up at night

Innovation & Association Relevance

When is the timing right to embrace innovation and change at your Association? Some argue that with an improved economy its best to leave well enough alone. Maybe, no. The real question? How well are you positioned to help your member’s achieve their business outcomes in a time of dramatic innovation and change? 

managing teams through crisis

Is Your Association Inside Out?

Recently reported economic expansion reflects only one part of an evolving and complex business environment. Cyber threats, disruptive technologies, innovations and social media, an aging workforce, and talent gaps weigh heavily on corporate bottom lines. According to a McKinsey December 2014 Global Survey, “geopolitical concerns remain paramount as a risk to growth for executives whose optimism for the global economy in early 2014 has faded over the course of the year.”

Will Engagement Change the Association Conversation?

conversation

Moving away from selling and testing satisfaction with Association “outputs” to engaging members in knowledge sharing and collaboration is crucial. The process begins with a highly engaged and strategically focused Board.

Association CEO Moves the Needle

Understanding the complexities and realities facing Associations Christopher E. Laxton, CAE, Executive Director, AMDA, www.amda.com,The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, uses a strategic board approach.

Driving Toward Member Outcomes

Associations really get into trouble when internal discussions infer “we know what’s best for our members.” When members don’t feel that they can impact something that they care about, they form their own coalitions, forums, and online communities outside of the association. Knowing these pitfalls; Laxton and other CEO’s utilize a strategic board focus to ground their organizations in member outcomes:

Focus on Members’ Success

Highly engaged and strategically focused Boards have a very high correlation to Association’s operating results. Organizations with upward trending 3 year operating results report strategic boards and their CEO’s have strategic conversations about the needs of average members.

Will Engagement Change the Association Conversation?

For Laxton, strategic member engagement is a potent resource that positions his Association for long term impact. Notably, the member outcome focus sets the stage for AMDA members to contribute and collaborate in developing new solutions to achieve their objectives.

Does Member Engagement drive the Association’s business model? Although just eighteen months in his tenure, Laxton reports 6 years of operating deficits were replaced with a 6 figure surplus.

The free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives upon request at www.potomaccore.com.
conversation

Association Members Care About Outcomes

What happens when members don’t feel that they can impact something that they care about? They form their own coalitions, new Associations, and their own on-line communities. Since members care about “outcomes” for themselves, their organizations, their constituencies, and customers, the conversation will need to be changed. Strategic member engagement begins when Associations redirect the discussion from “outputs” to member “outcomes”.

outcomesThe process of moving from Association “outputs” to member “outcomes” begins with a highly engaged and strategically focused Board. It sets a considerably different context for strategic dialogue between the senior staff and board. This approach requires that Associations have sufficient insights into the external and operational challenges and opportunities of members; segment by segment.

Focus Volunteer Leaders on Member Success

High level boards that approach member outcomes as a convergence point accelerate an Association’s impact. At NIRI, , the National Investor Relations Institute, the board is all about strategy and outcomes, says Jeff Morgan, FASAE, CAE, President & CEO.

Board focus on the needs of the average member. Partnership with staff and conversations related to where the Investor Relations Profession connects NIRI to “member outcomes.”

“Outcomes” Trump “Outputs.” Providing a certification program at a crucial time in the Investor Relations profession makes NIRI that much more relevant to its global membership.

Association Members Care About Outcomes

outcomesOther CEO’s employ a similar approach. Christopher E. Laxton, CAE, Executive Director, AMDA, www.amda.com,The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, believes time focused on cultivating strategic boards is well spent. From his perspective, every minute that Association CEO’s invests in the Board can help deliver increased engagement and revenue growth.

Highly engaged & strategically focused Boards have a high correlation to Association operating results as noted in February 2014.

Additional information on Strategic Member Engagement and our eBook are available at no cost at www.potomaccore.com.

Durability: Association Strategic Member Engagement

Durability: Association Strategic Member Engagement. In a dynamic and rapidly changing global economy, Associations face competition and unpredictable business cycles. Rather than leverage short term sales cycles, some organizations are instead leveraging a longer term value added approach.

durabilityStrategic Member Engagement is an important resource helping Associations develop long term strategy and effective competitive positioning. For Jeff Morgan, President & CEO of NIRI (National Investor Relations Institute) www.niri.org, building for the long term means “durability.” His focus is to consistently position his organization as a strategic ally and a more essential member resource.

3 Strategies Accelerating Engagement

It’s essential to understand how an association is currently impacting member objectives. This requires securing actionable data about member perceptions of their environmental and operational challenges. Through this process Associations obtain actionable data, understand member “up at night” issues, and assess culture to formulate products and services to address member outcomes.

NIRI  utilizes three strategies to accelerate Member Engagement:

 Actionable Data. Conducts impact surveys to understand its Association’s impact on key member outcomes.


“Up at Night” Issues. By member segment, learns desired future member outcomes and provides solutions matching these outcomes.

Culture. Over a six year time frame, NIRI transitioned its’ culture from a “me/you” focus to a “we” focused highly engaged solutions community.

Durability and Metrics

Morgan reports accelerated member engagement in key segments,  6% operating revenue growth, annual conference attendance 15%  higher than 2013, and 20% international membership growth.

Durability: Association Strategic Member Engagement.

Strategic Member Engagement is not about short term revenue growth, it’s about Long Term Association Strategy & Competitive Positioning. Through NIRI’s experience and our research  http://bit.ly/1g8g1J2 ,we’re learning just how much of a driver strategic member engagement is for an association’s business model.

Additional information on Strategic Member Engagement and our eBook are available at no cost at www.potomaccore.com.

durability

New Engagement Opportunity for Associations?

New Engagement Opportunity for Associations? Global Competition, political turmoil, and the digital economy are creating new opportunities for Associations and Professional Societies. Some organizations are leveraging external challenges to partner with their members to help them achieve business and professional outcomes. This type of “shared outcome” approach can help Associations move the conversation away from “what do I get for my dues?”

A Highly Engaged Solution Community

ACCA, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, www.acca.org, works through ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) to develop industry standards for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and building performance. They collaborate with members, engage experienced small business owners, and consistently recognize volunteer thought leadership contributions in their standards setting process.

The organization’s engagement practices help reinforce a “we” focused & a “highly engaged solution community.” Recognition of Air Conditioning Contractor Expert Contributions throughout the process in a target member segment also increases member “connectivity” to the Association.

engagement opportunityPaul Stalknecht, ACCA President & CEO, says the Standards Program is “effective because it’s driven and led by accomplished small business owners.” He emphasizes that their standards setting initiative has influenced how the organization structures their offerings to Air Conditioning Contractors across multiple platforms.

New Engagement Opportunity for Associations?

A “shared outcome” focus similar to ACCA’s will motivate more members to contribute and be connected if they believe that the outcomes they care most about will be achieved. The Association reports upward trends in retention, annual operating revenue, and fee for service offerings.

Organizations who most often reported (http://bit.ly/1g8g1J2) upward 3 year business trends were the ones who reported an understanding of member “up at night” issues and then engaging members in becoming active on those needs.

For a free copy of the “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” eBook, request your copy at www.potomaccore.com.

engagement opportunity

 

Association Member Viewing Lens

Strategic Member Engagement: The Association Member Viewing Lens Nowadays, Executives no longer make membership decisions per se, they make business decisions. The lens in which these decisions are evaluated and made is all about business, professional, and personal outcomes. Associations who align their offerings do so by first understanding member “up at night” issues.

“We”  Focused Community

viewing lensFor Tino Mantella, President & CEO, the Technology Association of Georgia, www.tagonline.org, listening and reinforcing their engaged solution community is a consistent mantra. Annual membership surveys, focus groups, market studies, and dedicated relationship resources provide Mantella, his senior team, and their Board of Directors with connectivity to member “up at night” issues. (http://bit.ly/1aT4qmn)

TAG also emphasizes collaboration throughout its community and rewards, welcomes, and recognizes “thought leadership” contributions among its 34 different Special Interest Groups.

Test: Is the Association a Highly Engaged Solution Community?

Entrepreneurs, a key TAG membership segment, wanted the organization to help achieve enactment of a $100 million investment fund to assist early growth stage firms. Working as part of a broader business coalition, TAG marshaled its resources. The legislation achieved final passage in the Georgia State Legislature on March 28, 2013. (http://bit.ly/1lcl9Ud)

Data Drives Alignment With The Association Member Viewing Lens

Mantella says “we think about all the ways we listen, learn, and respond to our members.” In 2014 member retention stands at 98% with annual corporate membership growth at 35%.

Strategic Member Engagement: The Association Member Viewing Lens

Associations who regularly conduct member impact surveys (not merely satisfaction surveys) fare better. The survey of 307 Association Executives conducted by Potomac Core Consulting, Vertical Leap Consulting, and icimo, shows that organizations who conduct annual member impact surveys with annual revenue perform 15% higher over a 3 year period than those who do not.

For complete survey results and the “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” eBook, sign up at www.potomaccore.com.

viewing lens

Does Your Association Board Have A Strategic Focus?

Does Your Association Board Have A Strategic Focus? At a time of unprecedented change, some CEO’s view strategic boards as indispensable and an important driver to the success of an organization. As demographics, technology, the economy, and the nature of commerce rapidly shift from one day to the next, boards with strategic focus could be the difference between success and failure.

Key Capability

strategic focusIn a joint survey conducted through the collaborative effort of Vertical Leap Consulting, icimo, and Potomac Core Consulting, very highly engaged boards who are strategic in focus were recognized as one of six capabilities reporting upward trending 3-year operating results. For Christopher E. Laxton, CAE, Executive Director, AMDA (www.amda.com),The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, and a 2014 Alumni Examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the survey results have even greater implications. He views the results as providing external validation of the strategic focus that all boards must have to navigate a changing and challenging landscape.

“CEOs Must Lead The Board”

As Associations face increasing competition, more public scrutiny, and higher stakes, Laxton contends that “more CEO’s should take on board development.” Reflecting on professional experience and results from the Strategic Member Engagement Survey, he emphasizes that “when boards focus strategically, we can more easily see the results.”

Laxton believes that CEO’s should start the process by asking themselves, “How can I make my board more strategic?” and understand that boards don’t always understand how to become strategic in the first place. He works with board chairs to define the culture, i.e. “talking and getting nothing done” or “instilling a sense of urgency and taking action.”

Does Your Association Board Have A Strategic Focus?

From Laxton’s perspective, every minute that Association CEO’s invests in the Board can help deliver increased engagement and revenue growth.

For a free copy of the “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” eBook, request your copy at www.potomaccore.com.

strategic focus

“Outside In” Association Boards?

association boards

“Outside In” Association Boards?

The overall impact of very highly strategic boards with a high understanding who strategize about the needs of the average member is reflected in Association business model performances. New data from a Strategic Member Engagement Survey shows organizations who are “Outside In” are far more likely to deliver strong performance in retention, annual revenue, primary meeting registrations and timely membership renewals. This and other survey data was shared through the collaboration of icimo, Vertical Leap Consulting, and Potomac Core – Association Consulting.

Why “Outside In” Boards Matter

As Associations and Professional Societies work to remain relevant, a strategic board can provide important linkages to member “up at night” issues and the business and professional outcomes that members want to achieve.

Alignment With Member Outcomes

outside inIn an important example, keeping an Association reflective of member business outcomes (“outside-in) is a deliberate focus for Julia Hamm, President & CEO of the Solar Electric Power Association www.solarelectricpower.org.  By design, the organization’s board reflects all sectors of its core membership ranging from large regulated investor owned electric companies to small municipally owned electric utilities.

Hamm and her senior team consistently utilize their strategically focused board to understand their “up at night” issues. They utilize direct market feedback  to develop products and services which help effectively address  and engage members in solutions to their “up at night” issues. “What’s driving us is what they need, not what we need” emphasizes Julia Hamm. This member outcome focused approach helps the organization achieve consistent 94-95% core member retention.

“Outside In” Association Boards?

Strategic boards who provide high level perspectives on member and professional outcomes help motivate and drive Strategic Member Engagement. They also help an Association remain highly relevant on a consistent basis.

 

outside inFor a free copy of the “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” eBook, request your copy at www.potomaccore.com

 

Does Your Association Outdistance For Profit Competition?

for profit competitionDoes Your Association Outdistance For Profit Competition? At a time when for profit competitors pursue convention & conference space once owned by Associations, CEOs determined to thrive are reinvesting & sharpening their organizational competitive edge. In one case, PMMI www.pmmi.org, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, an organization whose principal source of funding comes from trade shows, takes nothing for granted. According to Chuck Yuska, President & CEO, the board & staff team always compete to maintain their “Convening Authority” mantle.

Strategic Partnership Emphasis

Securing market alignment is key for PMMI. Members & staff collaborate on annual goals, objectives, and measurements for the upcoming year.

Yuska emphasizes “we want to help our members be more competitive, give them the tools & information to grow their business, minimize their risks and obtain new business practices that help them become better companies and be more profitable.”

Address Member Pain Points   

Successful Associations like PMMI remain connected with member pain points, & provide business tangible solutions to:

1. Help members succeed. Support member global market needs, produce trade shows & conferences that studiously link buyers & sellers, members, & their customers.

2.  Use Customer Feedback Loop. Utilize exhibitor, member, & customer analytics & feedback to continuously improve takeaway value for all members & show participants.

3. Maintain High Relevance Factor. Accelerate organizational visibility through traditional & social media, direct mail, and industry channels.

4. Reinvest. Deliver the next “new thing,” and expand opportunities for members & customers.

Does Your Association Outdistance For Profit Competition?

for profit competitionDespite $2 million net operating performance in 2012 & 2013, and 7% operating growth and 95% retention in 2013, PMMI looks to consistently enhance its competitive position.

What’s next for PMMI? Expansion into regional trade shows with Pack Expo East www.packexpoeast.com

For a free copy of the “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” eBook, request your copy at www.potomaccore.com.

for profit competition