Reduced membership rates announced earlier this month already have helped draw new young professionals to the Business Marketing Association. “It’s a great move not only for BMA National, but also for each region that is looking to grow,” says Jonathan McGrew, a Colorado-chapter board member who is charged with increasing early-career participation.
McGrew works with a Colorado committee to organize an event schedule that recruits young business marketing professionals. Free meet-ups and low-cost cocktail presentations provide an introduction to the broader organization. The events demonstrate the benefits of membership.
“We look at this as a long sales cycle,” McGrew says. “We need to prove the value.”
But the price of membership presented a challenge. “The gateway [cost] was just killing us,” he says. “Employees felt uncomfortable bringing it to their bosses. A lot of companies don’t see value in sending a low-level employee to BMA. You have to have a savvy manager to see the value.”
Five young professionals who had been taking part in individual events converted to full-fledged memberships in the week after the announcement of the new rate structure, he says. Young professionals under the age of 30 now pay $75, and all of that money goes to the chapter.
“It is met with excitement from executive management to staff,” says Chris Vitrano, president-elect of BMA-Milwaukee. He serves as marketing director at Nelson Schmidt. “It makes it easy to incorporate BMA into the benefits package that our company offers. BMA organizations can now offer young professionals at large an ability to enhance and improve personal skills to network.”
Some chapters are packaging the young professional discount with other perks. Chicago is offering one free BMA-Chicago event with membership, says Michelle Fox, an account director at Slack and Co. Chapter-level leaders of young professional programs across the organization are developing a happy hour event at the national conference, she says. “We’ll be able to bring our young professional programs together. We’ll be able to push other chapters to see the benefit.”
The new membership rate is part of a broad BMA push to attract a new generation of marketing professionals to the organization, says Eduardo Conrado, president-BMA. “Textbooks alone are not enough to educate with the fast pace of change that we are seeing.”
The new blood also helps the association stay on top of one of the largest shifts that the marketing industry has experienced, says Rick Segal, president worldwide and chief practice officer at marketing agency gyro. He sits on the BMA board and helped create the Generation C board, a group of young professionals who help make sure that the needs of a new generation of marketers are served.
“We’re very mindful of the amount of change that the connected generation is driving,” he says. “The association was celebrating our 90th anniversary last year, and we want to ensure that we’re around for another 90 years.”
Employers and young professionals who want to take advantage of the new rate can find more information here.