Identifying your future members
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Do you know who your members will be 10 years from now? Let’s understand the generational spectrum to define and identify your target audience and better understand their distinctive needs and expectations.
The search for your future member must be an on-going commitment.
This cannot be a passing strategic plan initiative or a new task force that comes and goes. It needs to be consistent and committed to throughout the organization.
Member forecasting must be rooted in a sincere understanding of motivations and expectations.
We have to admit, understand and agree that this is about them, not us.
The Generational Environment
This isn’t about stereotyping or limiting people based on when they were born, nor can it devolve into semantics regarding what to call different groups or different ages. This is about who our members are now and who are forthcoming in our pipeline of the communities, career paths or industries you serve.
To better understand the shifts that are impacting our industries, professions and communities, look to:
- Workforce statistics
- Educational statistics
- Industry surveys
- Member surveys
Using these tools will help you understand what is happening. The data is available; you have to commit to collecting and reviewing it in an ongoing manner. Establish benchmarks and understand what's happening in your industry and who your members are.
If you don't have a member survey or a way to get demographics of your members, figure out how to get that information in a socially and legally acceptable way. Add that information to your member survey, your onboarding information and member application. Figure out who your members are so you can better determine where they fit in the industry and what cultural shifts are happening around them to help you create the categories of information you want to measure across the new and forthcoming generations.
Remember: Don’t assume your future members will be young, and don’t limit yourself to only younger demographics. You may not be looking at younger generations based on the careers you serve.
Who are your members now?
Consider the following questions:
- What do you know about your members’ future?
- How are they changing?
- How is the industry/community changing?
- Why is that change happening?
Look to who your current members are becoming and how their pain points are changing and evolving. This will help you start to see where the current members are moving to within industry shifts, who is stepping in behind them and who is the future of that community, industry, or profession. THEY are your future members.
Data driven member forecasting is a must to define who your new members are and how to stay relevant to your current members.
There needs to be a commitment to the collection of internal and external information to get an idea of your membership and your marketplace. Leveraging market awareness, job numbers, graduation rates, educational statistics, retirements, your own member numbers and market data allow you to identify and prepare for upcoming trends.
Either through your AMS, CRM or other methods of tracking member and industry data, you must track and measure data over time to establish benchmarks and identify trends. Leverage your familiarity with demographic shifts to adapt messaging, benefit offerings and engage new market segments.
Define your ideal future member
Think big and cast a wide net.
Consider the following questions to develop your ideal member’s persona/profile:
- Who can you help/impact most?
- What are they doing now?
- What is their path to your organization?
Create a variety of profiles that intersect with your organization’s mission and strength. There won’t be just one ideal future member, but many. What’s the data telling you?
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