common question from your members.

Start by using the information you know about your current members–their needs, their likes, their frustrations–and develop ways in which you can answer those with mobile marketing.

Effects of mobile marketing

It’s not just large corporations and businesses that stand to benefit from mobile marketing. Mobile marketing can play a critical role in moving your association past the competition, including:

  1. Increasing your current membership base
  2. Increasing membership retention
  3. Establishing your association as innovative
  4. Providing positive customer service experiences
  5. Reaching members faster (90% of smartphone users read texts in matter of seconds)

Mobile takes buy-in from everyone

You may understand the importance of mobile marketing, but there could be a disconnect with senior leaders or your C-suite. Know the facts before going all out with your mobile plan and have the statistics to back up your theories. Think about what the following means for your association:

  • 79% of smartphone users use their phones to shop (and 74% make a purchase as a result)
  • 70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour (Source: Mobile Marketer)
  • 91% of all U.S. citizens have their mobile device within reach 24/7
  • 30% of 55-64 year olds own a smartphone (and their rate of adoption is increasing faster than any other age group); it’s not just for the young crowd

Remember when AOL discs came in everyone’s mailbox during the 90s? According to Nielsen, the iPhone grew 10 times faster than that. Mobile is big. Real big.

Use it to know it

It’s hard to sell yourself, let alone someone else, on a concept if you don’t understand it or have never used it yourself. Confused about QR codes? Go ahead and snap a picture of one to see how it works. Never participated in a text-to-give campaign? Select your favorite cause and see about making a donation that way. Not sure what an app is? Download a few that are association-based (Maryland State Bar Association has one for its 20,000+ attorneys and judges) to see how they work.

My point is: You need to immerse yourself in the technology through which your association will grow. Mobile is one of these ways.

Mobile is here to stay

The bottom line is that mobile isn’t going anywhere. Your association’s members are using mobile every day. In order to sustain, engage and communicate effectively with your members and any potential members that are out there, it’s time to jump on board the mobile marketing train and start visualizing a plan for how you’ll use mobile to communicate.

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.

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