I like to write about Millennials. There. I’ve admitted it and while there are many stereotypes that plague generations (I’m a lone wolf Gen Xer, if you must know), the latest information out of the PewResearch Social & Demographic Trend is cause for alarm for membership organizations.
According to the new report based on a new Pew Research Center survey conducted February 14-23, 2014 consisting of 1,821 adults nationwide, including 617 Millennial adults, and analysis of other Pew Research Center surveys conducted between 1990 and 2014, Millennials (age 18-33 now) are:
- “unattached” from organized religion and politics
- distrustful of people
- connected through social media
- swimming in debt
- racially diverse
Millennials and the Chamber
The first concern in recruiting Millennial business owners is cost. While discounting membership devalues it in the eyes of the member, expecting a generation plagued by debt to join may be difficult. Is it time to offer a free level of chamber membership?
I know many sales people say that nothing ever comes down to cost unless all value is equal (or perceived equal). I’ve also heard chambers talk about their dues being the price of a cup of coffee. Neither one of these arguments will sway a millennial to join and there’s a good chance that they would choose their cup of coffee every morning anyway (note: the mini-infographic in this post).
There’s an old saying in marketing – you are not the target audience. This is especially true when recruiting millennials. Basing offerings on what you think you’d like (unless you are a millennial), is irrelevant to this generation.
One of the things that surprised me most about the study was that only 19% believed most people can be trusted (and here I thought only Gen Xers felt that way). What does this mean for your chamber? Telling millennials to join, even as a mentor, may not be your most effective means of recruitment.
Chambers are going to have to rely on earned/word-of-mouth marketing with Gen Y. Member testimonials won’t be enough unless those testimonials come from people they know and trust.
So what is the answer to courting millennials? What is the magic elixir?
Creating groups within the main chamber for them or completely overriding how the chamber does business to appeal to a generation?
These are tough questions, the kind that will be discussed as part of the larger conversation on the broken chamber industry. If you missed Frank’s post yesterday, you need to read it.
It’s time we – as an industry – had those tough discussions.
What do you think?
Guest post by Christina Green
Image via Flickr by Mike Vidikan