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

3 Association Growth Strategies

3 Association Growth StrategiesSluggish global growth and U.S. growth, the race for talent, and disruptive innovation create opportunities for Associations and Professional Societies to become more essential. It’s all about alignment with industry and professional outcomes that your members care most about. Those organizations who utilize these 3 Association Growth Strategies can help impact member outcomes and as a result better position their members and their organizations for long term success.

3 Association Growth Strategies

1. Secure Actionable Research

Securing forward looking data is essential. Utilizing “Impact” Surveys instead of member satisfaction surveys will help your organization determine the desired future outcomes that members seek to address their “up at night” issues. These issues must also be examined segment by segment.

The Global Cold Chain Alliance, GCCA, utilized both qualitative and quantitative research in order to align itself with its stakeholders. Through this process the organization aligned its internal team and they have transformed themselves into strategic partners for the Global Refrigerated Warehouse Industry. In doing so, GCCA is helping its members drive future outcomes.

3 Association Growth StrategiesAccording to Corey Rosenbusch, President and CEO, GCCA, the organization is taking its partnership a step further. The organization conducts qualitative research with their member’s customers to help align GCCA and their industry with the business outcomes their customers seek. Here again the organization impacts member outcomes.

Association revenues have grown by 25% in the last year and a half.

2. Demonstrate Strategic Alignment

Strategic alignment with your member’s industry and its professional outcomes is key to your organization’s long term durability and growth. Without a recognized level of strategic alignment members will not perceive the important connection between your organization and their business outcomes.

3 Association Growth StrategiesAt the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association, Brent McClendon, President and CEO, continually seeks ways in which he can help accelerate member engagement. He does this by making sure that NWPCA listens closely to its members and then aligns its resources with the appropriate company and industry outcomes. One example of aligning its resources is through its software platform. Their proprietary software, “Pallet Design System” is both a product specification and engineering design tool as well as a professional marketing tool, and educational tool to serve the wood pallet industry. This platform accelerates member engagement and it’s a concrete example of how a product can drive future outcomes.

NWPCA has experienced 60% revenue growth over the last three years.

3. Design the Industry’s Future

Serving as a leader and convener for your industry creates the strongest possible link between your organization and the member’s your serve.  The link is reinforced when you provide a safe space for your members to collaborate and design their future together.

3 Association Growth StrategiesThe Smart Electric Power Alliance, SEPA, brings companies together in all aspects of power generation to design and build the industry of the future. Julia Hamm, President and CEO, and the SEPA team link the industry’s all stakeholders to develop, share, and build future focused solutions for their industry. The organization facilitates important conversations, doesn’t take sides, and serves as an industry convener. SEPA is all about helping members determine how to best drive future outcomes.

For example, SEPA created a 51st State Initiative that creates ongoing opportunities for experts and industry leaders to share, test, and provide feedback on direction and innovation to support an evolving utility sector. Through the 51st State initiative, all stakeholders have can participate in designing “Sustainable market structures from the ground-up, rather than attempting to make wholesale or partial changes to something that has been in place for decades.”

The Smart Electric Power Alliance has seen annual revenues grow 23% (2015 to 2016) and also in 2016 experienced a 62% increase in total staff (to 35 employees from 22).

3 Association Growth Strategies

In a September 2016 interview in Fortune Magazine, GM’s CEO Mary Barra was asked “What would you tell your younger self to do differently?” She replied “Focus more on speed. Time is not our friend.” These 3 Association Growth Strategies will give your organization greater speed and help your organization impact industry and professional outcomes that your members care most about.

3 Association Growth Strategies

 

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

 

active innovation

Data Fuels Active Innovation

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 StartsInstitute 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.

Positive Association Disruption

Positive Association Disruption

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.

Disruptive Advocacy Strategies

Disruptive Advocacy Strategies

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.

disruptive innovation

Disruptive Innovation Creates Association Opportunities

Disruptive Innovation “describes a process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge established incumbent businesses.” In a slowing and uneven global economy, are your members looking somewhere else for lower cost and innovative solutions? Are your members less confident about their growth opportunities than they were a year or two ago? Does your membership perceive your association as being aligned with their business and professional goals? Having actionable data that answers these questions is more important than ever for associations in a world of disruptive innovation.

Driverless Associations

Driverless Associations

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.

Innovative Workforce Solutions

Innovative Workforce Solutions

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 we do for you

Here is What We Do for You

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that if the current trend continues, Data provider Dealogic estimates that Global Mergers and Acquisitions will climb to and exceed $4.58 trillion in 2015. In a low growth economic environment, corporations seeking growth are actively pursuing the best merger combinations. Although associations don’t control the external business environment, they do have the ability to move away from a “here is what we do for you “posture to a “together we succeed” posture.

losing large association members

Improving Association Retention Performance

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.