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Tech a Step Forward: What the technology generation expects from your association

January 1, 2008

by Ryan J. Tucholski, RCE, AE of the 930-member Lakeland Association of Realtors®, Fla.

The first question you ask yourself when incorporating new technology may be, “What do Generation X and Y members want?” If the answer is daily RSS feeds of association news and education schedules delivered through iPhones, will you be ready?

Let’s take a quick look at the young member demographic. We know that Generation X and Y members are looking for networking events, educational opportunities, and information to benefit their bottom line and contribute to their personal quality of life. So how do we effectively get the message out that those experiences are available to them at their Realtor® association?

Surely the answer requires a close look at all your communication, marketing, and branding efforts, but technology can play a large part. At the Lakeland Association of Realtors®, I’ve found that broadcast text messages, such as “Register for the luncheon today at the board office,” through a simple mass text messaging program are incredibly successful, simple, and clear.

Taking bold steps to eliminate the paper newsletter not only is a great way to reduce waste from our printing budgets and the earth, but also gives us the ability to work under better timelines and, in rare cases, make corrections.

Other ways to incorporate technology to appeal to the younger member are having a video or audio feed of the weekly association news rather than a plain text e-mail broadcast, which is typically a mile long. Members love to watch and listen, rather than read.

Association executives trying to implement new technology to appeal to their newer and younger members can take it from me, a “tech generation” AE, that the key is to boldly stride forward and adopt new technologies fully, but do so with a plan.

Take my small association, for example. I’ve moved most print communications to e-mail and taken the leap to provide my leadership with information solely on a technology platform—no meetings, just text messaging and e-mail.

The best part about these tactics is that my membership and leadership are responding comfortably and with open arms. I now have big dreams of e-meetings, virtual trade shows, weekly video newsletters, and live support via our association Web site.

The solution is simple and clear. Have a technology strategic plan for your association, and actually implement it. Also use the NAR Center for -Realtor® Technology and ask for opinions on best practices, or even explanations of what our members are asking for. And finally, don’t be afraid. Jump into the technology pool. The old excuse of “I don’t work well with computers” is no longer allowed or tolerated. Just ask some of your new members. n

RESOURCES
• “Technology Strategic Plans: Helping associations get a firm grip on their technology future,” RAE Spring 2002, REALTOR.org/RAE
• Samples of Realtor® association strategic plans on the Realtor® Association Resource Exchange, REALTOR.org search “RARE”