Turning New Graduates Into Your Association’s Newest Members
New graduates are one of the most important groups for any association. They are well-trained, ambitious, and most importantly, primed and ready to grow within a new industry. Making this group even more alluring for associations, nearly two-thirds of all association members joined their association within five years of graduation. New graduates are incredibly important to the success of most organizations. However, since the majority of new graduates today are “Millennials” (born between 1980 and 2000), this comes with new challenges.
According to the Naylor’s Association Communications Benchmarking Survey, more than half of all associations find Millennials difficult to recruit. The reason for this is primarily because most associations fail to account for age or career stage when setting up their recruiting strategy. This usually includes a lack of personalization that is specifically for Millennials — a major misstep. These new graduates are looking for very specific things from their future associations: job opportunities, networking, and professional development. While many associations offer these benefits, some slight graduate-specific alterations can go a long way in increasing their effectiveness.
1. Allow For Customized Memberships
New graduates are looking for an association that is designed specifically for them. The most successful online companies allow users to completely control their experience. Since many new graduates grew up in this online world, they expect it from all companies nowadays. For associations, a similar experience can be offered simply by allowing new members to tailor a membership to their needs. Whether this means members hand-selecting the membership benefits they wish to receive and pay for or simply picking between one of several membership packages and payment options, choice and customization are essential and effective.
2. Personalize Your Communication
Another effective strategy that organizations use to attract to both new graduates and Millennials is personalization. Personalization is important in every aspect of an association’s outreach, from communications to membership offerings. To reach new graduates, communications should be addressed specifically that group and certain membership features should be created for them. One powerful tool is to host job listings specifically for new professionals or hosting networking events for students and new graduates to meet with experienced professionals and mentors.
3. Demonstrate Membership Value Clearly
New graduates look for clearly defined associational values when selecting an organization to align themselves with. Transparency and clarity are essential throughout all communications and marketing efforts. Rather than posting a laundry list of membership benefits, new graduates need to see how a membership translates into personal value for them. When it comes to professional development, for example, clarify what career paths and/or positions might result from each professional development course/credential. By laying out a career roadmap, new graduates are able to see both the long- and short-term value in joining.
4. Focus Advertising on New Graduates
Digital advertising on social media, such as Facebook or Instagram, allows for effective targeted marketing, campaigns that can reach specific groups with specific messages. This is incredibly important when trying to address new graduates personally. The one-size-fits-all model of advertising will not prove as effective for new graduates as it is for other groups, so associations should separate this group from the rest.
One effective strategy for attracting new graduates is to reach them before they even finish schooling or shortly afterwards. This can be accomplished by offering a free or discounted annual membership for students and/or new graduates. Or consider offering a free course to new graduates. With education and professional growth high on their list of must-haves, new graduates seek associations that place emphasis on professional development, and education embedded into marketing is sure to capture interest.
5. Utilize Online Technologies
While this is a broad category, it’s important, especially for new graduates. When marketing to this group, associations must demonstrate that they are on top of emerging trends. While social media is not new, how associations use it is always changing. Simply being present on social media is not enough. Directly engaging in issues that new graduates are interested in is a must and the most effective marketing strategy for today’s associations.
According to the Elite Daily Millennial Consumer Study 2015, more than 60% of Millennials are more willing to work with a brand that directly connected with them online. Many new technologies are designed for younger and technologically savvier users by improving intuitiveness, convenience, and accessibility. Hosting virtual conferences and/or providing interactive online learning, for example, not only demonstrates that an association is progressing with the times, but it also shows new graduates that the association is looking toward the future just like them.