4 Steps to Avoid the Generational Trap

As time moves forward, your membership ages. This is a reality that no chapter can deny if they want to achieve continued longevity. Focus must shift as the target audience shifts. For instance, the tactics used for those classified as baby boomers will not often work for those in the Generation X or Millennial generations. Yes, there are some overarching activities that will work no matter what generation a person belongs to, but without shifting your approach, your chapter may end up with the same people that have been active for the last forty years or so. This presents a danger of your chapter fizzling out as members decide they no longer need what your chapter offers.

To avoid this generational trap there are 4 steps to follow:

  1.       Know and accept that there are different generations at play. And that there is great debate as to how to label said groups (what is below is one summary).  From a marketing perspective, the following list from W.J. Schroer offers insight into who is in the world.


  •   The Depression era (born 1912-1921) has a rapidly declining population of members who are retired.
  •   World War II era (born 1922 to 1927) also has a quickly declining population of members who are retired.
  •   Post-War era (born 1928-1945) cohort has a population of about 30 million, but are reaching or have entered retirement.
  •   The Baby Boomers I (born 1946-1954) have a population of about 30 million and are beginning to enter retirement.
  •   The Baby Boomers II, a.k.a. Generation Jones, (born 1955-1965) have a population of about 50 million and they are still active in the workplace, though some may be seeking early retirement.
  •   Generation X (born 1966-1976) members are heavy in the workforce with about 40 million members.  They are nowhere near retirement.
  •   Millenniums, a.k.a. Generation Y or Echo Boomers, (born 1977-1994) comprise about 70 million members who are quite active in the workforce, albeit with a different mentality. There is an attitude of “retiring” early through a work path that allows them to live more of a retired life than the traditional 9-5 jobs held by the generations before them. This group is more racially diverse and technologically savvy than the previous generations.
  •   Generation Z (born 1995-2012) has a population of about 35 million. This group is just graduating college and entering the workforce. They are completely tech reliant and marketing strategies of old will fall on deaf ears with them.


  1.       Be prepared to take a fresh approach. Don’t be afraid to go outside your box – in fact it is essential if you want to convert those prospects to active members. It is vital to listen to your members, recognizing the generation they are in and employ a targeted multifaceted campaign approach so you can reach all members of your chapter.


  1.       Use social media. Whether using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or some other social media tool, be certain to have a targeted campaign integrated into the appropriate platform that actually reaches members of your intended audience. Build slogans in such a way that you can convert them into memorable hashtags that will inspire online engagement. Indeed, for the Millennials and Generation Zers, online activity may mean a lot more to them then the live activities. And if they enjoy the experiences online, they will be more inclined to come out in person.


  1.       Tap into the emotional connection. Really try to reach members and prospects with something that pulls at the heartstrings. Even at general meetings that can be somewhat boring, you can incorporate a way to get involved in the community, a way for your chapter and its members to give back. The younger generation wants to make a commitment to making a difference in the world. Don’t underestimate that desire as you plan even the most mundane meeting.

The generation trap can easily be avoided by following these steps. Being open to the change that you chapter naturally will take over time is key to achieving sustainable growth for years to come.

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