The following article is the sole opinion of the Lt. Governor, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the entire District Cabinet, or of Ruritan National, although some of the ideas set forth are an interpretation of workshops and meetings about Publicity and Membership from the 2014 Ruritan National Convention in Branson MO.
An opinion from the desk of the Lt. Governor:
As the Ruritan Clubs look to their future, more members are realizing that their local clubs are at a critical crossroad, and difficult decisions must be made. Some clubs are struggling with membership loss for a variety of reasons, and are finding it challenging to recruit and maintain their clubs at charter strength. If the clubs are to survive, the clubs need to find a way to recruit and retain younger, enthusiastic, energetic members.
Those younger, energetic members, are members of the generations often referred to as the “Generation X” and “Generation Y” (or “Milleniums.”) Successfully marketing Ruritan to these groups of people is critical if the local Ruritan Clubs are going to survive.
Online published articles about marketing research about the Generation X target market, and marketing research about the Generation Y (Milleniums) from a well-respected source known as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) makes it clear that both of these generations are extremely technologically savvy, and are very involved in social media. Links to articles about that research are provided in the previous sentence; you can click on those links to see the articles.
These two generations are the real future of Ruritan. If Ruritan Clubs want to survive, then the clubs need to embrace that as the truth, and market themselves to those two generations. These generations use dynamic social media, such as Facebook, and Twitter. They are more likely to be attracted to a responsive, dynamic, blog-style webpage that has a calendar of upcoming events on the home page, categories, widgets, and frequent, updated blog posts about the most recent club happenings than they are to a static webpage that is essentially an announcement of “hey, we exist, come check us out” page that is attractive to previous generations. The blog-style webpage is similar in appearance, and feel to Facebook, and most of the people in these generations use Facebook a lot.
Static webpages have served their purpose well in the past, and it is understandable that the clubs might be reluctant to change them. After all, we are comfortable with them, they are our creations, and we hate change! But change is coming, whether we like it or not, and we must adapt, or cease to exist.
Some of the components of those static webpages can be preserved by creating a “sticky post” on the home page of the blog-style websites, but in the current Internet environment those completely static webpages are not going to perform as well in Google Search Engine Results Pages, Domain Authority Rankings, Google Page Rankings, Bing Rankings, Alexa Rankings as the newer blog-style websites will perform. The blog-style webpages, if created correctly, and maintained faithfully and correctly, will be more effective at reaching the Generation X and Y target markets.
There is no reason that a Ruritan Club cannot have multiple websites, targeting different markets! If the club already has a static webpage, and is happy with it, the club can create a new blog-style webpage and link it to a new or existing Facebook page. There is nothing that says a club can only have “one” webpage!
Many Ruritan clubs are at a crossroads. These clubs need to decide whether they want to attract younger members into the clubs so the clubs will survive, or if they want to just let the club memberships drop below charter level and eventually lose their charter. If the clubs want to attract younger members, then the clubs would be well advised to market their clubs to the technologically savvy, younger members through the Social Media that these younger members already use – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and blog-style websites in addition to newspapers, radio, television.
Resistance to evolution is futile. If Ruritan Clubs are to survive, we must study the changes and adapt to them, or we will not survive.