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10 Things I Learned at the Fraternal/Communications Sections Meeting…

March 29, 2010

The just-concluded Fraternal and Communications Sections Mid-Year Meeting was an eye-opener.  Most, if not all, of the speakers focused heavily on communicating with and selling products to the next generation of fraternal members – Gen X-ers (born between 1965-1979) and Millennials (born between 1980-2000).  If your society is planning on sticking around and staying relevant, the information presented during the Section meeting was absolutely invaluable.  Here’s a quick review of what I learned when it comes to the getting those 20- and 30-somethings involved in your organization:

  1. They don’t want to be sold; they want to be seen, heard and respected. (How will that play with your local lodge leaders?)

  2. There are three words to describe this group – flexible, flexible, flexible. (As opposed to the three words that describe many fraternals – rigid, rigid, rigid.)

  3. They are not concerned with “command and control” organizational structures. When it comes to volunteer activities they want to see the problem, fix the problem, and move on. (Does this fit in your society?)

  4. They are enmeshed with technology and word-of-mouth advertising is #1. They will share good experiences with friends and social networks rapidly through Facebook, Twitter, etc. (Is your society engaged in social networking that can lead to such word-of-mouth advertising?)

  5. They use social media to facilitate relationships, not to get information on products and services. However, their purchasing decisions are influenced by their social networks. (Aren’t relationships what fraternals are all about?)

  6. They have an enormously powerful need to belong to groups. Relationships based on common values and shared interests (fraternal) are much more powerful than those based on “transactions” (financial). (Is your relationship with your members purely “transactional,” i.e. based on the sale of a life insurance policy or annuity?)

  7. They are not interested in even discussing life insurance. It’s not relevant to them. That’s a topic their grandparents talk about. (So stop trying to get water from a rock by bringing this subject up.)

  8. They are scared and insecure about their financial condition and they are very interested in banking services – especially on-line banking services. They describe their relationship with their current bank as “like having a root canal.” (Hey, doesn’t this make the case for offering your members and prospects banking services through the NFCA retail banking initiative!!!)

  9. They like the idea of a non-profit financial services company. (So let’s share that message with them!)

  10. They don’t think that “giving back” through community service activities is a differentiator in the marketplace; however, they do think that “giving back locally” is. (And that’s what we do best, right?)

Societies tell the NFCA repeatedly that one of the biggest challenges they face is recruiting and engaging younger members.  Did you send anyone to this meeting?  Have you sent someone to any earlier Fraternal and Communications meetings where this topic is always addressed?  Why or why not? 

So what’s your take on all of this?  And what are you doing to tap into this market?  Is your society actively engaged in attracting younger members?  If so, was your youth initiative designed by them or by some Boomer or pre-Boomer in the home office?  What’s working and what isn’t?  This is a great place to share those ideas.  Post your comments here…