How to Attract Young Professionals to Become Association Members

Robert S. Poulin
by Robert S. Poulin

Last Updated: February 13, 2019

For associations, membership growth equals organizational success, so finding and converting prospects into full-fledged members is critical. One segment ripe for conversion is young professionals.

05-How to Attract Young Professionals to become Association Members This segment represents the future of your association in two key ways. They have more years of potential membership value and they are more diverse than previous generations, lending much needed breadth and depth to your membership.

However, this segment is also harder to engage and less likely to join a trade association than previous generations. How can your marketing efforts reach this coveted audience, demonstrate your value proposition, and successfully engage and convert them?


Here are six components to consider to drive membership:

  1. Research your target audience. Everyone wants to target “young professionals,” so what specifically does this group find relevant about your trade association’s mission and goals? Market research can focus your targeting by providing concrete information and details about the audiences you’re trying to reach. With that data, you’ll be able to develop appropriate messaging and effective targeting strategies.

  1. Segment your audiences. Segmentation based on key user personas helps refine marketing messaging to target a specific audience through the right channels and with a different value proposition than other segments. This technique has the benefit of not alienating an organization’s existing or older members because they will be receiving content pertinent to their interests and membership status.

  2. Identify specific points of differentiation for each audience. Define what differentiates your association from competitors for young professionals versus other segments. Incorporate those points into marketing content that clearly and authentically articulates your organization’s vision and purpose. Younger audiences support organizations that demonstrate what makes their mission unique, rewarding, and consistent with the individual’s values.

  1. Analyze your competition. As you define your organization’s strengths, also evaluate your competition—an often-overlooked step that yields valuable insights. Competitive intelligence and a rigorous SWOT analysis provide insights into best practices and unseen opportunities that can enhance your marketing effectiveness. Knowing your competition also informs your brand positioning to best take advantage of your association’s value proposition.

  1. Iterate and hone your digital marketing strategy. Armed with your user data and refined messaging, you’re ready to test targeted communications with the young professional segment. Which of your benefits resonate most with this audience? Which variations of content, design, and channel are the most effective for conversion to membership? The more you continually track responses, evaluate performance, and iterate your approaches, the closer you’ll get to optimal performance.

  2. Automate and amplify your outbound marketing. Use marketing automation platforms such as Sitecore, Kentico, or HubSpot combined with the latest data analytics tools as an efficient, cost-effective way to amplify your association’s marketing efforts. The right platform can help your team scale its efforts well beyond its internal capabilities to meet your organization’s needs.
Using these approaches, you will steadily cultivate a targeted, robust young professional following and gain new members that provide the foundation for your long-term growth. If you’re ready to put these steps into practice at your trade association, drop us a line.