Getting to Gen Y (It’s not as hard as you think.)

By Elsbeth Russell • August 12, 2014

Sarah Sladek
Sarah Sladek, author and founder of XYZ University.

In her session “Getting to Gen Y,” Sarah Sladek dissected the much talked-about generation into several subsections. Sladek identified Millennials as those born between 1982 and 1995. (And in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a millennial based on this criteria.)

Helping to break down ways associations may try to attract this generation, which next year is projected to make up nearly 40 percent of the U.S. workforce, Sladek mentioned these subsections, among others:
These millenials are looking for great value, but want to do things that are new and trendy. Having come up through a recession they’re thinking about money and think of a membership as an investment. How are you giving your members access to valuable assets? They want value and exclusivity. Are you offering it?
They’re also thinking of time as the most precious commodity. Find ways to save them time to create value for your membership.
Digital Natives
Generation Y has grown up with access to technology. While Baby Boomers and Gen X are digital immigrants, Sladek said Gen Y are digital natives.
Think about what has changed about our world because of technology:
  • The world is smaller
  • Instant gratification
  • It’s an era of authentic communications
  • User review mean the end user is more powerful than the company
Gen Y says "YOLO."
Gen Y is primarily interested in doing something with their lives that is meaningful and influential. Photo by Jim Leach.

This means your members are doing your marketing for you, make sure they’re giving you a good review.

Trophy Kids
Often known as the generation where everyone gets a trophy just for showing up, Gen Y often asks, “What’s in it for me?” They’re focused on the concept of happiness and rewards and a model that puts members first will help attract them.
Many people say that Gen Y is not a generation of joiners but Sladek says the steps to get them involved is not as complicated as you might think. She offered five steps to getting Millennials involved:
  1. Someone you admire invites you to attend or join.
  2. The energy is inviting, leadership is open to innovation and value is immediately apparent.
  3. The opportunity to do something influential and meaningful is immediately available.
  4. The outcomes of your work are apparent and contributions are appreciated.
  5. You are invited to be in a relationship with the association via new opportunities and steps 3-5 repeat.
What does this emerging market need and value most? Sladek says don’t guess, the stakes are too high. Ask!