The demographics for the many of the associations that I represent, or whose meetings I attend, look the same. Mostly older professionals, with years of experience, who have extended knowledge to drive the industry with their expertise. However, this poses a problem for the future – both in membership and events.
When a member company’s main point of contact retires, it causes a chain of negative reactions within the association:
- There is no one from the member company to attend the conferences.
- There is no one to receive the updates or provide their company’s vote in the association’s advocacy. This also means there is no one to sign the check.
- Your membership team has to start all over when it comes to selling the association to a new group of stakeholders.
My advice for 2020 is to develop a program that incorporates more member company employees, particularly those of the younger generation. I’ve listed a few recommendations of how to achieve this below. Anyone of these would be a great start to develop a deep pipeline of new member constituents:
- Encourage member companies to sign up for more committees and councils. If the company’s representative availability is full, hopefully, they’ll send an additional representative. Remind them, that in most cases, there are no additional costs so they might as well take advantage of multiple groups.
- Develop programs that target the young professionals. One group I work with has a symposium specifically for young professionals. Develop content that is specific to that generation. Even a few sessions that focus on professional development for the young professional is a great option if an individual program is not feasible.
- Establish a sliding scale for registration. I’ve seen many groups do this; however, I’ve seen many groups not do this. Offer a price break after 3 registrants, 5 registrants and so on. Or offer discounted pricing for first-time attendees, or under 35 attendees.
All too often associations focus their attention and time to the member that strokes the checks but neglects the person that will stroke that check in the next few years. Make 2020 the year to plan ahead, not only for this year but for the years ahead.