July 14, 2017

Millennials: Why it's NOT what’s in it for THEM

Millennials: Why it's NOT what’s in it for THEM

We all like to think that we are motivated by helping others - think globally, act locally - a phrase that popularized in the ‘70’s. But often times we don’t act unless we feel like there’s something in it for ourselves. Knowing this, associations appeal to members and potential members by focusing on personal benefits. What’s in it for YOU. This type of messaging often does resonate with Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers (of which I am a member). But Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers are not the future of your organization...Millennials are.

Engaging Millennials is THE hot topic across industries and is the focus of many sessions at association conferences or is the sole focus of the entire event. So it got me thinking, how are some of the leading associations messaging their member benefits?

First stop, the American Marketing Association’s Member Benefit section - here. The words you/your appeared 25 times on the Marketer page. As a marketing professional and a Gen X-er, I get excited about “unlimited access to our vast members-only resources, tools and content” and how getting involved in a local chapter can help ME expand MY skills.

But those same benefits may not speak to those looking to serve the greater good. According to a Gallup article, Millennials look for things that “fuel their sense of purpose”, and an Inc. article states that 84% of Millennials think that making a difference in the world is more important than profession or personal recognition. So you would think that the leading Marketing association would message to this group a little differently. However, on the Student page the words you/your appeared 21 times with only one sentence mentioning the ability to participate in community service and fundraising. However, that benefit is put in the context of “leadership skills to highlight on your resume!”

Next stop, the Customer Experience Professionals Association Member Benefits page - here. The words you/your only appear 9 times on the page. And the very first benefit focuses on volunteer organized events followed by the importance of sharing - “CXPA encourages members to share their stories of success and lessons learned.” Even the featured member quote focuses on community - “While I get so much value from the CXPA in so many ways...it’s the involvement in my local CXPA community that has had by far the most significance.”

The words we use matter, and luckily in a digital world they can easily be changed. Take a look at your own Member Benefits page and think about how can you reframe your existing benefits to speak to the greater good. Reduce the number of times the word YOU appears and reinforce the value sharing and community. Look at the emails you are sending to your younger members when inviting them to events or encouraging them to donate and make sure the call to action appeals to a sense of purpose.

It is what’s in it for them but remember the what is different.