How is Your Organization Attracting Women Specifically?
All this talk about attracting millennials and yet we are missing the giant not-so-subtle-anymore elephant in the room - women. We’ve seen the Women’s March take place for the second straight year, chances are you or someone you know used the hashtag “#MeToo” in solidarity, and we’re all noticing the black attire in the room at celebrity and political events. While we’re not here to get political, we are going to touch on how organizations serving their members can better attract the female professional to grow and compete with emerging trends.
What emerging organizations can associations look to for inspiration?
Let’s address the issue head on: a professional woman can face a lonely road at the top of her game as the executive, entrepreneur, or even entry-level breaking into a male-dominated industry. That’s the pain point new companies like The Wing - we heard recently addressed in the Associations Now publication - are willing and able to address. With a reported 1,500 members paying $3,000 annually for access, it should be eye-opening for any association - trade or professional. What women at The Wing provide seem to be influential founders with celebrity connections, coveted communities, access to networking, and professional development; and they are not alone in their niche. What they are offering as a woman-only benefit seems to be popping up around the country.
With remote work on the rise, we are seeing other organizations in the same vein surface in the market to include: Shecosystem, Hera Hub, and Rise Work Space. Each with the competitive mission of bringing together a “curated community” so that members can advance professionally, “through collaboration and educational programming.” Before I could even finish this blog, I came across another women-focused business in my LinkedIn feed, Accelerate Her, another organization claiming to offer a “private network” for women in technology.
How can member and trade organizations appeal to women professionals with greater ease of accessing benefits to network, collaborate, learn, and showcase?
Specific pages for celebrities and businesses are ubiquitous at this point on Facebook and communities aren't anything new either; however, there’s a shift underway. Facebook announced a news feed update earlier this year that changes how brands can engage with their communities. Associations should be considering a strategy for managing and engaging Facebook community - specifically for women. Your Facebook community should address your unique selling point as an association and why your women-members and prospective women-members come to you, what pain point you address that they can't get anywhere else, and how your thriving community can help other participants succeed. Also, why haven’t you jumped on the LIVE video feature yet? Live video drives nearly 6 times as many interactions as regular video, according to BusinessWire. Every event you roll-out should have a Facebook Live strategy complete with the internal or external expert speakers hosting and sharing the value of your live or virtual program.
Ready-made local chapter campaigns
As a volunteer for AIGA Hampton Roads as their Communications Director, we were often faced with attracting new members through local events and we were left to promote, execute, and run the show with limited resources. From that experience, we learned to look to nearby chapters for partnering on speakers, etc., as well as, rely on general outreach to yield attractive speakers that would in-turn attract and engage our members. Had we been given the initiative from the top-down to focus on women, we could have been better equipped to optimize a growing movement.
The national or state level association might want to strategize and deliver ready-made chapter campaigns geared for women and let the volunteers execute at the local level. The local volunteers know intimately their community and how to promote and curate a women-only event; all while adding value to the larger organization as a whole. Consider passing down graphics for all channels (email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). Focus the event around one or a few of the following: learning, connecting, improving, and/or giving back. Capitalize on local leaders reach and influence, while directing the content and serving local professional women.
Women-first content strategies
Speaking of content, focus an area of your marketing solely on how to reach women in your industry. It should be an all-encompassing media plan taking into account your digital channels and how you want to get the message across. Will your organization offer a branch solely focused on women like these 9 organizations? Perhaps, narrow it down even more to high school women entering their degreed education in male-dominated professions (there are too many to list). Chances are your organization can do a better job than current efforts at helping fellow women break into leadership level roles in their profession.
While co-working space for remote workers may not be the golden parachute for associations wanting to attract women, the organizations popping up in this niche are solving something associations have the potential to address - so why not capitalize on it? Shift attention to women at every level of the profession or industry you serve and consider a communications strategy to address this population. Start with how you can better serve their needs for collaboration, networking, learning, and excelling into leadership roles where often men have dominated.
Photo credit: Best Running
About Emily Nash
With a unique background in start-ups-to-studios, and consulting-to-corporate settings, Emily specializes in solving for unknowns, pioneering new services, and collaborating with marketers and strategists. In her community, she served on the board of American Institute for Graphic Arts as their Communications Director to help promote networking and mentorship opportunities for area designers and creatives. She’s also a co-producer for Rethink Association, a podcast for associations.