Can Associations Outperform For Profit Competitors? Until recently, Associations competed for membership, product, conference and service dollars in a limited universe. As for profit companies and not for profit organizations scour the landscape to identify and expand into new markets, they are competing head to head with Associations. While different sectors report varying degrees of competition, the health care segment is especially seeing its share of competitors.
A number of Associations (http://bit.ly/1clxzHp) are primarily experiencing lower conference attendance and reduced profits. However, in several cases, competition from for profit firms now include products and services as well.
Law Changes Open doors to Competitors
Fred Somers, Executive Director, The American Occupational Therapy Association (www.aota.org), a nearly 50,000 member National Professional association, sees competitors on the for profit and nonprofit front. In this and potentially other instances, the enactment of the Affordable Care Act may have opened up new opportunities for competitors.
For AOTA, competition in areas that include publishing, professional development and continuing education are part of the new competitive landscape. Regardless, Somers convincingly asserts that his Association maintains significant competitive advantages.
Win by Playing to Your Strength
Professional Society focused entities like AOTA carry considerable competitive advantages. Having considerable bodies of knowledge, long lasting relationships in the educational community and the membership can be quite advantageous. AOTA, similar to other health care related Associations, have research data and practice experience that in many cases span decades. Although for profit companies and even new nonprofit entities may bring strong marketing, they still lack the data and strong connection to a loyal and committed membership base.
Play The Hand Your Dealt
Knowing what levers are available can also make a difference. Associations have unique facets they can easily leverage into marketing and growth opportunities when necessary. Especially in the health care segment, Associations can rely on one of their core constituencies to achieve the marketing equivalent of a hole in one.
Can Associations Outperform For Profit Competitors?
As the economy slowly improves from the great recession of 2008, Associations are seeing the playing field for fewer discretionary dollars expand well beyond membership. Everything from conferences, publications, products and services are now in play. Aggressive for profit competitors are leveraging their extensive resources However, the new competitive challenges facing Associations may be opportunities instead.
AOTA, similar to other successful Associations and Professional Societies, is transforming competitive threats into market growth opportunities.
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