In a growing trend, Association CEO’s and their Board Members are utilizing economic data as important context for their strategic deliberations. Jobs data, Housing Starts, Institute for Supply Management Index (ISM), Oil Prices, Consumer Spending, and U.S. Dollar Performance against other currencies is a more frequent topic at Association Strategic Planning Sessions. Although Strategic Plans cover 3 year windows, Boards encourage their CEO’s to be flexible and to use trend data to meet shifting demands to help their industries. In essence, economic data fuels active innovation at Associations.
Can positive association disruption reverse the fortunes for industry professionals and an organization? In a weak economic growth environment, it’s a daunting task. According to the 2016 PWC U.S. CEO Survey concerns “over volatility and over-regulation are rising.” What’s more, Reuters reported that retail sales slipped in a recent report and fourth quarter U.S. economic growth was only 1%. How can an Association overtake an economic cycle and put its members and itself in the driver’s seat? The answer is its possible and for one Association it yielded a $1 million turnaround in operating performance.
Can Disruptive Advocacy Strategies unlock industry growth and cost saving opportunities for your members in a slow growth economy? While the possibility of a recession seems unlikely this year, growth remains a challenge for many industries. According to the Conference Board, U.S. growth in 2016 is forecast at 2.0% while Global growth is forecast slightly higher at 2.5%. As increasing regulatory oversight dominates the federal and global landscape, building an agency focused strategy on behalf of your members can pay dividends for the industry and for your association.
Ring in the age of Driverless Associations. It’s 2016 with Medical, and Pharmaceutical breakthroughs, Driverless cars, and industries that are busy producing a new wave of technological breakthroughs. Slow U.S. GDP Growth and modest improvement in Global Growth appear to be the bellwethers of even more technology advancements. These innovations help capture consumer imaginations, elevate company operating performance, and grow market share. Innovative Organizations who reach outside the box to help their member’s develop growth solutions can transform themselves into Driverless Associations.
Anemic economic performance is unfortunately becoming a mainstay in the U.S. economy. The release of the 3rd quarter GDP numbers where only 1.5% growth was reported is another reminder of how much the ground is shifting for associations. Companies will likely view membership through an even narrower prism of operating margins if economic conditions weaken further. Associations who are Funding Industry Innovation can position themselves as essential partners in helping members achieve business outcomes.
Associations are increasingly well positioned to help members and industries build innovative workforce solutions through their professional development and certification products. As waves of innovation, millennials, and baby boomer retirements alter future workforce design, forward thinking organizations can transform themselves and become professional development partners for their members.
What Association doesn’t want to slow down its Member Resignations and improve retention performance? Member losses are difficult especially when an Association loses larger members. Yet the painful lessons from these resignations can help your organization reposition itself and drive accelerated member engagement and achieve improved operating performance. Since member companies are disrupting their industries to stay ahead of the curve, today’s associations are expected to be nimble strategic partners or members will vote with their feet and go somewhere else.
Are your board members laser focused on their mobile devices during board meetings? Is there a sense of restlessness at your executive committee and full board meetings? Odds are high that your board members are either preoccupied with business challenges or just plain bored with discussions on Association strategies. One way or another, they might be tuning out and if they are, your board meetings might be perceived as association “bored” meetings.
If your members face top line growth challenges, generational transfer issues, and evolving consumer expectations, how can your Association support member success? Through a strategic planning process that transforms your organization from an inside out focus to an outside in focus. The process starts with a highly engaged and strategically focused board and concludes with a strategic plan amplifying industry growth objectives.
Association Innovation Delivers Growth
What capabilities should your association have in order to deliver revenue growth and strong retention? In the Strategic Member Engagement Survey, Associations & Professional Societies reporting upward 3-year operating results are far more likely to have a very high level of board understanding and strategizing about the business and professional outcomes members seek, and actively engage members in creating new solutions. For IARW, the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (Global Cold Chain Alliance Partner), these new and innovative capabilities are serving as an accelerant to revenue growth and retention.
Return on Member Engagement
“Together we achieve a return on member engagement” reflects a six month strategic planning mantra employed by Corey Rosenbusch, President and CEO, GCCA (of which IARW is a key partner) and the Association’s Board of Directors. Collaboratively they determined their industry’s strategic business outcomes and developed an innovation focused strategic plan to drive worldwide top line growth.
Throughout the process board members keenly focused on capabilities and priorities they wanted from their industry association. Their Board Task Force surfaced opportunities to broaden strategic alliances that will extend the industry’s visibility and global reach.
Business Outcome Focus Drives Revenue Growth
Identifying member industry “up-at-night” issues and positioning IARW as a strategic partner to drive business growth is already showing results through recovering former member dues, membership and sponsor growth, and a potential windfall through a new Global Cold Chain Expo to be held in Chicago in 2016.
Association Innovation Delivers Growth
Although Rosenbusch understood the risks of utilizing a different planning process he focused on a different path based on innovation and member business outcomes. To date he reports over $200,000 in new revenue and sees opportunity to grow substantially more and help the industry IARW serves achieve its business growth objectives.