Where an individual is in his/her career makes a big difference in what he/she is expecting to gain from joining an association. Career stage also makes a critical difference in whether or not someone chooses to participate in your association’s events and courses. Understanding these career stages and tailoring your marketing approach for each will make the difference between a successful education program or a disappointing one. Discover the five career stages below: The Student, The New Grad, The Early Career Worker, The Mid-Career Professional, and The Seasoned Expert.
The Student may still be in school, but they’re already thinking about career direction, wanting information about the industry, and looking for mentorship. Although The Student is not an ideal candidate for education sales at this particular stage (after all, they do juggle a full load of courses already, and may not even have the prerequisites to qualify for professional development courses), it is still important to market the overall value of your association for their future careers.
If you’re able to build a good relationship at this stage, The Student has strong potential to become a lifelong member. The good news is that as an association, you have the authority, credibility and neutrality to provide The Student with the type of guidance they’re looking for. Collaborate with career centers and participate in career fairs, speak to professors about coming in for guest lectures, and recruit student ambassadors to share information about your association and what it can do for The Student’s future career. This investment will pay off in the long run.
The New Grad
Having recently graduated from school, The New Grad’s driving motivation is finding a job and getting a career started. Education sales from this group is likely to come from new graduates on the job search, looking to pad their resumes with certifications, courses, and new skills. They may also be hungry for opportunities to network as part of their job search and eager to participate in industry conferences and events. So, when you’re marketing to this group, make sure to emphasize the networking, mentorship, and job search related benefits of becoming a member of your association and/or participating in your events and education programs.
Employed or not, The New Grad is making the transition from student life, getting their footing in the industry, and seeking validation that this career path is right for them. Similarly to The Student, the impressionable and malleable New Grad could become a valuable member for life if engaged in the right way—in other words, with education programs that resonate with them. In a previous article we covered the top 5 reasons why your conference needs to go digital, which included reasons like connecting with the net generation and attracting new members. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to check it out!
The Early Career Worker
Having completed the school-work transition, The Early Career Worker continues to network, make connections in the industry, and expand their professional network. The Early Career Worker enjoys more stability and disposable income than The New Grad, giving them the flexibility to join new organizations, attend events, enroll in courses, and generally incorporate more extracurricular activities into their lives. Furthermore due to their work experience and practical knowledge of the field, this group is more likely than The Student or The New Grad to be looking for specific skills or training from an association rather than broad, general benefits of joining. Therefore, when marketing to this group, it is important to explain specific skills and learning objectives to be gained from your courses and how those skills can be applied in the workplace.
With relatively fewer years of experience in the industry, The Early Career Worker is less likely to be attached to existing norms and more likely to be open to trying newer forms of education and communication. If your association is able to engage The Early Career Worker, they could become valuable brand ambassadors and key players in your word-of-mouth marketing.
The Mid-Career Professional
The Mid-Career Professional has likely reached a point in their career where they are looking for a major update in their skill sets, or even a career change. They may be considering returning to school for another degree or exploring new certificate programs. They are more likely than other groups to be looking for tools to help them move up in their careers, such as managerial and soft skills training. They are researching options, meaning they are visiting your association's website to see what educational opportunities are available. Make sure you are prepared for them! If you haven’t already, check out our previous article on turning wandering website visitors into valuable online learners.
The Mid-Career Professional has significant influence on many of the other groups that could be potential members or participants of your education programs and events. As managers and supervisors, they may recommend (or even make mandatory) your association and your courses to the Early Career Workers and New Grads they mentor or supervise. The Mid-Career Professional has had the time to build a meaningful professional network, which serves as a valuable resource for word-of-mouth marketing. Furthermore, the Mid-Career Professional has greater access to top tier decision makers of the companies they work for, which is particularly relevant for associations targeting institutional members or selling group licenses for their education programs.
The Seasoned Expert
With years of experience in the industry, The Seasoned Expert may be looking for a convenient and quick way to update their skills. They may also be motivated to make their mark or give back to the industry by sharing their knowledge, mentoring, and presenting at events. This group is instrumental not only in generating a sense of community within your association, but also in creating meaningful educational content that attract the other career groups to your association. With their wide professional network and decision making authority in the workplace, this group is also likely to have access to internships and career opportunities that catch the attention of The Student, The New Grad, and The Early Career Worker.