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It’s easy for membership organizations to get lost in the daily details of running a business. 

But from time to time, it’s important to step back and ask basic questions about what value your membership actually delivers. If you’re struggling to attract new members — especially younger ones— it might be because your offerings are available elsewhere, or even lacking.

Addressing this problem starts with audience segmentation to identify who is and isn’t present within your membership. It continues in designing a lifetime journey any member would be excited to take. 

These four strategies can help you boost the value your membership organization delivers:

Highlight unique benefits of your membership

Many organizations assume younger potential members can’t afford to join. But this demographic might actually have the means to join — they just choose not to spend their hard-earned money on membership fees. If they can find high-quality social groups and resources for free, they have no reason to join your organization. 

How can you get them to notice you? Start by auditing competitors in your space. What are they doing well? What can you offer that’s even more valuable?

By re-thinking your messaging to highlight the unique benefits of membership, you’ll be well positioned to pique younger people’s interest and win their trust. 

Build social proof

If your membership already includes younger people, start by connecting with them. Ask why they joined and whether they’re receiving the value they hoped for. Understanding this segment’s goals, needs and perspectives will help you rethink your membership program.

By including younger members in this process, you can tweak existing perks and tailor new offerings to their needs. With time, you’ll refine a set of offerings that truly connect with your audience. 

Throughout the process, keep an eye out for younger members who are enthusiastic about your organization. Their testimonials will serve as crucial social proof to attract new members. 

Design a compelling hook

People tend to join membership programs at specific moments in their lives. If your organization has historically focused on people who are advanced in their careers, you’ll need to develop a new set of hooks that can help you usher in a new generation of members. 

Effective moments to reach out to younger potential members could include:

  • When they earn an undergraduate or advanced degree
  • When they enter their first job in the industry
  • When they’re looking for a new job and want to forge connections 

Once you’ve identified compelling hooks, you’ll be able to tailor your messaging to address moments in potential members’ lives.

Create a lifetime journey

Many membership organizations envision their ideal user as a mid- or late-career professional. Successful membership organizations manage to intervene earlier, creating a journey that can aid members at a variety of stages throughout their careers. 

If your membership organization offers only one tier, consider diversifying your offerings. You could create a low-cost tier for students, a higher tier with plenty of social offerings for young professionals and a premium tier for young members to grow into.

If you’re willing to ask hard questions and think critically about what your membership actually offers, you’ll be well-positioned to refine your offerings into a program anyone would be thrilled to join.

Want to know if your association is doing enough to engage future members? Download our FREE “Facing the Future” worksheet.” The worksheet will help you find innovative ways to engage with tomorrow’s members, figure out how to tackle new initiatives and decide whether it’s time to phase out irrelevant features. Get it now!

AssociationSuccess.org is a digital collaboration space for association professionals looking to challenge the status quo and think in innovative ways to move today's association industry into the future. We publish educational content from forward-thinking minds in the association industry and beyond. With articles, eBooks and our uniquely collaborative virtual conferences, including SURGE, we look to spark new ideas that can drive change and create new leaders. We don’t worry about where good ideas come from; we’re more interested in what those ideas actually are.

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AssociationSuccess.org is a digital collaboration space for association professionals looking to challenge the status quo and think in innovative ways to move today's association industry into the future. We publish educational content from forward-thinking minds in the association industry and beyond. With articles, eBooks and our uniquely collaborative virtual conferences, including SURGE, we look to spark new ideas that can drive change and create new leaders. We don’t worry about where good ideas come from; we’re more interested in what those ideas actually are.

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