Tag Archives: youth

Book Review: The New Recruit

The New Recruit: What Your Association Needs to Know About X, Y, & Z
…those being the Millenial generations!

by Sarah Sladek

Boomers want a successful career and to make the world a better place; membership associations help them do both. However, this relevance is lost on younger generations who are already doing these things without a career or experience.

I recently had a conversation with a board member about promoting community arts events and new ideas to tap into a wider audience. He remarked–uncreatively, I though–that ‘under 40s’ weren’t their target market since their families took all of their time and money.

Quick ideas to ponder from the organization Women of Today:
• Totally electronic communications
• ‘Big sister’ mentors
• Leadership, public speaking, and professional development opportunities
• Scholarships
• Partnerships

‘What’s in it for ME?’ younger generations ask. Although organizations have been trying to answer this regarding their target markets for years, Gen X demands answers, and since they can get the benefits that associations traditionally offer in so many alternative ways, if they don’t have a sense of belonging, they’re not going to join.

What young folks, in general, want from an association:
o Must have a sense of belonging–an invite, not a form
o Age-specific networking opportunities, career-building , making a difference,
o although time-sensitive, so employ virtual career and networking opportunities
o One-time projects, make decisions (meetings–ugh!)–episodic volunteers, just like new retirees
o Opportunity to lead a group or oversee a task
o Marketing materials make a strong first impression–straigtforward, online. Appeal to all generations’ needs in your bullet points! Case studies should profile how membership has made a difference in careers.

Membership will take longer, as it’s a trust-building process with younger generations. This process will affect traditional recruiting, and most of all budgeting. Future projections must be taken into account when investing in new ideas to reach new populations, not just the per member cost or annual revenue.

Recruiting Students

o Offer a discount rate
o Target recruiting at colleges, teleconferencing and web availablility, and two tracks of programming
o Consider special fairs targeted just to students, relationships with colleges, discounts, student chapters, mentoring and more.
o Another creative idea is a competition only open to the target generation, one that relates to your mission and gives young professionals a chance to connect with their careers.
o How about a students-only resume posting section on your website? Or a student award?

High emphasis on students creates a sustainability–not a revenue-generation–plan. Prioritizing recruits from college, high school and even younger develops long-term interest and builds that trust necessary for a membership relationship. Students must be involved in the planning and management, though.

Ideas from Others
At Minnesota Entrepreneurs, they aligned their new outreach with their mission, focused on:
Inspiration: high-profile speakers in profession
Education: panels of experts
Networking: events
Some changes to their normal m.o. were that dues ($240) included admission to all events, which were held at a trendy locale with amenities that appeal to younger generations. They featured young members and new events on their website, and swapped discounts with other organization’s young professional members.

The National Association of Women Lawyers has a career-introductory program called Backpack to Briefcase to connect students with professionals, something that could be implemented online, on campus, or via a one-to-one mentoring program. Job shadowing could also be seen favorably. Mentors could bring protégées to events for free.

Boston’s Young Professionals Association boasts 10,000 members from its low cost ($35) membership, weekly networking, and service opportunities. Many of these organizations grow rapidly from their inception, I suspect because the concept is both new and speaks to the younger generation.

A Minnesota Chamber group hosted for-fee Emerging Leaders sessions that were speed-networking, but also added a monthly service project for those Leaders. I like this concept of casual interaction and then a follow-up opportunity. A San Francisco PR association got PR firm members to host monthly programs by their executive leadership, offering tips and connections. Access to these programs is through membership in the Young Professionals program, $50 annually, which includes many regular membership benefits such as training discounts and a one-time discount when transitioning from student to chapter member.

Two things you must have in order to attract young professionals:
o Opportunities that appeal. What about connecting young potentials with opportunities to serve on boards, mentor, volunteer, or serve at peer organizations?? This is not the old way of doing business, e.g. committees-for-life, board and officer positions
o Tech on your website! Interactivity, self-control, membership interaction, online learning, video, blogging & podcasting are all part of Gen Y’s life. If you’re not including these things, you’re not relevant.

Ready to begin recruiting younger members?
Remember, you’re not making money off their membership, it’s their future investment and purchase you’re after. There is a great grid in the book where you list each of your association’s specific programs, services, communications, and opportunities, and compare them to the desires of younger generations:
Does it: Use Tech? Provide Tangible Benefit? Offer Professional Development? Engage in community service? Take < 2 hours/mo.? Cost < $30/ mo.?

Of course, the next step is to expand the areas where you’re not fulfilling those needs, and to budget for associated estimated costs.

Some Other Ideas and Next Steps

Consider a ‘transition’ membership for new professionals to avoid the drop-off of student members who are suddenly faced with the burden of the full rate. You can attach age limits, years in profession, or adjust the rate to more than 50% of the full rate. Also consider appointing a young spokes- or chair-person for this effort. If you’re trying to recruit younger members, it makes sense to have someone of that age inviting people to join in a public way via the media, online communications, at the board, or emceeing events. Recognition is an important benefit, and if you have younger members involved, be sure to recognize them.

Once you’ve secured members, be sure you’re engaging them. You can conduct an organizational overview webinar or conference call, host new member receptions, send emails or handwritten notes with business cards at quarterly intervals, even just give new members a personal welcome call. Continue to recognize repeated memberships–2, 5, and more years, and list these in your publications. If they can’t volunteer, ask for their input to solicitation, speakers, and print materials or invite them to contribute articles or introduce events.

It also seems you need to evaluate if you have any younger or student members to begin with. If you have a student membership that isn’t being utilized, analyze why that is and strengthen this program. If you have younger members who are inactive, how can they be engaged? Ask them. Get creative–plan a trip, a special award for young professionals, or a networking event.

No doubt, it’s a lot of work, and more work than with other generations. If you want younger members to feel they belong and that their contributions are valued, your need to find a way to meet their needs and invite them not only to participate, but to lead. Set you goals for recruiting younger members, and name three action steps.


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Teens & Media

Mobile technologies are a great way to reach teen audiences.
Even if you aren’t pondering a texting campaign, the following provide some pretty good insights to the changing world around us.

See slides of the Nielsen report findings, Kids on the Go: Mobile Usage by U.S. Teens and Tweens is a 2008 report from Nielsen Mobile that finds:
58% of tweens who download or watch TV on their phone do so at home;
64% of tweens who download or play music on their phone do so at home;
56% of tweens who access the Internet on their phone do so at home.

Another excerpt of the report says:
46% of tweens use cell phones.
On average, kids get their own cell phone between the ages of 10 and 11.
55% of tweens who own a cell phone send text messages and 21% download ringtones.

The report itself seems a bit elusive, but Nielsen’s How Teens Use Media (registration required) is from June 2009 and covers a broad spectrum of media, not just cell phones and texting.

Some surprising findings include:
Teens spend less time browsing the internet than adults.
TV watching is NOT being abandoned in favor of new media.
Teens read newspapers and magazines, and are still attracted by ads, and are the largest segment of movie-goers.
The typical U.S. teenager sends and receives nearly 100 text messages a day.
Of course they consume a lot of media–teens are early adopters of all technology, thus the term ‘digital native.’

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LRN about TXT

Interested in learning about texting?

So much to learn! Whew–I just learned a lot, and I’m not sure I can explain very well, but thanks to TechSoup and ReadyTalk’s awesome FREE webinars , I know more and you can, too!

July 16, 2009 TechSoup ReadyTalk Webinar: Using Mobile for Outreach and Education

And guess what?! This webinar was pulled together by a VOLUNTEER at TechSoup–hmmm….what else could be done by harnessing the power of a knowledgeable volunteer?!

Mobile Commons and Boston After School & Beyond presented about text campaigns, background on texting and some tools to consider.

58% of all Americans have sent or received a text message, and 80% of high-school age students have cell phones. (See more in the following post.) Mobile is an instant and immediate method of communication that captures people’s attention, and it spans income levels more so than online communications.

Mobile campaigns typically use ‘short codes’ or thosee 4-6-digit phone numbers that have started appearing in ads. A short code is like a phone number for an organization’s text campaign. Short codes direct users text messages to you. Of course, you can use the ‘old-fashioned’ cell phone number to send and receive texts, too. Here are some ways you can use texting:

Text Alerts: Sends out reminders to your ‘subscribers’
Text to Data: Your basic informational text message, where your message is sent to cell phone numbers.
Text to Voice: This sends action messages to phones, asking people to call electeds. By replying to the text, the caller can hear a recorded message with key points prior to being automatically connected
Text to Screen: Great for live events, for example, a giant screen with the call to action (also posted online) asking respondents to offer their opinions was placed outside the California legislature, where a text ‘conversation’ is displayed on screen.
Also, MMS and Video and Smartphone Applications are expensive, advanced techniques.

Text message recipients can request or send information. This is known as ‘push’ or ‘pull’. For example, in a pull technology example, users can request info by texting a keyword to a specific shortcode. For example, Blue Ocean Institute’s FishPhone ‘safe’ eating campaign:
To find out about your seafood choice, text 30644 with the message FISH and the name of the fish in question. We’ll text you back with our assessment and better alternatives to fish with significant environmental concerns.

Boston Navigator uses a text service so that Boston-area youth can request out-of-school program info by subject area and zip code using their mobile phones. Other cool text project ideas include SMS Poetry Contest and SMS 160-character (or 140 in Twitter) storytelling. When pondering a text campaign, the goal is to build your list–not only of cell phonee numbers, but also emails and users, and to ask for people to opt-in to your messages versus opting-out, as many users and senders can pay up to $0.20 per text message.

Full-on text programs cost $17-20,000 annually!
This does not include marketing of the text campaign (without which shortcodes and messages will be unknown!) Lower-cost services can charge $1700+ for setup with $250+ monthly fees in addition to $0.05 each for in/outbound messages.

One place that campaigns usually start is with leasing a shortcode, which costs $500+ per month. These short codes are typically directed through an aggregator who channels messages. (My glance at an explanation of SMS routing and the accompanying diagrams confirmed that I need to keep reading to have any inkling of what that might mean!) Another option is a management service like Mobile Commons who owns shortcodes and manages the data of subscriptions, sending, collecting emails etc., for you; organizations interface with Mobile Commons rather than directly with the shortcode operator or an aggregator. A lower fee (but higher in-house management required) level is a messaging service, allowing texts to be sent and also managing subscriptions, incoming text, data gathering, etc.

One very low-cost solution: The NYTimes covered the Birds and Bees Hotline text messaging program. Run by a North Carolina non-profit reaching teens with sex education info, they used a single cell phone with unlimited texting capabilities, and staff take turns answering text messages that come in as a result of their marketing campaign.

Another low-cost, or even free, option is to use a marketing service that sends texts for no cost, but attachs an ad. For example,
4Info.com was referenced as a sending out bulk messages for free, but their site refers to publishers and advertisers contacting them for a sales call. This is one I’ll pass on until further demand warrants research. Tatango is another text marketing service that seems more transparent and also has some features for the individual user. FrontlineSMS is an example of free software which will still require leasing a shortcode and evidently quite a bit of technical interface assistance.

MobileActive is the expert in the non-profit mobile campaign arena, so check them out for lots of good info!

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Think Millenials Are Wasting Time Online, eh?

Think of it this way–they’re learning tech literacy, conflict resolution, 21st century communication skills.

Your staff aren’t wasting time online, they’re exposing their friends, and their friends’ friends, to your brand.
Millienials’ work brains operate differently, too. They don’t segment their work or online time from their own time. They’re getting their bills, emails, schedules, diaries, letters, invitations and more ONLINE, so a ‘home computer’ is a necessity for them. Just as mixing in their personal lives happens online at work.

I’m thinking it’s a good thing, if
– nonprofit workers invite their friends to events via Facebook
– they’re blogging about the latest societal issue and linking back to your organization as a solution
– work email and calls get thrown into the after 5PM mix

Want to set some boundaries? That seems fine, but make sure and understand what forces are at work–maybe Millenials have some suggestions about what those should be!


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Books to Read: Mobilizing Generation 2.0

From Rock the Vote’s experience, this primer covers blogs, wikis, texting, video and social networking site basics.

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