Members Hire Associations, Members Fire Associations

Members hire associations

Members hire Associations, Members fire Associations is what the new mantra will be for Association Executives in 2018. The evolving external environment is continually redefining how member executives assess the impact of their memberships. At year end 2017, Association Executives would find it useful to see the world as their members do and understand what help they need to make progress in their Industry or Profession. While economists forecast a brighter global growth picture, your members still face a myriad of uncertainty. Cyber & nuclear threats, disruptive innovation, and increasing competition for market share will continue to reshape how members view their memberships. This means organizations will require new and different external research to understand what tools they must provide in order to help their members make progress.

Members Hire Associations, Members Fire Associations

Since the end of the great recession, Boards are helping their Associations see the world as they see it. Pushing an all you can eat buffet as your value proposition is now the dark ages. Even connectivity to business and professional challenges and providing immediate solutions represent a smaller fraction of evolving member expectations. In other words, if your Association is not perceived as a vehicle to help drive progress for your members and prospective members then your organization:

  1. Will likely be fired by your members.
  2. Will not be hired by your prospective members.

In 2018 the new mantra will be: Members hire Associations, Members fire Associations.

Research Keeps Associations Connected to Member Problems that Need to Be Solved

For organizational CEO’s embracing the new marketplace that Members hire Associations, Members fire Associations you’ve taken an important first step. As Boards insist upon more operational rigor at their Associations, they are turning to externally focused and segmented research. This data is playing an increasingly important role in strategic planning and product development. In several cases, Association CEO’s are assessing strategies, products, & services as for profit executives do at global enterprises.

The National Association of Independent Schools

NAIS is a nonprofit membership association that provides services to more than 1,800 schools and associations of schools in the United States and abroad, including more than 1,500 independent private K-12 schools in the U.S.


Members hire associationsAs the new NAIS President, Donna Orem, her Board, and her team set out to build a segmented research study to profile the market of Private Schools. Their research identified four segments in their marketplace. What they learned was how each segment differs in terms of goals they hope to achieve, professional needs, and demographic characteristics. While each segment presented different implications, NAIS leveraged Board guidance and took to address the differences in each member segment. This work only took them so far, however. After learning from a board member about the Jobs To Be Done framework, the board and leadership team agreed that this approach, which explores what causes someone to hire or fire a product or service, could provide even more actionable insights.

“Jobs to Be Done” Approach

Harvard Professor Clayton M. Christiansen has researched what makes businesses successful in his over twenty years of teaching at Harvard Business School.  He is most well known for creating the theory of Disruptive Innovation. He put forth the “Jobs To Be Done” Approach in his recent book Competing Against Luck.  The underlying premise is that in today’s marketplace “people no longer buy products or services. Instead they hire them to make progress.” The NAIS team utilized this approach to develop value propositions that addressed the struggles that heads of schools and administrators face and to understand how those struggles change as they progress through their careers.

The process changed the way the organization and the Board develops and delivers value to their members, and redefined how the Association thinks from strategy through implementation.

NAIS is already utilizing their newly minted strategies to retain and acquire new members and accordingly Donna Orem notes, “We found the JTBD work to be transformational.”

Club Managers Association of America

The Club Managers Association of America (CMAA) is the professional Association for managers of membership clubs. CMAA has close to 6,700 members across all classifications.


Members hire associationsFor Jeff Morgan & his team, it’s imperative to have a business minded research systematic approach in product management and strategy. They utilize approaches developed management consulting firms including the Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey, Ansoff, and Blue Ocean Strategy. Their assessment process helps the CMAA team reach a “problems to be solved” determination on each of their products:

 

  • Ensure the Association is serving its members (Mission)
  • Make better (supportable) strategic decisions
  • Help to prune portfolio of products to make room for new ones
  • Improve internal resource allocation
  • Product-lifecycle focus
  • Strategy alignment (internally/externally)

These steps have helped CMAA deliver increased strategic and operational rigor to their product management approaches. The process has been “an integral part of how the organization delivers increasing value to Club Management Professionals at each stage of their careers.”

American Bakers Association

The American Bakers Association (ABA) is the Washington D.C. based voice of the wholesale baking industry. ABA represents the interests of bakers before the U.S. Congress, federal agencies, and international regulatory authorities. ABA advocates on behalf of more than 1,000 baking facilities and baking company suppliers.


energizing member engagementRobb MacKie, President & CEO sees the Baking Industry experiencing unprecedented disruption and evolving consumer attitudes. Determined to identify a “problems to be solved approach,” they launched a research based strategic planning process. What’s different about it is how the process is geared toward an external perspective of business challenges and how ABA could accelerate its impact on all segments of the Baking Industry. The Association also seeks to determine how they can continually increase their alignment with the Industry they serve.

Similar to NAIS and CMAA, ABA’s business focus is drawn partially from leading business authors including Chris Zook, “Profit From The Core. Growth Strategy In An Era of Turbulence.”  Through this process Robb Mackie, the Board, and the Senior Team have surfaced & identified the core challenges and problems to be solved for the Industry today. Their focus is to build a new and more nimble strategy that continually aligns ABA with the Baking Industry.

Part of ABA’s Operational Rigor includes an evaluation and assessment planning process to ensure that the organization is best positioned to address & solve Industry problems for the members:

  • Sunsetting process to identify their noncore products
  • Operational Readiness Assessment on existing & New Core Products
  • Developing Metrics to measure new product & service impact on Industry Business & Growth Challenges

Because of externally focused and segmented research, NAIS, CMAA, and ABA have greater understanding into what’s next for Associations,  Members Hire Associations, Members Fire Associations.

Ongoing Alignment Test: Members Hire Associations, Members Fire Associations 

Part of the next evolution of Association strategic planning and product development is how externally focused and segmented research is driving strategy and implementation to help members solve their problems.

Members hire associationsEarlier this year, NPES launched an ambitious strategic plan to align and grow the global printing and imaging Industry. As part of its strategic overhaul Thayer Long, President, is focusing the organization to more quickly and readily adapt to emerging Industry challenges. He sees ongoing research as necessary to maintain ongoing alignment with the members. Through ongoing research NPES is increasing its understanding of why members hire/fire Associations. For example, the Association now:

  • Maintains an Alignment dashboard focused on Industry performance.
  • Conducts an annual Industry Alignment survey research to measure its impact on the problems that need to be solved.

Having this additional research will help NPES and other organizations who are embracing the new reality: Members hire Associations, Members fire Associations.

Members Hire Associations, Members Fire Associations

Strategic planning and product development are rapidly changing. These are not just one time exercises. Instead, its ongoing research that will continually help to identify member problems that need to be solved. It’s more comprehensive and it requires drilling down through segmented qualitative and quantitative research to surface the member problems that need to be solved.  This is a four step process that will position Associations to drive ongoing progress for its members:

Members hire associations

As the curtain rises in 2018 the new reality is Members hire Associations, Members fire Associations.  Adjusting to the new reality requires externally focused and segmented research that helps your organization understand what help members need in order to make progress. Welcome to 2018: Members hire Associations, Members fire Associations.

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Association Supply Chain Advocacy

Association Supply Chain Advocacy

Association Supply Chain Advocacy can be a game changer for members. By uniting the Supply Chain through Associations members can better influence the destiny of their company and their Industry in ways they could not do on their own. Getting and bringing an entire Supply Chain to the table at an Association is a heavy lift but the long term impact will make the effort yield substantial member ROI.

Association Supply Chain Advocacy is Fueled by Actionable Research

Organizing a robust data collection process that includes Associations in the Supply Chain will build actionable information. Having this research will create proactive opportunities to build a collaborative Association Supply Chain Engagement Strategy with Board, Senior Staff, and other Associations from the Supply Chain that includes:

  1. Comprehensive Industry Research – Supply Chain Interviews and survey research including segmented business challenges and growth opportunities.
  2. Industry Brainstorming – Creating new and unique activities for the Supply Chain to collaborate and create a growth focused business environment.
  3. Industry Planning & Roadmap – Highly focused and measurable activities that are continually evaluated by the Industry Supply Chain.

These steps build a plan that identifies the role that each Association in the Supply Chain plays in carrying out its Advocacy Strategy.  Instead of a competing with each other, Associations transform into Supply Chain collaborators. In this scenario each Association in the supply chain has clearly established roles, deliverables, and accountability for Industry Advocacy outcomes.

Association Supply Chain Advocacy Equals More Concentrated Effort to Mitigate Emerging Industry Challenges

In a dynamic global economy, new impediments and opportunities will continually surface. Having an Association Supply Chain Advocacy Strategy positions Industries to more quickly and effectively respond. For example, threats in States and in local government are an increasing part of Advocacy strategies. Bringing the impact of an Industry with an Association Supply Chain accelerates response time and improves chances of success.

Recently, the Soft Drink Industry faced an onslaught of proposed Soda Taxes in Santa Fe, New Mexico and in Cook County, Illinois. An impressive advocacy strategy by the American Beverage Association helped the Industry beat back local efforts to impose new taxes that would have been harmful. Unfortunately, this is just a beginning as warning signs point to an increasing amount of challenges from State and Local government. If Associations have members who manufacture and sell products in global markets, then they too will face regulatory and product standards challenges.

Association Supply Chain Advocacy Means Doing Fewer Things Exceptionally Well

As Boards define future success measurements for Associations, it’s a safe bet that they will want fewer activities that require less time and money. Operating margins are a continual focus for Executives and demonstrating increasing levels of efficiency is something they expect. Since Advocacy is a core component of Associations (especially Trade Associations), this integrated approach will be well received. This likely means doing fewer things exceptionally well because your Association may eliminate activities not connected to the Advocacy core.

Association Supply Chain Advocacy is Already Underway

Associations are delivering direct returns on Supply Chain Advocacy through highly focused Advocacy activities:

American Bakers Association – Through the Grain Chain the ABA utilizes direct Industry engagement to surface and address regulatory and legislative matters that add costs to the Baking Industry. The Association published an annual ROI report to highlight their Supply Chain Advocacy.

Jewelers of America – Working through the Industry Supply Chain, JA positions its advocacy to work to continually assess risk and maintain consumer confidence. The Board and the members view the Association as their vehicle to drive results that support their business outcomes.

National Marine Manufacturers Association – The Association effectively utilizes an impressive supply chain advocacy approach to continuously help the Recreational Boating industry keep costs in line.

Global Cold Chain Alliance –  Through its Strategic Planning process the Board asked GCCA to play a role in reducing the costs of regulatory compliance. The organization has forged relationships with regulatory agencies that have led in some situations to lower costs of compliance.

NPES –  Advocacy is one of the key vehicles connecting global print equipment manufacturers and suppliers with its customers. Through an external working group, NPES is linking all aspects of the Industry Supply Chain to help the Industry impact its business challenges and outcomes.

Association Supply Chain Advocacy

Eliminating competitive boundaries between Associations in the Supply Chain helps Industries address emerging threats from Federal, State, and Local Government through a heavily concentrated Advocacy Strategy. What’s more this strategic approach helps Associations increase their relevance by accelerating Industry impact in the marketplace. As Board Leaders seek greater efficiency and solutions to their business challenges, they expect all organizations to work together for the good of the Industry. Meeting this new reality is a hand and glove strategy for Associations who want to energize member engagement and increase Advocacy Impact for their members. This could be the dawn of Member Engagement 3.0.

Association Supply Chain AdvocacyClick here to receive your free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement”

Energizing Member Engagement

energize member engagement

Driving Sustainable Industry Growth Helps Trade Associations Energize Member Engagement 

With global economic uncertainty dominating most conversations, we’re learning that Trade Associations who drive sustainable industry growth are helping their organizations by energizing member engagement. Forward thinking CEO’s are utilizing Strategic Planning or Business and Engagement Planning to research Industry challenges and Business outcomes and then identify their Associations as extensions of Industries. By following this approach these Association Executives are now energizing member engagement.

Global Uncertainty is Not Going Away  

energizing member engagement

Despite eight plus years of growth in the United States and improving economic performance in Europe, challenges remain. A second quarter survey conducted by the Association of Finance Professionals reflects some of these concerns. According to the recently released results, “treasury & finance professionals remained apprehensive about the economy, and similar to last quarter, their organizations accumulated cash and short‐term investment holdings in response.”

Mixed Bag for Global Manufacturers

Although global manufacturers are experiencing improving conditions, there are reasons to maintain caution according to Chad Moutray, Energizing member engagementChief Economist for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). “It is clear that the global manufacturing sector has turned a corner, with improvements in demand and production seen in many key markets. As a result, the manufacturer outlook remains quite elevated and exports have increased this year – a nice turnaround after numerous challenges cited in the past two years. Yet, even with progress, business leaders are anxious for pro-growth policy changes, and geopolitical worries are also a constant source of uncertainty.”

Energizing Member Engagement is a Must for Trade Associations 

Regardless of global uncertainty, company executives face increasing pressure to deliver top line growth and earnings performance. How do Trade Associations utilize these factors to energize member engagement? By building Trade Associations that Drive Sustained Industry Growth.  Energizing member engagement in today’s world is so much more a journey than a destination. Why? Based on the current trajectory the complexity of Industry Growth Challenges will only increase. This means that Trade Association CEO’s who perceive these growth challenges as opportunistic for their organizations are on target to align themselves with the Industry challenges and Business outcomes that their members care the most about. In doing so, energizing member engagement becomes more about Industry Growth than it does about Trade Association performance.

Energizing Member Engagement Means You Are an Industry Growth Advocate

If members perceive your Trade Association as focused on what it must achieve instead of what the Industry must achieve, they are heading for the exit ramp. Organizations who want to energize member engagement must reposition the organization as an Industry growth advocate. This shifts the conversation, and demonstrates the return on member engagement that your members insist upon in an uncertain global environment.

Geopolitical uncertainty and technological disruption are dramatically changing Traditional Trade Association Strategic Planning processes. Static three year Strategic Plans are being replaced with a nimbler Business or Engagement Planning regimen.  It’s now about becoming an Industry Growth Advocate through a 3 step process involving direct engagement of your board, your members, Industry Suppliers, and Industry Customers that requires:

  1. Industry Survey Research – Comprehensive and segmented understanding of the challenges and growth opportunities in the Industry.
  2. Industry Brainstorming – Collaboration among your Board of Directors with your staff team to generate new ideas and approaches to address challenges and move the needle for the Industry.
  3. Industry Business & Engagement Planning – More Board collaboration to construct a nimble Business and engagement plan to address challenges and grow the Industry.

Once all the steps are completed, your organization is positioned as a flexible and thoughtful “Industry Growth” advocate.

Energizing Member Engagement

Why Your Trade Association Should Consider This Approach and Energize Member Engagement

It provides 3 reasons why your organizations should utilize this approach to Building Trade Associations that Drive Sustained Industry Growth:

  1. An actionable and data driven business plan reflecting the Industry’s challenges and desired Business outcomes.
  2. A more closely aligned organization connected with the Industry’s challenges and business outcomes.
  3. It delivers an environment where energizing member engagement becomes more likely.

CEO’s Who are Building Trade Associations that Drive Sustained Industry Growth & They Are Energizing Member Engagement

energizing member engagement

 

 

 

energizing member engagementCorey Rosenbusch, President & CEO, Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA) notes, “the impact beyond driving revenue was shifting our mindset and Strategic Plan from an inward focus to an outward focus, with an intended impact on member’s Business outcomes.” The organization’s mission now is to “grow the Industry and lead the cold chain.”

GCCA reinforces their plan to “Grow The Industry, Lead The Cold Chain, Develop Talent and Drive Supply Chain Profitability” with Key Performance Indicators. The Association is continually reinforcing its commitment to growth of the Industry. Two years ago, GCCA and United Fresh launched a Global Cold Chain Expo bringing customers together with Industries that are engaged in temperature controlled logistics. The organization is also launching an Industry customer survey to inform their members on current and emerging trends in food storage and logistics.

One of GCCA’s goals is to “Drive Supply chain profitability and do so by mitigating the cost of regulatory compliance.” The chart below will show how their Industry focus helped to achieve a decrease in the number of violations and OSHA fines per inspection.

energizing member engagement

 

Two years after their plan was approved, the Trade Association reports a 25% increase in revenue.

energizing member engagement

 

 

 

energizing member engagementThayer Long, President, NPES, The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies, sought a data driven approach in order to energize member engagement by connecting his organization with Industry Challenges and outcomes. Reflecting upon the process, he notes “Our team is aligning itself with Industry and the entire value chain. Through this process we are well situated to have a major impact on Industry outcomes and results. We now can become the leader which our members and the industry need.”

NPES and its Board developed a Business plan geared toward moving the needle for the Industry. Leveraging Industry and Customer Survey Research the Staff Team and Board of Directors established 2 top priorities to help the industry improve its operating excellence and grow its top line revenue.

energizing member engagement

Along with his Senior Team, Thayer Long is also building a dashboard to serve as an Industry Alignment Index.  NPES will utilize these metrics and annual survey research to ensure that it remains laser focused on helping and supporting Industry growth.

energizing member engagement

 

 

energizing member engagement

 

energizing member engagement

In one of the oldest and most vital industrial segments, Bakers, Suppliers, and Retailers are seeking ways to achieve growth in a changing environment. The Baking Industry is an important driver of economic activity. Currently, it generates over $153 billion in economic activity annually with an employment base of 799,000 skilled people. In a period of disruption and evolving customer attitudes, the Association sought a data driven planning process to help them uncover future opportunities for the Baking Industry. From market disruption to evolving consumer attitudes, Robb MacKie, President & CEO of ABA sees a data driven planning and engagement process as essential for the Trade Association and for the Baking Industry.

Recently an ABA Task Force reviewed Industry Survey Data and Robb Mackie indicated that in an uncertain Business environment, “We needed to uncover critical challenges and new opportunities to support our Industry. Our Board Task Force is very impressed by the candor of our discussions and appreciates having an opportunity to identify new and different ways to help them achieve success.”

Energizing Member Engagement

For the Global Cold Chain Alliance, NPES, and the American Bakers Association energizing member engagement is connected to building Trade Associations that Drive Sustained Industry Growth. Utilizing Industry Survey Research, Industry Brainstorming, and an Industry Business and Engagement Planning approach, these Trade Associations are aligned with Industry Business Challenges and Growth Outcomes. In doing so, energizing member engagement and increasing Executive participation is much more likely.

This article reflects key insights shared by the participants (referenced in the article) and moderator (the author) at the “Building Trade Associations that Drive Sustained Industry Growth” Panel at the Council of Manufacturing Associations Summer Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, August 4, 2017. #NAMCMA. Left to right: Panel Moderator, Daniel A. Varroney, President & CEO, Potomac Core – Association Consulting, Panelists & CMA Members, Corey Rosenbusch, President & CEO, Global Cold Chain Alliance, Thayer Long, President, NPES, and Robb MacKie, President & CEO, American Bakers Association. 

 

energizing member engagement

 

 

Click here to receive your free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement”

 

Data Driven Engagement

data driven engagment

Data Driven Engagement is the best bet for Associations seeking to accelerate member engagement. Getting and keeping members engaged will be even more challenging. Economic uncertainty stemming from political gridlock and geopolitical risk remains widespread as corporations continue to increase their cash reserves at a “faster rate than expected.” According to a survey conducted by the Association of Financial Professionals (AFP), “This marks the fifth consecutive quarter where organizations accumulated cash at a greater rate than they anticipated entering the quarter.” This means your Association needs to build strategies that help your members achieve their business and professional outcomes.

Rapidly Evolving Expectations

As corporations hold onto even more cash, Associations will need to dig deeper to understand what different segments of their membership need to either impact their career or their member’s business growth outcomes. In today’s world, many members are not interested in the standard and bundled benefits package. They are looking for opportunities to learn and share knowledge in the morning that they can apply later that afternoon. This requires a focused and Data Driven Engagement strategy.

One Size Fits None

 If Data Driven Engagement is the objective, then having the research to shape your decisions are critical to your Association’s success. Your organization should begin with a professional survey utilizing a Data Scientist. Why? This will help your Association obtain the actionable information that it needs to develop targeted, focused, segmented, and meaningful strategies.

This segmented audience profile will provide actionable information that guides your Association to:

  • Begin to understand each segment’s Professional Business outcomes & priorities.
  • Determine how members participate with your Association today.
  • Surface how they utilize social media to obtain or share knowledge.
  • Identify the Business & Professional outcomes they seek.
  • Determine whether they see a connection between their participation and the outcomes they must achieve.
  • See where else your members consume information and share knowledge.

Your Data Driven research should also determine:

  • Company size & location
  • Member role
  • Scope of member responsibility

Data Driven Engagement And Member Segmentation

Data Driven Engagement starts with developing member segmented profiles. Look for the career and Professional segments needed to address challenges and to work together with their peers to build solutions to Industry challenges. In doing so, you will lay the groundwork to create a unique experience for your members. Starting with your membership, you will be able to identify key trends and characteristics that can be developed into specific go to market strategies. Once you complete segmented member profiles you can utilize the same process for your prospective members.

data dri

Segmented Communication and Engagement Tactics

Data Driven Engagement takes shape as your Association develops your communication and engagement strategies by specific member segment. With your professional research and segmented profiles, your organization is on its way to developed the appropriate strategies to attract and accelerate member engagement.

Data Driven Engagement Strategies by Career Stage 

 Your Association can also utilize Data Driven Engagement strategies to structure and implement educational offerings. While most associations have educational offerings, they are not targeted to the needs of members at varying stages of their career. At each stage, there may be Professional developmental opportunities that members might obtain through your organizations training curriculum. That means your Association may have considerable opportunities to provide added value by creating programs that advance careers and help drive business outcomes for their companies.

Utilizing a Data Driven Engagement strategy, your Association is positioned to construct a career stage model to impact careers and increase the return on member engagement:

data driven engagement

Professional Development Solutions Provider

Organizations nowadays also have more opportunities to serve their membership as “Professional Development Solutions Providers.” For example, through a merger of the American Bakers Association and the Biscuit and Cracker Manufacturers’ Association, a “Cookie and Cracker Academy” was established. “The merger has given us an exciting opportunity to continue to enhance and develop an already impressive educational program that serves the needs of the membership,” said ABA President & CEO Robb MacKie. The program provides:

  • Entry Level Training Program– Addresses individuals new to the Industry by teaching the fundamentals all employees must know to work in a manufacturing environment.
  • The Intermediate Training Course – Offering expanded operations oriented instruction which is based on specific product types and/or the equipment used to produce it.
  • Experienced Professionals – Can utilize advanced instruction with the Cookie & Cracker Manufacturing Course, which includes the science and theory underpinning the complete process.

Utilizing Data Driven Engagement, ABA is utilizing Professional survey research to continue to hone & customize training options for Cookie and Cracker professionals.

Data Driven Engagement

Global uncertainty is still the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room for corporate decision makers.  According to S&P Global, Corporate Cash has reached $1.9 Trillion and Chief Financial Officers are hoarding even more cash. Executives won’t engage unless the activity helps them learn something that morning that they can apply that afternoon. If your Association is committed to accelerating member engagement, it will require a comprehensive Data Driven Engagement planning and implementation strategy.

data driven engagement

 

 

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Compelling Member Engagement

Compelling Member Engagement

Polarization in Washington, DC, and market disruption are opening doors for Associations to create more compelling member engagement experiences for their members. Associations can be more proactive and less reactive by providing more opportunities for their members to share knowledge and build new solutions that drive business and professional outcomes.

Compelling Member Engagement Using “Pull” and “Push” 

The customary approach for associations is to seek out knowledge experts and then “push” that person’s knowledge out to the masses via educational programs, newsletters, and journals. Today’s associations who view their role as the integrator, aggregator, curator and enabler are creating more compelling member engagement experiences. This is accomplished by “pulling” members together and facilitating the sharing of knowledge so that innovative solutions are created to address shared challenges and opportunities. The “push” and “pull” doctrine means that your association:

  • Captures the insights of many members and stakeholders.
  • Provides the tools that enable members to tap into the collective knowledge of the critical insights as soon as they need them.

Surface Critical Challenges That Must Be Addressed

Your organizations can utilize focus groups and survey research to pinpoint industry and professional challenges that must be addressed. This means utilizing survey instruments that identify member “up at night” issues and then engaging your board and key volunteer leaders to understand the full impact of what is learned and how it can be applied successfully to impact professions and drive business outcomes. Having research based conclusions is an essential part of creating a more compelling member engagement.

Identify Who Most Wants to Contribute and Collaborate  

Being able to pinpoint those members who want to most contribute and collaborate will help your association build the more compelling member engagement experiences. In the strategic member engagement survey released in 2014, those associations and professional societies who report that they can identify member segments that want to contribute and collaborate more often:

  • Have a board that understands and strategizes about core member needs to a “very high” degree.
  • Report an upward trend in 3-year annual revenue.

Applying the Pull and Push Doctrine at Your Association

Since association boards and CEO’s want their organization to be more pro-active and less reactive, the push and pull doctrine is increasingly important. What’s more important is how your association transforms from a reactive to a proactive posture in relatively short period of time. Utilizing this box, you can reposition products or services to become more timely and impactful to member’s professional challenges and business growth outcomes. 

Compelling Member Engagement

Case Study – Creating More Compelling Member Engagement

compelling member engagementThe American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy based in Alexandria, Virginia has 25,000 members that fall into three core groups: Academics, Agency, and Private Practice. The Profession utilizes the organization as its platform to advance the Profession and practice of marriage and family therapy. According to Tracy Todd, Chief Executive Officer of AAMFT, the starting point for critical therapy topics (“push”) for their members include that the Association and its online community:

  • A primary source of information for consumers.
  • Therapists utilize the site to market their practice.
  • Support the reputation of marriage and family therapists through AAMFT.

In today’s dynamic environment topical, needs evolved much more quickly and the online community fell out of date, driving member resentment and caused the organization to lose revenue.

AAMFT – “Pull” and “Push” to Energize Member Engagement

“Pull” 

Crowdsourced topics and sought input on topics from Members and:

  • Sought editors and contributors, and facilitated knowledge sharing conversations per subject matter area

“Push”

Used subject matter experts in groups to develop thought leadership pushed out to members on-demand including:

  • Fact sheets/brochures and current information

Outcomes

Created more compelling member engagement experiences:

  • Accelerated credibility of the Profession among members and consumers
  • Member feedback included “Nice to see AAMFT using member expertise” and “Thank you for helping AAMFT to open itself up for input.”

Identifying and Responding to Industry Disruptors

Compelling Member EngagementThe “push” and “pull” doctrine can also be utilized as a strategy to help identify and respond to industry disruptors. Associations can utilize industry market research to surface new trends to surface potential disruptors. For example, NPES, through its PRIMR product is effectively engaging the industry’s value chain to uncover challenges and potential opportunities by:

  • Expanding involvement of Printers and Advertising Agencies
  • Involving Brand Owners in the research program
  • Including research with case studies on the effectiveness of print
  • Create and formatting research for “action”

Compelling Member Engagement

While advocacy, education, and information are staple association offerings, it’s not enough to drive more compelling member engagement experiences in today’s complex environment. Research shows that organizations who utilize the doctrine of “pull” and “push” can accelerate member engagement and improve their operating performance. The national associations in the Strategic Member Engagement Survey most often reported an upward 3-year trend in: Member Retention, Annual Operating Revenue Registrations to the Primary Annual Meeting, Annual Revenue from Fee-for-Service Offerings, and Timely Membership Renewals.

compelling member engagement

 

 

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Just Another Association

just another association

Strive to Be More Than Just Another Association 

Associations who seek to grow or expand revenues need to be more than just another association. In today’s uncertain global business environment, associations must be perceived as extensions of company and industry business strategies and not be just another association. Those who are aligned with business challenges and outcomes are relevant because they relate to what really matters. Having this connectivity is the critical ingredient to making your association durable and more able to grow revenue.

Inside Out Means Your Just Another Association

Despite more robust economic growth forecasts, companies still face regulatory hurdles, changing consumer sentiments, and disruptive market forces. The “internet of everything” is lowering the barrier of entry for all products and services and reshaping how consumers make their purchasing decisions. Traditional food retailers are addressing loss in foot traffic as health focused consumers seek out online “farm to fork” retailers. The insurance industry sees its consumers seeking out lower cost options for life, property, and casualty insurance coverage.

Being just another association means that members perceive your organization as focused on what it needs instead of helping the members and their companies, professions or industries achieve their outcomes. Since your members have more options than ever to consume new solutions, it’s a matter of time before they vote with their feet and go somewhere else. If your association wants to grow revenues then it must shift its focus to an industry or profession perspective. Organizations who transform and become strategic allies are better positioned to address member challenges and therefore be more likely to grow revenue.

Strategic Growth and Development

Hiring marketing or sales firms at the onset isn’t the right approach. After all, selling louder and selling more is a risky short term approach. While you may see revenue growth in the short term, the next economic downturn could deliver a volcano sized wallop to your operating performance.

Just another associationIf an organization wishes to grow then its strategies, products, and services must be formulated around industry or profession challenges and outcomes. This is an outside in approach that will better position your association. Strategic growth and development is a longer term approach that connects your organization with the things that your members care about.

3 Steps Driving Strategic Growth and Development

Building new strategies is all about what we do together. Engaging your board and letting them know the process is about their industry challenges and outcomes is the right first step. Today’s board members are different. They are busier and more likely to give precious time to those efforts that help drive industry or profession success. Utilizing your senior staff team and your board your association is ready to begin its strategic growth and development journey.

  1. Identify Actionable Needs

Avoid the pitfalls of satisfaction surveys. Organizations utilizing satisfaction surveys are more likely perceived by their members as just another association. Members don’t care about your association’s “outputs”. They only care about “outcomes” that address their business/ professional challenges and opportunities. Everything else is just noise. Going back to your board with high satisfaction scores while they face increasingly more challenges will send them to the exits. Develop an externally focused industry or profession survey helps to understand the challenges they face and the solutions they require.

Case Study:

Just Another AssociationIn December 2016, the Society for Vascular Ultrasound, in Lanham, Maryland utilized a Member Impact Survey to help its board and staff team identify the profession’s up at night challenges and opportunities. While survey participation is usually in the 2% to 4% range, 15% of the Society’s members participated. The results provided actionable data on the critical concerns that matter most to those involved in the Vascular Technology Profession. SVU Executive Director James Wilkinson notes “this data-driven process helped us determine how to move the needle for our professionals. It also helped us arrive at a strategic roadmap that will increase the relevance of our niche field and allow our professionals to take their careers to the next level. “

  1. Develop Unique Products: Address Industry & Profession Challenges with Real Solutions

Members will contribute time, knowledge and ideas when they perceive an opportunity to impact the outcomes they seek. Making this happens means that you must change the conversation from association “outputs” to business or profession “outcomes”.

Focusing on member outcomes will drive development of the best outputs, not the other way around.

Case Study:

Just Another AssociationAs part of its strategic plan work Reston, Virginia based NPES affirmed the need to deliver actionable Industry Research for Global Print Manufacturers, Printers, and the Brand Owners. The Industry needs research that provides actionable data for immediate implementation for the Industry’s value chain. In formulating this strategy, the board and the members also expressed interest in the following activities that would drive their global business outcomes:

  • Expand involvement of Printers and Advertising Agencies
  • Engage Brand Owners in research program
  • Include research with case studies on the effectiveness of print
  • Create and format research for “action”
  • Develop new partners with providers of groundbreaking Industry Research and Market Data
  • Create high level of engagement End-Users, Advertising Agencies
    and OEM’s to knowledge share

“We are aligning ourselves with industry and the entire value chain. As a result, we are well situated now to have a major impact on industry outcomes and results. We now can become the leader which our members and the industry need” says Thayer Long, NPES President.

  1. Apply the Doctrine of the Differentiated Experience

The real power of associations is about facilitating the creation of new solutions to address evolving member challenges and objectives. Created a differentiated experience means engaging your members in ways that facilitate knowledge-sharing and collaboration with other members. This means your members are more connected. If they are you can track how your member’s knowledge contributions to collaboration with the industry or the profession and helps them feel more connected to your association.

Case Study:

Just Another AssociationThe Alexandria, Virginia based American Staffing Association continually accelerates its relevance and the unique experiences for its member professionals. As reported in the November – December 2016 edition of Staffing Success, ASA is creating opportunities for their members to learn about technology solutions and participate in knowledge sharing. The Association uncovered the opportunity through an up-at-night issue survey where members and managers expressed interest in this this type of engagement. The organization is establishing task forces to keep the industry connected to new technology trends to support its ongoing efforts to formulate new levels of thought leadership and industry peer to peer knowledge exchange. In doing so, ASA is increasing its member’s level of connectedness with the organization.

Just Another Association

Increasing top line revenue is not a function of selling more or selling louder it’s all about how your association is at the heart of the of the industry or profession that you serve.  Identifying actionable needs, developing unique products: Addressing Industry & Profession Challenges with Real Solutions, & applying the Doctrine of the Differentiated Experience helps you to create a roadmap that leads to Strategic Growth & Development. How will you and your team know that you are ready to drive revenue growth? Your board and your members will view your association as an extension of their business strategies. This also means that you are not just another association.

just another association

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

Stop Selling Stuff

stop selling stuff

At the start of your board meetings do board members ask themselves “I hope they try selling stuff today?” Of course not. If anything, they want your organization to stop selling stuff. In today’s disruptive environment they are preoccupied with their business challenges and global uncertainty. Hearing endless staff reports and selling stuff is not where they are at anymore.  Today’s board members want strategic meetings focused on their external challenges and they want their Associations to help them address these challenges.

Please Stop Selling Stuff

When your Trade Association was launched, your founders were focused on how an organization could address business challenges and achieve specific outcomes.  They believed a combined effort would accomplish more as an industry or a profession that they could on their own. It’s a safe bet that your founders never imagined that they should hire staff to “sell us stuff” at board meetings. 

Board Members Tuning Out

stop selling stuffEveryone listens to their favorite radio stationWIIFM,” What’s in It for Me. If you observe several board members staring at their mobile devices or texting during your meetings, they’ve already switched channels. Keeping them tuned in to your channel means you must address what they hope to hear.

Highly Engaged and Strategic Boards

How do we make your Association remain number one on their listening dial? First, elevate your board meetings to strategic conversations about board member business challenges. Secondly, minimize the staff “report out” practice as much as possible.  Instead, discuss how these business challenges could be addressed through your association. This makes your meeting relevant and helps to justify a board member’s time away from their business.

What do our board members really tune in for at Board Meetings?

  • Discussions addressing critical business challenges and opportunities and how their Association could help address these challenges.
  • How the Association is continually building more allies to help leverage the industry’s position to reduce regulatory compliance costs.
  • The organization is investing its revenues to produce market research or technologies that provides meaningful insights to reduce costs or grow top line revenue.

These approaches accelerate board engagement and make your board deliberations more strategic. Boards who are highly engaged and strategic in focus outperform those organizations who are not.

Understanding Board and Industry Perceptions

Every board member has different expectations, business challenges, and business opportunities. Knowing and understanding these issues help to align your board meetings with the strategic outcomes that your board members care most about. You can surface these perceptions through your strategic business planning process through:

  • Industry or Profession Focused Board interviews.
  • An industry wide business impact survey (instead of an association focused product and service satisfaction survey).

This detailed and actionable research helps you identify and prioritize the issues that move the needle for your board and the membership.  In doing so, your organization can reposition itself as a solution partner and in doing so become more relevant.

“WISP” A Station Your Board Wants to Hear

Increasingly Trade Associations are positioning their organizations to that of a Worldwide Industry Solution Partner (WISP). For example, NPES, the Aluminum Association, the American Staffing Association, the Society for Vascular Ultrasound, and the Jewelers of America have transformed themselves into WISP’s. Each of these organizations are finding new and innovative ways to serve their members, promote their industry, or help to accelerate the relevance of an important field inside the medical profession.

Worldwide Industry Solution Partners

WISP’s align with and drive business outcomes for industries. For GCCA, the Global Cold Chain Alliance, it’s about helping the industry manage and rein in their regulatory costs:

  • In 2009, the industry’s fines and inspections increased by more than 300%.
  • GCCA signed the first OSHA Alliance with the new administration in mid-2010.
  • The Association collaborated with OSHA on safety initiatives, and inspector training.
stop selling stuff

 

stop selling stuffGCCA’s actions on behalf of the Cold Chain helped reduce compliance costs considerably. By understanding member expectations, member business challenges and top line growth opportunities, the association is much more relevant. What’s more, associations like GCCA are increasingly listener favorites. Its strategic plan is a chart topper, it reflects the industry’s challenges while it helps drive business growth through the Association. GCCA is not selling stuff, it is driving industry business outcomes.

Stop Selling Stuff

stop selling stuffAlthough there are visible signs of economic growth, global terrorism threats and weak consumption are holding back more robust growth. If we want board members to stay tuned to our channel we must play what they want to hear or they will tune us out. So if your board members are sarcastically saying “I hope they try selling stuff today?” It’s out of frustration and only a matter of time before they vote with their feet and their checkbook and tune in to an entirely different channel. What they really mean is stop selling stuff and instead help their industry address its challenges and drive its business outcomes.

stop selling stuff

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

3 Association Radical Transformation Strategies

Association Radical Transformation Strategies

Are persistent growth challenges and global uncertainty opening different pathways for Trade Associations? In several instances, several Association CEO’s are utilizing radical transformation strategies to increase their relevance to the members and the industries they serve. Do Association’s need Radical Transformation Strategies to remain relevant enough to keep their members engaged over the longer term?

Association Radical Transformation Strategies

In 1982, as the global competition and market disruption accelerated, Tom Peters introduced a new way of thinking in his book “In Search of Excellence.” Instead of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” he said “If it ain’t broke, you just haven’t looked hard enough.” As market conditions drive tighter margins and uncertainty limits opportunities for industry growth, Tom Peters bias for action is a clarion call for Associations. The following 3 Association Radical Transformation Strategies will help to radically transform your Association and better position your organization to more impactfully engage your members:

  1. Dispense with traditional Association Strategies, Connect the Value Chain

Engage the entire value chain (suppliers, original equipment manufacturers, producers, customers, and customer’s customer) through qualitative and quantitative research. Identify similarities among business challenges and growth opportunities. In doing so, your organization is positioning itself as the place to address solutions and drive growth from one end of the marketplace to the other.

  1. Forget Competitive Boundaries, Lead and Convene the Value Chain

Forget competitive association boundaries. Convene the industry or profession value chain through your association, collaborate with other associations to address industry business challenges and identify new pathways to top line growth. For example, leverage advocacy resources of the entire value chain to reduce compliance costs. Your bias for action is no longer about your products or services, it’s about industry business outcomes. Driving these outcomes throughout the entire value chain provides the results they must have to succeed. If they succeed, then they remember who helped drive their success and reward you with a renewal or a new membership.

  1. Association Promotion becomes secondary, Promote and Grow the Industry or Profession throughout the Value Chain

In a hyper competitive world, relevance is the key that can unlock the business and professional outcomes that your members need. This is the bias for action that matters, promote the industry through actionable research. Utilize it to demonstrate the industry’s impact to advocate with elected officials, regulators, and industry customers. Also, develop actionable research to identify opportunities to increase efficiency or unlock growth opportunities throughout the value chain. Having the value chain at the table creates allies to drive business outcomes.  Anything less and your Association’s membership is at risk.

Transformation and Action

Trade Associations who demonstrate a bias for action and transformation are increasing. As global market complexities increase, several CEO’s are embracing transformation as the better pathway to keep their Association’s relevant. What’s more, each of these Associations is finding it easier to engage their members because of the relevance to their business challenges and outcomes.

Association Radical Transformation Strategies

Thayer Long, NPES President since May of 2016, sees his organization’s strategic planning process as an ongoing act of invention. Although the plan was approved by the organization’s Board of Directors in December 2016, this is a larger effort to support global growth for the print and imaging industry. An NPES Core Team is convening representatives of the value chain (original equipment manufacturers, printers, and brand owners) to ensure that new products and services provide real time solutions to drive business outcomes. Actionable data and acting on what they know versus what they think is now a part of the NPES DNA. The association wants to remain nimble to take full advantage of any new opportunities help reduce costs or to support top line growth for the industry they serve.

Association Radical Transformation StrategiesCorey Rosenbusch, Global Cold Chain Alliance President & CEO maintains a relentless focus on a strategic plan reflecting the business outcomes of refrigerated food and logistics industry around the world. GCCA developed disruptive advocacy strategies to lower the costs of regulatory compliance for their members. What’s different today? The association leads and convenes an ongoing broader industry effort focusing on cost reduction.

Since adoption of its new strategic plan GCCA has experienced 25% growth in annual revenue.

Association Radical Transformation StrategiesHeidi Brock, President & CEO, the Aluminum Association and her team have transformed the way they serve their members. Tightly aligning advocacy strategies with member business outcomes and continually providing actionable research to share with elected officials and prospective customers of the industry keeps the Association relevant. Moreover Brock, her team, and the Association’s Executive Committee work towards quantifiable outcomes for the Aluminum Industry.

The Aluminum Association is experiencing 11% membership growth, retention improved 3%, and their core revenue is 6% higher than the prior year.

3 Association Radical Transformation Strategies

Should your Association adjust its bias for action? Start by asking these four questions of your Board and your members:

  1. As you think about the Association over the last 3-5 years what has the organization achieved in terms of direct impact on your costs of doing business and your opportunities to grow your topline revenue?
  2. Over the next 3-5 years what are the industry’s most significant challenges, threats and business growth opportunities?
  3. How aligned is the Association with these challenges and opportunities?
  4. Would you like the value chain at the table with us to help build solutions and drive future topline growth?

The answers to these questions will provide the basis you need to launch your 3 Association Radical Transformation Strategies.

Association Radical Transformation Strategies

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

4 Association Disruption Strategies

4 Association Disruption Strategies

The 2017 PWC 20th annual CEO Survey, fourth quarter domestic GDP numbers and the 2017 Conference Board Global forecast of 2.3% economic growth show just how challenging business conditions are for today’s business decision makers. Organizations can help their members convert these challenges into growth opportunities by utilizing 4 Association Disruption Strategies. In doing so you, can position your organization as disruptive growth agents for the Industry or the Profession you serve.

Disrupt Ourselves

Embracing the hyper competitive environment is essential in a time of global uncertainty and disruption for all Association and Professional Society Leaders. “We have to disrupt ourselves every day,” notes Thayer Long, President of Reston, Virginia based NPES.  He points to how his Association is answering the call and positioning itself to be a growth agent for the printing and imaging industry.  In a recently completed Strategic Plan update, he reflects on how NPES with Board and Market guidance is addressing  challenges and competitive threats for the Industry and the Association.

Transforming into agents of change and growth helps keep your organization more relevant. In today’s environment, members demand real time solutions that advance their concerns and achieve results. By adding these 4 Association Disruption Strategies into your planning process, your organization becomes an important part of everyday conversations.

4 Association Disruption Strategies

  1. Obtain Actionable Data – Understanding challenges and opportunities for the Profession or Industry you represent is a must. Utilizing an impact and member engagement focused survey can help you obtain more realistic assessments of how relevant and connected your organization is to the outcomes that members seek to achieve. Taking your members pulse annually through impact and memebr engagement surveys will especially help keep your organization aligned with your members and their customers.

2.  Position the Association as an Outcome Driver Changing the conversation from “here’s what you get for your money” to “here’s the power of engaging with others in your Industry/Profession to create new, innovative solutions” positions your organization as a thought leader and a solution provider.

3. Deliver Products to Drive Impact  Avoiding the “all you can eat buffet” environment that adds more products dilutes value and dampens staff enthusiasm over time. This posture also causes your members to perceive your Association or Professional Society as less relevant. For example, a data based approach that utilizes survey results from members and their customers can validate what your members need to achieve their business outcomes.  Using this approach NPES was able to affirm the need to deliver actionable Industry Research for Global Print Manufacturers, Printers, and the Big Brand Companies.

4. Keep Strategic Plans NimbleAs business cycles shift, your organization must be able to adapt and remain relevant. For instance, it’s not yet clear on what the Post Brexit environment will look like nor is it clear how health care policy will evolve. Collaborating with your board to build and adjust an organization Business Plan instead of the traditional Strategic Plan helps you respond instantaneously to market changes.

Applying these 4 Association Disruption Strategies to develop your new Business Plan can help your Association or Professional Society accelerate its relevance and motivate higher levels of Member and Industry engagement. By doing so, your organization becomes the focal point for the Profession or Industry you represent. For NPES, extensive survey research and strategic deliberations with their board positions the organization as the focal point for the global imaging and printing industry growth.

4 Association Disruption Strategies

4 Association Disruption Strategies

The Merriam Webster definition of disrupt helps to frame the decision point for you as an Association Executive or an Executive Director:

  • “to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way: to interrupt the normal progress or activity of (something)”

In today’s uncertain and anemic growth environment, should Associations and Professional Societies utilize their Business Planning (formerly known as Strategic Planning) process to “disrupt themselves?” Is there any other choice?

4 Association Disruption Strategies

 

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

Advocacy Drives Business Outcomes

advocacy drives business outcomes

For leading Associations, their mantra is clear Advocacy Drives Business Outcomes. These organizations collaborate with their boards to make sure that the Association’s Advocacy Strategies reflect the growth challenges and opportunities that their members care most about. Even though the U.S. economy grew at a brisk 3.5% in the third quarter of 2016 growth forecasts for 2017 remain mixed. What also remains to be seen is just how much disruptive technologies and policies of the new Administration will impact the business landscape in the new year.

What is becoming increasingly more clear is how Associations can accelerate their business impact for their members in 2017. There is already evidence that CEO’s are leveraging organizational resources to engage their members in ambitious policy and regulatory agendas. In doing so these Associations are key allies in helping their members overcome challenges, reduce costs, and in several cases enter new markets.

Policy Priorities Mirror Industry Outcomes

Associations including the Global Cold Chain Alliance, GCCA,  and the American Bakers Association, ABA, utilize their Advocacy Strategies to link member dues investments to the cost reduction and top line growth outcomes that their members seek.  GCCA’s strategic plan incorporates advocacy and business outcomes and ABA emphasizes the impact of its advocacy strategies in an annual video. The Fertilizer Institute’s, TFIAdvocacy Strategy is laser focused on helping its members manage its costs through a slow growth cycle. Each of these organizations demonstrate how advocacy drives business outcomes.

The Board leaders and the Association are collaborators and make sure policy priorities reflect the challenges and opportunities facing the industry per Heidi Biggs Brock, President and CEO, at the Aluminum Association.

Engaging the Board on External Issues

As the global marketplace grows more increasingly complex some Associations have found it difficult to increase board attendance and active participation at their meetings. Organizations who structure their board meetings as more of a “knowledge sharing” and strategic focus for attendees are finding higher levels of interest and engagement.

Measuring Advocacy and Policy Outcomes

Advocacy Drives Business OutcomesShowing how advocacy delivers a return on member engagement is a critical element of what organizations like the Aluminum Association provide for their members. Being able to demonstrate how your organization measures and tracks these outcomes is especially impactful in the minds of the dues paying member.

Expanding Advocacy Impact

Building and recruiting allies inside and outside your industry is a staple for Associations who seek to magnify the impact that they can deliver for their members. Identifying who else needs to be at the table to help your organization build an even greater base of support is essential.

 Advocacy Drives Business Outcomes

In an uncertain world board leaders and members insist upon direct return from their investment of time and financial resources. The Aluminum Association, the American Bakers Association, the Fertilizer Institute, the Global Cold Chain Alliance, and several others have already transformed their organizations. Through tightly focused Advocacy Strategies Today’s Associations are upping their game and helping industries reshape the external business environment for their members. They are doing so by communicating how Advocacy drives business outcomes.

Advocacy Drives Business Outcomes

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting