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7 tips for communicating with #millennials (Hint: that magazine you mailed out last week isn’t doing it…)

Once again, the Fraternal Communications Advisory Council staged a terrific Mid-Year Meeting that featured insightful speakers, loads of networking opportunities, and just enough time for fun.

But the session that really caught my attention was “Recruiting the Right Volunteers,” a two-hour workshop filled with mini-breakouts that required meeting attendees to come up with potential solutions to many of the most vexing member engagement problems that their societies face every day – and then share those ideas with all conference attendees.

And the group that captivated the audience was the 20 or so millennials – those folks born after 1980 – that are doing their best to make their societies’ community service programs relevant to the next generation of members. Their assignment was to provide tips for the most effective way to communicate with these prospective members/financial services consumers. Check out this photo of the flip sheet

Millennial chart
chart they prepared. Note that the items they listed aren’t numbered or bullet-pointed – they are “hash-tagged” as in Twitter handles. Are you starting to get the picture? 

These tips should be posted on every office or workspace in your building so that everyone on your staff puts them to use in every member/prospect communication. More importantly, every one of your field representatives needs to know and understand these tips because if they are relying on direct mail and telemarketing to contact these folks, their sales results are going to be…disappointing.

Here’s my translation of the millennials tips:

#socialmedia – They are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snap Chat. Where is your society and its field force?

#makemefeelimportant – These young people want to think that what you are asking them to do in the community service arena is important and that THEIR contributions to that effort will make a difference. What are you doing to accomplish that?

#engagementwithoutcommitment – Their attitude toward community service is “See the problem, fix the problem, look for the next problem to solve.” They’re not going to go to monthly chapter meetings and manage the same project year-after-year.

#throwussomeapps – Today it takes more than a cool web site to attract folks, especially younger folks. They want apps for specific functions that are quicker and more relevant to what you are asking them to do. This applies to not only community service but financial services.

#phoneanxiety – Don’t call; it will go to voice mail. Especially cold calls from folks they don’t know. It takes some work to get through their screens. And that work is largely done on social media and via electronic communication.

#personalthanks – Remember, these young people have received a participation trophy for every activity in which they’ve been involved. If they participate in a community service event and don’t receive a personal thank you – electronic ones are fine, as long as they are personal – chances are you’ll never see them at another one of your events again.

#wearenomads – This group moves – A LOT! Sometimes more than once a year. Sending them something in the mail is a waste of your society’s time and money!

Remember, these aren’t my opinions, these are tips from the millennials that work for you. Before you initiate your next big marketing push, talk to the millennials in your society about the strategy and get their feedback. Better yet, have them talk to the field representatives themselves.

Need more information about millennials? ASK THEM!

4 Responses

  1. Interesting. Millennials want to feel important and want personal thanks, yet it seems much harder to do that without personal contact.

  2. On the note of #personalthanks – a part of that discussion in the Millennial group was that an in-person thank you at the volunteer event is fine. Let us know what was accomplished and give a quick thanks. Just don’t waste your time sending a physical thank-you note!

  3. Great post about a great session, Joe! I thought I might expand on some of the points you made to provide further clarity around some of the hashtags (we readily admit hashtags are not always the best way to communicate):

    #engagementwithoutcommitment – We WANT to get involved, but may not be ready to buy products in our early and mid-twenties. Keeping us aware of your organization through volunteer opportunities—without the commitment of becoming members or saddling us with a council position—can help your company stay top-of-mind WHEN we are ready to make those purchases and time commitments.

    #throwussomeapps – Apps are cool and apps are great (and we liked the wordplay with food because it was right before lunch), but if you don’t already have the cool website Joe talked about, forget the apps and start with your website. Our opinions are formed within seconds of landing on a web page. A poorly-designed and hard-to-navigate website will turn us away faster than almost any other detractors.

    #personalthanks – Kaitlin summed it up in her reply, so I’ll just add: #personalthanks could just as easily be called #connectwithme as a reminder that we want to get engaged with causes and people we care about and you can accomplish that by communicating with us directly.

  4. Thanks for the additional insights! I hope folks are paying attention…jja

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