I get emails regularly talking about Millennials–who they are, how they act, how they make buying decisions, and what’s important to them. As an association management company, our association clients are constantly grappling with how to reach this large and powerful demographic to engage them as members, volunteers and customers.

Age is certainly one factor to consider when trying to engage members, but as I learned recently at the national Recreation Vehicle (RV) conference for an association, it should certainly not be the only factor you think about. Another powerful concept that associations should take into account is the concept of valuegraphics, which groups people together based on what they value, as opposed to other attributes or qualities like age, gender, nationality, etc. Never heard of it? Neither had I. But despite the growing evidence to suggest that valuegraphics could be a quite effective marketing tool, most people continue to focus on age.

What Does Age Have to Do with It?

I have always struggled with the labels given to age groups: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Z and Millennials. One of the reasons is because I fall into that age range that spans over two different groups, so I have never figured out what I am supposed to be, how people need to approach me to get me to purchase things, or what I am supposed to be thinking about certain things.

At the RV conference I attended, the opening keynote speaker on the big stage was presenting on Millennials. The speaker talked about Millennials having the most buying power in society these days and what this means for marketers, manufacturers, employers and the purchasing of goods and services.

The speaker was really quite good and was able to cite many analogies that the audience could connect with on their interactions with Millennials as employees and as customers. There were lots of laughs in the audience as people could easily relate to the differences in age demographic. I left that session feeling pretty confident that, yes, we need to adapt our thinking to how we connect with this age demographic.

My next session, however, was quite different. There I was introduced to the topic of valuegraphics, and this is when it got really interesting for me.

My Aha Moment

It was David Allison of David Allison Inc. who provided me with my “Aha Moment” by introducing the concept of valuegraphics to me. I won’t begin to explain the data accumulation method that David spoke about, as you can go to his website and learn about the science behind valuegraphics yourself here. What he did was provide clarity about how and why people make decisions to buy products, get involved in activities and do the things that they value (hence, “value”graphics). This can also be applied in managing associations.

We live in a data driven time, and David talked about the data behind decision-making based on what people value. Ultimately, when understanding why people make the decisions they do, looking through a value lens is more accurate than looking through an age-based lens. Age is being redefined all the time, and this line of thinking opened my eyes to changing my perspective about my work as an executive director for our association management clients and how it affects the members our associations serve.

Valuegraphics in Action

David applied his data to profile customers that were sitting on the fence about making a decision to purchase an RV. He broke the fence sitters into four different groups and walked through what they value in making a decision towards the purchase of an RV.

One group he talked about was the “Stalled Guilt-Ridden Adventurers”. The data showed that they want and can buy an RV, but they anticipate not using it enough so feel guilty. A higher level of luxury is expected, and environmentally responsible features are very important to this group. They are older, tend to be female, successful, married with kids and social.

The next part of the analysis was interesting. We learned that this group values relationships and family, financial security, experiences and material possessions. As an RV dealer, having this information would be very helpful in building your message and product offering towards this group of people. During the analysis, David didn’t once talk about the age of the people in the “Stalled Guilt-Ridden Adventurer” because it wasn’t the determining factor on why they are making their buying decision.

Benefits of Using Valuegraphics

The following benefits come directly from the valuegraphics.com/howithelps website and explain how this concept can help your association better serve its members:

  1. Valuegraphics will multiply your budget. The insights from a Valuegraphics Profile increase the effectiveness of your messaging as much as eight times. Just imagine if you had an 800% budget increase.
  2. Valuegraphics simply makes all your initiatives motivate more people more often.
  3. Valuegraphics mitigates planning for risk. Instead of relying on gut feelings or the opinion of the most powerful person in the room, you can settle on a direction based on data.
  4. Valuegraphics fuels innovation. Now that we can more accurately predict reactions from a target audience, it is less scary to try new and innovative ideas.
  5. Valuegraphics can eliminate arguing and politics. Decisions based on audience data save time and money and reduces the strain on working relationships. All good things!

David shared during the presentation that demographics describe, psychographics record, and what we value determines what we do. It was refreshing to look at understanding people through this lens.

As an association management company, we are constantly working with our boards to better understand how we connect with the members they serve. Making decisions on how to engage your members strictly based on what age demographic they fall into might be limiting to the growth and strength of your association.

Next time you have a conversation or go to a presentation about Millennials (and there will be more), think about the concept of valuegraphics and how you might apply it to your association. It was an eye opener for me and has challenged me to think about how I talk about connecting with members, board members and stakeholders with our association management clients.