So, what are the REAL characteristics of each
generation, and do associations need to define
generation-specific attributes in order to reach
their members? We spoke with three leaders in
the association industry to find out.
To Segment or Not to Segment
According to Tony Rossell, Senior Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated, baby
boomers were historically connected with their
associations through three main areas—products
(books), volunteer opportunities and insurance.
These three priorities are now at the bottom of
the list, according to the 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report. “If associations are
still focused on these priorities, then they may be
really struggling with membership,” said Rossell.
This is especially important as many associations do not track members’ ages.
“We often don’t have birthdates, so don’t
know the ages of our members,” said Stephen
Fox, Vice President of Membership and Constit-
uent Relations, American Nurses Association
(ANA). “We pay more attention to tenure and
membership in their profession and then make
assumptions about age.”
ANA is taking a different approach when
reaching their membership. “We are not ap-
proaching this generationally,” said Carol Cohen,
Director of Membership Development, American
Nurses Association. “We have really done a lot
to target new RNs in new member acquisition
and how we serve people with products and
services—new RNs aren’t always young because
nursing is often a second career,” said Cohen.
Through surveys and focus groups, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is
keeping a pulse on their diverse membership of
more than 89,000 professionals. While all AVMA
members are veterinarians, they practice in varied disciplines such as companion animal medicine, food animal medicine, industry, academia,
laboratory animal medicine and aquatic medicine. The AVMA understands that each of these
membership segments face different professional
demands and therefore have distinct needs and
expectations from their professional association.
In addition to targeting members through their
specific professional discipline, the AVMA is now
segmenting members by behaviors and values.
“Our members’ needs are constantly evolving
and our profession continues to face new challenges and opportunities. That’s why we are committed to listening intently to our members and
understanding their challenges so that we can
continue to build on the AVMA’s core strengths,
become even more responsive to the needs of our
members, and advocate with a strong, clear voice
on behalf of our entire profession,” said Janet
D. Donlin, DVM, CAE, Chief Executive Officer,
American Veterinary Medical Association.
Similar to ANA, the AVMA recognizes age
is not always the most relevant factor. Younger
members may be more inclined to engage with
them through digital communications, but that
goes beyond Millennials. The AVMA professionals
onfused by the headlines about our newest generation of members? If
you are an association executive what are you to believe? Millennials
have been characterized by Time Magazine as “lazy, entitled, selfish
and shallow” (May 2013). Others describe them as technologically savvy, civic ori-
ented, entrepreneurial and compassionate (Lucky Attitude Marketing Consultancy).
Compare this to the characterizations of baby boomers: ‘hard working, self-assured,
competitive and team oriented’ (eLearning Industry’s Network).