Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

By now, no one really disputes the fact that Odd Fellowship has been a shrinking Order, and unless we undertake some significant efforts to bring in new members, we will continue to shrink and diminish. This DMC Newsletter has been home to numerous ideas and suggestions as to how we can go about the task of re-charging our Order with new applicants and members. Here is one more idea, presented by Mel Astrahan, a member of the Grand Lodge Board of Directors.

We may agree or disagree with ideas presented in the DMC Newsletter, but it is useful and productive for us to have these ideas placed on the table for our review and discussion. DMC is a think-tank and we welcome ideas.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Deputy Grand Master

Marketing Odd Fellowship to New “Older” Members?

In discussions centering upon the revitalization of Odd Fellowship I have often heard of the desire to attract “younger” new members. In the USA life expectancy for men in 2011 was 76, and 81 for women. For the sake of this discussion I am going to somewhat arbitrarily define “young” as being less than 50 years of age and anyone 50 or greater would therefore be comparatively “old”. What do we know about this “older” population demographic? How much effort should we direct towards attracting new members from this 50+ demographic?

According to the AARP Top 10 Facts About Americans 50+: The Demographics & Interests Edition.

(1) There are 108.7 million folks age 50+. This includes 76.4 million boomers (born 1946-64), compared with 49 million Gen Xers (born early 60s to 80s) and 82 million millennials (born early 80s to 2000s).
(2) Moreover, people 50+ will continue to grow over the next decade to the tune of 19 million, vs. a growth of only 6 million for the 18-49 population.
(3) Not surprisingly, 53.5% of Americans age 50+ are women, as they live longer than men.
(4) While this age cohort is still 75% white/non-Hispanic, 10% are African American and 9% are Hispanic. By 2017 the Hispanic population will match the African American 50+ population at 12 million.
(5) The idea that a household consists of mom, dad, the two kids and a dog is long gone. The average number of persons in a 50+ household is 2.35 (the kids have left – at least for the time being).
(6) But to take up the void, 36% have dogs, 24% have cats and another 7% own other pets.
(7) 92% of Americans age 50+ still watch TV weekly, and their top weekly viewing cable networks are the History Channel, the Weather Channel, the Discovery Channel, ESPN and FOX News.
(8) But they aren’t couch potatoes, as they eat out a lot: both sit-down restaurants (78.5% in the past 30 days) and fast food (84.8%).
(9) Further, 49% have eaten at a fast food restaurant four times or more in the past 30 days. They most enjoy Chinese food when dining out.
(10) Americans 50+ enjoy going to professional sports events (30% in the past 12 months), and 20% have attended a live theater event.

What these statistics say to me is that we would indeed be wise to make a sustained effort to reach out to and attract new members from the age 50-59 demographic. This demographic is large and is likely to have the time, money and interest to devote to Odd Fellowship, and they are likely to remain with us for about a quarter century.

So, lets say we decided to actually do some marketing to try and attract new members in their 50s. Shotgun marketing is a term that is used to describe an attempt to raise awareness about a product in a large, non-specific group of people, rather than advertising to specific demographics. Just like the pellets of an actual shotgun, this marketing strategy is a single blast that affects large demographics and would be a complete waste of our money. Most modern marketing strategies use a targeted approach to reach customers. Companies conduct research to find out who is most likely to buy their products, and then customize their advertising efforts to reach those people. For instance, advertising on an over the air broadcast TV station would be of little utility, whereas advertising on the History Channel, or in an AARP publication, or in publications related to pets or fine dining might be effective ways to find some new Odd Fellows.

Another evolving possibility is to operate our own internet streaming TV channel. On the Roku streaming TV device there are now over 1500 channels. Channels are free. Some are operated by churches (e.g. LDS). Streaming is the long range future of TV. For example, most of today’s college students watch streaming TV rather than over-air or cable. This approach might be the best way to reach the under 35 demographic. The advantage of running our own TV channel, vs advertising on an established channel that targets a specific demographic, is that we pay nothing for advertising. The disadvantage is that we have to broadcast content that will induce the demographic we are targeting to “tune-in”. I offer no simple solution, just some ideas to consider and experiment with.

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