In the book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman, the author identifies 5 ways that you can show that you love someone.
- Words of Affirmation – Telling them how much you appreciate them.
- Acts of service – Doing something for someone.
- Physical touch – A tender touch. Massage, etc.
- Quality time – Carving out focused time to spend with one-on-one.
- Giving gifts – The gifts can be small. It’s the act of giving that matters.
Each person has a different priority for which of the 5 languages is most important. If you give a gift to someone whose love language is words of affirmation, they may feel unappreciated and that you don’t truly love them. I find that when I list out the 5 languages, I seem to forget the one that is the least important to me.
How can we apply this idea in our quest of adding and/or retaining millennium employees, members, or volunteers? It starts with the realization that what says “love” to some members may not mean the same thing to others. We can make some generalizations about what millennials seek in an organization.
You need to speak their language – If you only use Facebook for promoting your association or nonprofit organization’s messaging you may speaking a language that many millennials don’t hear. Expand your social media platforms to cast as wide a net as possible. Be sure to include Instagram. Click to watch a webinar :
How to use Instagram to grow association membership.
Be sure to use images on your website and in social media that include millennial representation. It’s important to stay relevant to your audience. If nothing’s changed in your organization messaging, activities, and approach to your brand, then you may be out of touch with your audience’s needs.
Tell a story – Your organization’s corporate news shouldn’t always be the center of attention. An announcement of a new employee is very exciting for their parents and their friends; however, the organization at large probably thinks, “meh.”
Stories that tell about a member who was supported by the organization, or a constituent who was helped by your organization’s activities can be powerful. People want to read stories about things that are important to them and want to see how their contributions support the organization or the constituents. Well written stories, or story videos can attract millennials to your organization.
How do you make a story compelling to your audience? Be concise. Few people will take the time to watch a 20-minute video or read a long newsletter or article.
Avoid text-only content. Visual components help break up non-compelling copy. The phrase, “a picture’s worth a thousand words” is true and will help sustain a reader’s interest.
Topics that resonate with the audience – Philanthropic interest stories can be attractive to millennials. Stories about organization members who have moved into leadership positions can also resonate with the audience who sees opportunities to participate.
If you have a professional association then stories about members who have mentored other members or people in the community may satisfy a millennial’s desire to learn to move ahead in their careers.
If your website is a place that members visit frequently then change your website photos often. A site can get stale and visitors will lose interest over time. If the hairstyles in the people photos are mullets, “big” hair, or the “Rachel” haircut (from Friends,) then it may be time to swap out those images. (Unless those styles come back, as some have recently.) You only have one chance to make a good first impression.
Promote active participation for millennials in the organization
Outline some ways members can contribute to the operation and growth of the organization. Recognizing the contributions of active members (words of affirmation) can be attractive to prospective millennials and the recognition can make a good story. Give a plaque (giving gifts) or a certificate and show a photo and story recognizing the contribution of that member. Guest blogging or helping to post on social media may be outlets where millennials can participate and contribute to the running of the organization.
Create a sense of community within your organization – The trend of many Chambers of Commerce and other organizations to have “young professionals” groups within the organization for networking and for philanthropy projects. That feeds into the desire of millennials to develop close relationships with their peers. If you can find ways to encourage that and include options that are not limited to bar crawls, your organization will attract millennials seeking that feature. What opportunities are there to encourage people with like-minded interests to gather within the organization? Concerts and special events have worked well to attract millennials for some organizations.
Do a value check on your organization’s offering(s) – If you offer a mismatch between your services and those of interest to your audience, you will see a decline in participation and membership.
For example, a current trend in fitness companies as well as other businesses and organizations, is for ala carte membership packages. It’s an idea that many millennials want to see. If your organization’s fees are high, it may be beneficial to offer a lower cost membership for younger members. If you can increase the volume of members, even at a reduced membership rate, you may be able to positively impact the revenue of the organization. And the increase in member excitement by more millennials who get involved can retain current members and attract prospective member show want to be part of the action.
Use current technology – Millennials demand current technology. If your website is outdated, or if you use manual procedures to operate your organization, you will be seen as less desirable. A website that requires users to download a PDF and mail it to the organization, or worse – to fax the form, will be shunned.
Help millennials acclimate to the organization – Members who aren’t used to networking or are intimidated around older members should be supported. Staff can help introduce them to other members at events, or a mentoring structure where established members guide new members and serve as a resource for new members. This can work well for members of all ages and experience. In our local Chamber of Commerce, they are called ambassadors.
Provide learning opportunities – Learning opportunities help feed the desire for career or personal growth.
So, this Valentine’s Day, think about how your organization can speak the love language of your millennial audience.
They’ll love you for it!