Can Silos Stunt Association Revenue Growth?

Association Revenue GrowthCan Silos Stunt Association Revenue Growth? “We’ve met the enemy head on and it is us.” Is this true? Absolutely, yes.  Silos at Associations can do more harm than good. Why?  Although a well defined organizational structure is effective in defining roles and responsibilities, they at times erect unnecessary walls and can create a fiefdom.

Beware of the Silo Effect

The symptoms are easily recognizable. If Senior Managers consistently debate boundaries, direct reports challenge colleagues and managers to “stay out of their portfolios” then your Association is seeing some of the silo effect. Regardless of the motivation it’s harmful to your bottom line. In time, Association morale and focus is diminished along with focus on members and revenue growth.

Can the silo effect be avoided or changed? Yes!

3 Steps to Motivate Association Revenue Growth

Regardless of the time of year, CEOs can alter their Association’s trajectory and focus. Implementing these three steps can help increase member satisfaction, elevate retention, drive member growth and deliver sponsorship and conference attendance increases. Really? Increasing your market satisfaction and execution in a highly competitive environment can’t help but up your game:

  1. Reward and reinforce and team results.  Recognize staff publicly, be specific, share how collaboration achieved renewals, new members, sponsors, conference attendance growth.
  2. Shared Performance objectives. All job descriptions and performance objectives should carry the same message. Everyone helps everyone else satisfy the marketplace and grow revenue.
  3. No one more is important than other team members.  Setting and reinforcing this practice is powerful. One diva impedes progress where an entire team working together can overcome anything. Coach Norman Dale, the iconic basketball Coach from the movie says it best” Five players on the floor functioning as one single unit team team, team, no one more important than the other.”

Can Silos Stunt Association Revenue Growth? 

An Association recovering from its worst revenue performance ever implemented all three of these steps the following year. They achieved dramatic improvements in total revenue, new member growth, retention and exceeded their net growth objectives.

At a time when Associations need collaboration and accelerated market focus, staff silos blur the external vision necessary to satisfy members and achieve revenue growth objectives. Removing the silos and creating a culture of collaboration will up your Association’s game. Actually, it just might have your team coming from behind and winning just like the Hickory Huskers.

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

 

Associations Can Outlast Competitors

associationsAssociations Can Outlast Competitors. In a world where competition moves like the speed of sound, Associations need solid differentiation. Competitive intelligence helps you direct budget investments and keep Association products and services current with member business and professional objectives.

360 Competition

New coalitions, and organizations are created almost weekly. Law firms and public relations firms are providing lobbying and communications products similar to Associations.  For profit companies are aggressive competitors too as they enter the market providing conference, sponsorship and other products to would be Association members.

Everywhere Associations look, competitors are ready and waiting to eat into their market share.

5 Competitive Game Changers

Competitive intelligence is a must. Know what competitors are doing and how they are driving value into your Association’s marketplace.  And, be prepared to measure your impact, establish your Association’s uniqueness and unleash high impact media and marketing to highlight value:

  1. Use annual surveys, qualify and quantify member, prospect and sponsor business objectives.
  2. Keep only those advocacy, product and service initiatives that match with “pain point” issues.
  3. Partner with name brand companies to develop and release research accelerating your marketplace’s competitiveness and profitability.
  4. Collaborate with social and business media to share and communicate cutting edge research.
  5. Engage members, prospects and sponsors in a transformed “we” culture.

Run Like A Business

More and more Association Leaders are and have transformed their Associations into finely tuned businesses. On a consistent growth trajectory and determined to compete aggressively, the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), www.tagonline.com, uses annual market data to keep advocacy, products and services connected to market “pain points.” TAG also aligns the Association’s Strategic plan, operating plan and employee performance objectives. Over an eight year period they grew membership by 600%.

Associations Can Outlast Competitors

A number of Associations have convincingly made a strong business case and grown membership and sponsorship despite fierce competition. In addition to the Technology Association of Georgia, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), www.aota.org,grew membership by 40% (http://bit.ly/13toV3I).

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

You Want to Grow Association Membership?

grow association membershipYou Want to Grow Association Membership? The pressure to increase membership is not going away and neither are the competitive threats. Although some Associations are growing membership and revenue, a high number are not. Many ask, “what are some of the best practices driving membership and revenue growth at other Associations?”

Strategy Drives Everything

The most successful membership growth efforts are tied directly to Association strategies and or strategic plans. This means board members and senior managers are committed and willing participants. Saying we need to grow membership is not powerful enough. What is? Have a well thought through strategy showing and how and why membership growth advances the mission of the Association.

3 Must Do’s that Drive Membership Growth

Despite challenging market conditions, Associations are growing and they consistently execute very well in each of the 3 Must Do’s:

1. Exceed your current membership’s expectations – Membership growth gets easier when the current membership boasts about value, service and high return on investment

2. Consistently Connect to Pain Points – Pain points reflect prospective company business and or professional needs. Direct your conversation, products and services to how membership immediately addresses and satisfies pain point needs

3. Recruit Top Flight Membership Executives – The best way to drive membership growth? Bring in A level Membership Executives who collaborate and integrate internally. These top performers effectively engage C Level executives. Membership Executives make an Association’s first impression on a prospect. Choose well and it will pay consistent dividends.

You Want to Grow Association Membership?

These strategies have driven remarkable results at several Associations. What is even more interesting is how some developed and applied each of the 3 Must Do’s differently. Although Growth results through varied from Association to Association their results were still impressive. Ranging from 233% revenue growth to 600% membership growth, each Association consistently exceeded member expectations, reflected and delivered value connected to pain points and recruit top flight membership executives.

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

 

Association Boards Say, “Show Me The Growth”

association boardsAssociations Boards Say, “Show Me the Growth.” The great recession and its aftermath dealt a powerful blow to Association revenue and membership growth. A number of Associations utilized reserves to navigate through the lean times but Boards want the reserve funds replenished for the next rainy day. Easier said than done? Of course, but the clock is ticking. CEO’s are wise to heed Board Member Calls for Association Growth.

Mirror The Marketplace

Boards expect their Associations to reflect their growth expectations to the marketplace.  For example, America’s conglomerates of the 1980’s? The once super sized mega conglomerates are now core focused juggernauts keenly in tune with their marketplace. By reconciling products and structure with customer pain points, Companies are nimble & profitable. What’s more, many successful leaders participate on Association boards and they expect similar results.

4 Steps to Association Revenue & Membership Growth

The tough growth environment opens the door to transformational approaches.  What Association Boards could have scoffed at before might now be embraced with open arms. Apply market data in order to transform your Association to help members, prospective members and sponsors more readily advance business objectives:

  1. Profit focused legislative and advocacy agenda – Your Association uses dollar amounts to quantify cost impact and growth opportunities.
  2. Market driven Conferences and Seminars – Formulated to satisfy member training needs year after year.
  3. Lead/Identify New Markets for Members – Develop a research capacity powerful enough to be the early adviser on new domestic or international market opportunities.
  4. Track and Motivate Participation Against Member Cost and Growth Needs – It’s member engagement when members feel the “we” culture and they’re energized because your Association is lined to their success.

Association Boards Say, “Show Me the Growth.”

Increased competition, especially now from for profit competitors, make the growth landscape more challenging. Yet some have transformed their business models and drive impressive revenue and membership growth including: Technology Association of Georgiawww.tagonline.org/), Commercial Real Estate Finance Council (www.crefc.org/), Air Conditioning Contractors of America (www.acca.org), and the Global Cold Chain Alliance (www.gcca.org).

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

association boards

Can Associations Outperform For Profit Competitors?

Can Associations Outperform For Profit Competitors? Until recently, Associations competed for membership, product, conference and service dollars in a limited universe. As for profit companies and not for profit organizations scour the landscape to identify and expand into new markets, they are competing head to head with Associations. While different sectors report varying degrees of competition, the health care segment is especially seeing its share of competitors.

A number of Associations (http://bit.ly/1clxzHpare primarily experiencing lower conference attendance and reduced profits. However, in several cases, competition from for profit firms now include products and services as well.

Law Changes Open doors to Competitors

AssociationsFred Somers, Executive Director, The American Occupational Therapy Association (www.aota.org), a nearly 50,000 member National Professional association, sees competitors on the for profit and nonprofit front. In this and potentially other instances, the enactment of the Affordable Care Act may have opened up new opportunities for competitors.

For AOTA, competition in areas that include publishing, professional development and continuing education are part of the new competitive landscape. Regardless, Somers convincingly asserts that his Association maintains significant competitive advantages.   

 

Win by Playing to Your Strength

Professional Society focused entities like AOTA carry considerable competitive advantages. Having considerable bodies of knowledge, long lasting relationships in the educational community and the membership can be quite advantageous. AOTA, similar to other health care related Associations, have research data and practice experience that in many cases span decades. Although for profit companies and even new nonprofit entities may bring strong marketing, they still lack the data and strong connection to a loyal and committed membership base.

Play The Hand Your Dealt

Knowing what levers are available can also make a difference. Associations have unique facets they can easily leverage into marketing and growth opportunities when necessary.  Especially in the health care segment, Associations can rely on one of their core constituencies to achieve the marketing equivalent of a hole in one.

Can Associations Outperform For Profit Competitors?

As the economy slowly improves from the great recession of 2008, Associations are seeing the playing field for fewer discretionary dollars expand well beyond membership.  Everything from conferences, publications, products and services are now in play.  Aggressive for profit competitors are leveraging their extensive resources  However, the new competitive challenges facing Associations may be opportunities instead.

AOTA, similar to other successful Associations and Professional Societies, is transforming competitive threats into market growth opportunities.

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

associations

How One Association Achieved 40% Membership Growth

membership growthHow One Association Achieved 40% Membership Growth. As Associations continue their struggle to find their membership growth sweet spot, other organizations are discovering a durable path to growth. A case and point is The American Occupational Therapy Association (www.aota.org/) where Fred Somers, their Executive Director, proudly reports 40% cumulative growth. While the numbers are impressive, their heightened focus on member value and constant innovation is equally impressive.

Up at Night Issues

From the outset, it’s Somers understanding and forward vision that’s shows how closely AOTA’s member challenges are reflected in their impressive suite of products and services. Serving and representing a dynamic critically important profession, it’s member resources, including it’s newly launched website, display how closely connected to their member’s up at night issues the Association is.

Defied Gravity

With the Association celebrating its centennial year in 2017, the Board of Directors provided a detailed vision of the where the Occupational Therapy professional was heading. The vision galvanized the profession and motivated AOTA’s senior management team to reposition its value proposition and heighten its relevance inside the profession.

While modernizing their member acquisition tactics was important, it was astute strategies and strong execution which helped AOTA defy gravity and accelerate membership growth.

1. Re engaging the Academic Community – Motivated students and professionals entering the profession to see AOTA as a critical resource provide education and continuing education.

2. Bringing younger professionals into the leadership pipeline – Attracted more Occupational Therapy professionals to membership at earlier career stages.

3. Establishing National Partnership Projects with Larger Employers – Delivering customized value to this segment and quickly demonstrated higher ROI (return on investment).

Retention and Member Engagement Opportunities

Despite remarkable membership growth, AOTA’s Somers readily acknowledges that success is a journey so much more than it is a destination. Although the Association achieves approximately 85% membership retention, AOTA and Somers are utilizing data to determine improvement opportunities:

How One Association Achieved 40% Membership Growth

Fluidity, flexibility and ongoing product and service innovations must be data driven in order to achieve large scale membership growth. AOTA’s member growth success reinforces how data, when employed effectively, helps Associations develop products and services that members need in order to be successful in their profession.

As discretionary member dollars become less available, Association memberships will continually face heightened scrutiny. Both Fred Somers and AOTA provide more than a beacon of hope. Rather they provide a successful business model that could be applied and help other Associations satisfy their members and grow their memberships.

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

Is Your Association Losing Conference Market Share?

associationIs Your Association Losing Conference Market Share? In several cases, Associations cite lower attendance, drop in sponsorship and lower net performance. A market trend revealing the rise of for profit competitors is making the conference landscape even more challenging. For profit companies have considerable marketing prowess and are a force to be reckoned with. However, Associations conceivably have even greater competitive advantages than they might have thought.

Impediment or Opportunity

For profit competitors exist only on the periphery of member company business concerns. Could the motivation be perceived as transactional and purely profit driven? Quite possibly yes. On the other hand, Associations have mission focus and longer term relationships. Members view their Associations as their partners and maintain a connection point beyond profit motive.

Associations can leverage their competitive mastery by playing to their strength. Their long term connectivity means greater understanding. Associations reinforce their member bonds when they provide conference solutions that address member pain points. The Association’s  mission focus, content platform and long term relationships place for profit competitors at a significant competitive disadvantage.

Keep in mind that where for profit companies have marketing capacity, Associations have content, member pain point connections and relationships that run deep in their culture.

Associations can surpass for profit competitors in the conference space by leveraging inherent and powerful advantages.

6 Ways Associations Win the Conference Competition

 1. Data driven strategies connect Association to members. Use member survey data to quantify and member pain point needs. The data is the foundation for conference agendas, planning and execution.

2. Lead with your strength. Utilize members throughout conferences to lead and serve as panel experts and present at plenary sessions.

3. Outperform the competition. Consistently conduct best in class content conferences. Provide memorable take away solutions for attendees.

4. Go beyond traditional marketing and promotion. Invest in multi channel high impact marketing promotion and public relations strategy.

5. Pick cherries where cherries grow. Pinpoint traditional and social media outlets where prospective attendees consume information. Flood these markets with specific pain point promotion.

6. Nothing sells better than committed members.Utilize Volunteer Leaders to articulate value, and encourage traditional constituencies to attend conferences. E mails from them will much more likely be opened and read anyway!

The Networking Advantage

Associations by their nature are communities of people who share policy, professional and or business interests.  Members value and in some cases treasure these relationships. All Associations possess this advantage and should think of new and creative approaches to help their members network.

Many conference attendees measure the success of their conference experience by the number of new relationships they minted. On boarding networking appointment software in conference registration platforms is a certain winner. Associations should make the investment (if they have not already done so), this is one expense that ROI stamped all over it.

Is Your Association Losing Conference Market Share?

Associations like everyone else must live, function, and thrive in challenging times. When it comes to competing with for profit conference providers, Associations have considerable competitive advantages. Despite heavy investment by for profit competitors, Associations have  strong foundations where members rely upon them to deliver solutions year after year.

AssociationFor Tino Mantella, President & CEO, Technology Association of Georgia (http://www.tagonline.org/), the focus is on member pain points and meetings that address and satisfy those needs. In a seven year window, the Association experienced 600% membership growth, solid conference attendance and strong sponsor revenue performance. Leveraging their existing Association assets while addressing member pain points keeps them relevant and ahead of competitors.

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

3 Core Strategies to Win New Members

core strategies3 Core Strategies to Win New Members. Long gone are the days when corporations join Associations on the basis of “good citizenship.” The severe downturn resulted in high volume dues reductions and membership cancellations across the board. While some signs in the economy are promising, the recovery is not as robust as many had hoped. New member acquisition is still a steep hill to climb and it requires new thinking. Building a strategy from the Prospect’s Business Perspective helps Associations sharpen their market focus and grow membership.

Life Inside Prospect Companies

Corporations manage their businesses for maximum cash flow, and spending decisions must reflect positively on quarterly and annual earnings. Also, having sufficient liquidity to invest in acquisitions and having ample cash resources to withstand another downturn is a common theme. How do Associations and membership organizations come to grips with this reality? By developing campaign strategies from a prospective member’s vantage point.

Times Have Changed

The view inside the C Suite at prospect companies is decidedly different than the 1980’s. Today, fewer executives are tasked with performing more functions and in many situations the majority of sales and earnings growth comes from outside the United States. The task load is substantial.  More meetings and increased travel makes it nearly impossible to get and keep an executive’s attention for more than a few minutes.

Senior corporate executives must deliver results, and they are not interested in membership pitches. They need solutions that help them and their companies achieve business objectives.

 3 Core Strategies to Win New Members

1. View the marketplace as Prospect Executives do

Prospect companies, similar to members, are tuned to their own channel “WIIFM” What’s In It For Me. They join Associations where they perceive their participation moves the needle and help them achieve their business objectives. Research prior to meetings is essential. Utilize a legislative and regulatory impact statement to confirm and quantify critical needs. Determine how pending regulations or legislation impedes the company’s ability to meet profit targets in the next five years. (http://bit.ly/1btcvac).

2. Provide regulatory, legislative or training solutions that help prospects achieve results

Cite specific examples of how membership contributes to their bottom line. Utilizing the “pain point” issues, show how participation helps the company achieve their business objectives. Point to tangible examples of how other companies (customers and competitors) leverage their membership to achieve their business objectives. Have contact information available if prospects want to contact other executives for references. Nothing sells new members better than satisfied members!

3. Have an engagement culture assuring impact on policy and the Association’s overall direction.  

Not every company can have a senior executive serving on an Association’s board. As a result, they expect an Association culture that welcomes, considers and accepts new input. With time and financial resources short prospects expect a community focus where everyone works collaboratively to achieve the same objectives.

3 Core Strategies to Win New Members

Looking at recruitment from a Prospect’s Business Perspective helps Associations and membership organizations open more doors and secure new members. Some CEOs are seeing appreciable success. An Association is enjoying their third year of above plan new member growth and a different CEO reports consistent double digit new member growth.

One Association Executive noted “the cookie cutter and boiler plate approach no longer works. Prospects want allies to help them achieve success in the marketplace.” Absolutely correct, anything less than that will close more prospect’s doors than it will open.

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

Is Your Association a Market Leader?

associationIs Your Association a Market Leader? Legendary business leader and former GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welch said ” if you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.”  Rightly so, Market Leaders consistently leverage their marketing prowess to dominate the sectors in which they serve. Failure to lead and compete effectively will result in a market share loss for Associations.

Market Leader Versus Market Participant

It’s risky for any Association to stay back with the pack. New coalitions, Association’s and Law Firms actively seek corporate funding tailored to meet short and long term policy or regulatory objectives. Competitive pressure builds constantly, Associations can ill afford to be passive.

Market Leaders that are astute: measure their impact in real time, execute multi channel marketing and communications strategies and continuously engage stakeholders and elected officials. They also build upon market strength, maintain their uniqueness, drive powerful value propositions while they meet and exceed their revenue objectives.

3 Strategies To Become a Market Leader

1. Build A Brand Fortress. Create and execute an ongoing marketing and communications program that emphasizes Association’s value proposition: providing insights, connections and advocacy for the industry. Be viewed as the premier Association leader in a sector. Issue experts visible in: social and traditional media, among elected officials and regulators.

2. Help Member’s Overcome Obstacles. The Association’s policy and regulatory agenda, grass roots programs, are harmonized to help members overcome legislative and regulatory hurdles.

3. Engage Members. Members view the Association as their strategic ally and their dues payments are perceived as an investment instead of an expense. The culture is seen as a community, members are invited to participate and share their perspectives. Staff, Members and Board Members see their roles as interconnected, everyone is working to achieve the same outcomes.

Market Leaders Consistently Execute and Deliver

Since they have a strong foundation, the Market Leader has clear cut objectives: Achieve policy and regulatory objectives, drive new membership growth, sponsor renewal and growth, sponsor sales, conference attendance growth.

Execution is a key aspect of a Market Leading Association, so much so that “getting it done” is ingrained in their DNA. Firing on all cylinders, they have regular team meetings to celebrate success and/or determine corrective steps to stay on target, performance rewards successful member engagement, advocacy and revenue growth throughout the year.

Is Your Association a Market Leader?

For several Associations, success and excellent performance are deliberate. These groups successfully transitioned from Market Participant to Market Leader. One Association became a market leader, built a brand fortress connected to member objectives and engaging members. By doing so they almost tripled revenues in just over two years. Another Association restructured an underperforming Division and achieved their first net gain performance in five years.

According to a recent Survey by the Business Roundtable, the “uncertain political environment” and unresolved U.S. Debt Crisis were identified as reasons for the economy showing only slight improvement. Achieving Market Leader status is as necessary as it is essential for Associations. As Companies evaluate their Associations, you can bet the Market Leaders will appear on the list of memberships to renew.  (http://bit.ly/1PACOCc)

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

association

Business Outcome Profile

business outcome profile

Business Outcome Profile

Getting the final membership commitment is difficult for many Associations. Companies remain uncertain about the economic environment and as a result they remain hesitant when it comes to joining another Association. Despite market resistance, new member growth and positive financial reports are expected at board meetings. CEOs continue to face interesting challenges on the membership growth front.

Plato reminds us that “necessity is the mother of invention” and thankfully so. Utilizing member data, Associations can construct a more innovative game plan to grow new members. CEOs and Senior Managers will be pleased to learn, notwithstanding impediments, that new member growth is well within their reach.

Business Outcome Strength Profile

Developing an Association Member Business Outcome Profile reflecting the most active and participative companies is a powerful resource for CEOs seeking a path to new member growth:

  1. How connected are we to Member Business Outcomes?
  2. What types of companies/ sectors actively participate in the Association today?
  3. Which products, services and policy committees draw consistent participation from these sectors?
  4. What are the pain point reasons motivating current members to participate as actively as they are?
  5. Which prospect companies reside in the same companies/sectors as your most active members?

Associations can develop an effective list of prospects in the same companies/sectors  as the most active members. Why? If the Member Business Outcome Profile shows strong support for the Association among existing members, it becomes more likely that prospects will be open to membership consideration.

Move Quickly

Having the benefit of data revealing strong support in key companies/sectors, new member recruitment should become an Association wide effort. Greater participation is a bellwether and Association CEOs should motivate all stakeholders to help achieve new member growth:

  • Board Members. Share the Member Business Outcome Profile and strategy with the Board. They’ll want to know their business outcomes are being met. Ask them to be on the team and open doors for staff to meet with prospects. Express appreciation and acknowledge their help at Board meetings.
  • Staff. Encourage staff throughout the Association to join the effort to grow membership. Keep them motivated through communication, share regular progress reports. 

Business Outcome Profile 

One Association achieved its first profitable year in almost five years utilizing a Business Outcome Profile. The following year they achieved the best growth performance in six years. Several other Associations doubled membership, achieved record sponsor performance and drove consistent  90% + retention performance.

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” said Albert Einstein. The global economy, and economic uncertainty make it difficult for Associations to achieve their new member objectives.  However, a  Business Outcome Profile identifies strategies to to link the Association with memebr business outcomes and create more opportunity to achieve and even surpass new member growth objectives.

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

the outcome profile