Association Speed to Market

Association Speed to Market

 As Associations compete for the seemingly smaller pool of corporate dollars, CEOs, senior managers, and boards want every possible competitive advantage.  With Conference and Training vendors fighting for their piece of the pie, they know how to leverage a powerful CRM (Customer Relations Management) and custom databases to get at the market place quickly. In order to remain competitive, Associations too need the same speed to market. There are plenty of technology tools and alternatives, however CEO’s and Senior Managers should begin the process with an information scan.

Start at the Beginning

Regardless of Association size, the effort  should start with a full inventory of member, sponsor and prospect data. Determine what exists and develop a smart list of what else is required. Most importantly, make sure that the Association is capturing up at night issues and company participation. This is the information that helps formulate Data Driven Strategies for organizations.

Know Thy Marketplace

Maintaining a full profile on key aspects of members, prospects and sponsors is essential.  Sir Francis Bacon noted that “Knowledge is power ” and for Associations, updated market information is omnipotent.

Every database should at a minimum contain the following information about members and sponsors, and have a treasure trove of data on prospective members:

Members and Sponsors

  • Issue and regulatory concerns that impact member or sponsor company’s ability to achieve their business objectives.
  • Participation in up at night issue activities, i.e. committees, calls to action.
  • Updated contact information for executives who approve member dues or sponsorship’s.
  • Complete descriptions of member and sponsor products and services and industries they serve.
  • Record of significant staff interaction with member and company executives.
  • Staff relationship owner.

Prospects

  • Issue and regulatory concerns that impact prospective member or sponsor company’s ability to achieve their business objectives.
  • Complete descriptions of products and services and industries they serve.
  • Board Members in similar industries or who have similar issue or regulatory concerns.
  • Participation in up at night issue activities, i.e. committees, calls to action.
  • Updated contact information for executives who approve member dues or sponsorship’s.
  • Inventory of Associations prospective members or sponsors participate in.
  • Record of significant staff interaction with member and company executives.
  • Staff relationship owner.

Ready to Add Speed to Market 

With complete member, prospect and sponsor profiles, Associations are then ready to add capacity.   The updated database is complete but not capable of driving speed to market. As the marketplace moves in real time, Associations require the capacity that only an effective CRM capable resource provides.

CRM capability should provide Association’s the ability to deliver:

  • Analytics reflecting member engagement and participation.
  • Net performance trends.
  • Member and prospective member or sponsor business outcomes.
  • Capacity to segment data and deliver focused messaging.

If an Association database and CRM are missing any of these elements they should identify new technology solutions that will complement their existing infrastructure.

Association Speed to Market

For Associations making the plunge adding speed to market at your association makes a difference. Leveraging updated data and CRM capacity, one Association doubled grass roots program participation and another Association achieved record conference profits.

Vendors are competing more aggressively than ever for their share of conference, sponsor, training, education and certification dollars. Although budget investments face increasing scrutiny, adding CRM capacity will enhance an Associations speed to market.

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

association speed to market

 

Great Strategy Deserves Strong Execution

great strategy

Great Strategy Deserves Strong Execution. After a rough patch, board members are confident that their new strategic plan brings the Association closer to their business objectives.  Board leaders are energized too, and they’ve debriefed their CEO and have requested a three year action plan with measurable results.

Genius Inventor Thomas Edison knew that transformation required more than good ideas when he said “Vision without execution is hallucination.” In a 24-7 world, execution is no longer a tactic, it must be a strategy for any Association or business venture. After all, Boards measure results and these are achieved on the basis of solid execution.

Execution is a Strategy and Not a Tactic

“Execution has to be in the culture” notes Larry Bossidy, former Chairman and CEO, Honeywell International, and Corporate Strategist Ram Charan, publishers of  EXECUTION, The Discipline of Getting Things Done, 2002 and 2009. The authors convey powerful examples of CEO’s who succeeded and failed based on their capacity to execute strategies.

Board members live in corporate cultures where metrics and data driven strategies define success or failure for their companies and their shareholders. They bring this proclivity into Association Board rooms and expect Chief Executives and their leadership team to provide them with action plans including metrics, dates and measurable results.

When the Board enthusiastically presents the newly minted strategic plan, they expect a power packed action plan matching and exceeding their expectations. Now what?

Execution Delivers Measurable Results

Measurable results are not about instilling fear, but about building a culture of expectation for Association staff. As leaders, CEO’s have the capacity to recalibrate and define expectations throughout the year. They can shift gears and utilize the new strategic plan to swing into immediate action.

CEO & Senior Management Teams own their execution, however it’s the Chief Executive who sets the tone and manages to the new expectation.

4 Steps to Strong Execution

1. Define Execution – Meet off-site with Senior Managers to formulate execution strategies. Be clear, the success measurement of the session is action plans, dates and measurable results. CEO’s should accept nothing less, and lead an energizing and optimistic session making execution the only outcome that matters. Capture specifics and schedule a second meeting.

2. Put Pieces in Place to Execute Effectively – At this meeting the CEO and Senior Managers need to align position descriptions, performance objectives and compensation. Each amplifies the execution mandate and the compensation plan should motivate the staff team to always exceed expectations.

3. Staff Assessment – Steps 1 and 2 are crucial, yet execution is only possible when Associations have the skills that match the execution expectation in place.   As leaders, an honest and objective review will insure that they are putting the best team possible on the field to compete and win.

4. Communication – W. Edwards Demming guides leaders to “inspect what you expect.” If execution and measurable results are expected,  then CEOs, Senior Managers and Supervisors must meet with direct reports on a regular basis, offer balanced feedback and focus on execution of objectives.  

Great Strategy Deserves Strong Execution

Following a record revenue losing year from weak execution, an Association Senior Manager embraced a similar 4 step approach and never looked back. Multi year growth performance followed while everyone reveled in a new culture of execution.

In the 2004 movie depiction of the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team’s breathtaking win over the mighty Soviet Hockey team, Coach Herb Brooks said that “Great moments are born from great opportunity.”  CEOs’ opportunity rests inside a culture of execution. If Board members expect their Associations to heed their clarion call, then Associations need a culture of execution to deliver measurable results.

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

great strategy

Associations’ Non Dues Revenue Puzzle

Associations’ Non Dues Revenue Puzzle

 Associations must keep pace in salary, benefits and member service offerings in order to remain competitive. While there is general agreement that  membership renewals and new member growth are essential for Associations, there is a growing need for alternate revenue streams, too.  Non dues revenues are increasingly more important for CEOs, Senior Managers and Boards of Directors’, they see the need to grow and understand there is no easy answer.

Definitions of non dues revenue are different from one Association to another. In some cases Training, Education, Digital Published Information and Conferences all contribute to revenue streams. However the definition and the focus of the revenue stream must be data based and member focused.

Yes, Associations can increase revenues but first they need to define and understand the existing member market first.  In “Profit From the Core, Growth Strategy in an Era of Turbulence” Chris Zook and Jim Allen, copyright 2010 Bain and Company(updated edition),  the authors present a compelling review process whereby a business develops boundary definitions, and determines marketplace differentiation to define new revenue growth opportunities.

Non Dues Revenue Checklist

Data Driven Strategies, Core Connections and Member engagement are as effective in identifying and growing non dues revenues as they are in retaining and recruiting new members. Boards utilize similar processes inside their companies and will appreciate the same thoughtful and deliberate approach at their Association:

1. Data Driven Strategies – Identify member business objectives, determine products, services, education, training, standards and certification that enhance member market performance. Conduct competitive market analysis understand what other Associations offer, conduct beta tests and develop robust offering which complement a strong policy, advocacy and regulatory offerings.

2. Core Connections – The strategic partnership is enhanced with a suite of value added resources. Associations can reinforce their credentials as a destination location with the most appropriate services.

3. Member Engagement – As is the case with policy and advocacy engagement members want to know they have an impact on outcomes. Provide opportunities to test new products and services and engage them in developing and designing your new offerings.

Associations should continually evaluate the efficacy of their offerings.  This process will help keep non dues revenue initiatives focused on member business objectives.

Associations Can Profit from the Core

Yes it really works! Associations are devising and developing leadership roles that complement their policy and advocacy work:

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) leads the HVAC industry with research and technical materials as well as online training.

Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) continually creates Societies to help their members address arising business needs.

National Institute of Investor Relations (NIRI) is building a certification program for its global membership.

A number of  Associations note that networking is a key element of the non dues revenue value proposition. In a number of cases, Associations utilize registration software allowing members to make networking appointments ahead of time.

Associations’ Non Dues Revenue Puzzle

When it comes to non dues revenue the Jerry McGuire “Show Me the Money” approach is a non starter. Why? Market competition, the rise of single issue coalitions and new Associations. Members expect connections to their business objectives, especially on products and services. Or they will vote with their check book and seek other solutions.

Market turbulence is now a part of the business landscape for Associations which means, any new products require the same type of due diligence before they go to market. Although there are no quick fixes, there is at least a method to make and build a case for products or services that add to member success.

non dues revenueFree eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com,www.icimo.com,and www.verticalleapconsulting.com.

 

Why Mentors Matter to Association CEO’s

Why Mentors Matter to Association CEO’s

For years, hard working executives build a path to the corner office. Then the day arrives, they’ve achieved their professional ambition and become an Association CEO.  Where do they turn for unfettered strategic guidance? What about Chief Executives struggling to achieve revenue growth, or the CEO wanting to take the Association to the next level of performance?  Clearly an effective board and skilled senior management team make a difference, but one question remains.  Do CEO’s, regardless of circumstances, have a safe space they can go to obtain good feedback?

In today’s uncertain environment being at the top of the staff pyramid is challenging on good days and daunting on bad days.  Wary Association Executives also know they need to tread lightly as there might be a political agenda hiding behind issues. Having a mentor, an objective impartial perspective, can make a big difference in how things work out for CEO’s.

Mentors Provide Safe Space

Whether be symptoms or even perceived red flags, CEOs need perspective in order to make sure the Association satisfies its members, grows revenues and achieves its mission. One Association staff leader likened his environment to a busy day to a walk through the world’s busiest airport, “chaotic with everyone going in their own direction.” Another leader defined their experience as  “herding cats in a thunder storm.”

Interestingly enough the August 2012 issue of Workforce Magazine, a University of Phoenix Alumni Association publication, cited a Fortune 500 Survey that “75% of Fortune 500 CEOs cited mentoring as one of the top three factors in their own career success.” Knowing this, Association CEOs could also be well served with effective mentors.

How does a CEO determine what Type of Mentor they Need?

Regardless of time in the position or tenure at an Association, identifying one or more mentors  is something every CEO can and should do.  First, however, an executive needs to develop a self profile based on the following:

 1. What is the current situation?  New CEO, first time CEO, promoted from within, etc.

 2. Are the issues facing the Association strategy or management and execution related?

 3.  What is the feedback from Board Leadership, colleagues and staff?

 4. An inventory of skills, strengths and weaknesses.

Develop four buckets, determine the drivers within each of the four categories and formulate a theme of issues that need to be addressed. Now a CEO is ready to determine the type of mentor that can be most helpful.

Next and Necessary Steps

A mentor can be a CEO colleague, a retired Executive, or a working professional not connected with the Association space. What matters most is a current Association Executive having the capacity to take a step back and assess what can be done to grow, improve and become a high performing leader.

Recruiting a mentor is straightforward, but it’s critical to have a one page summary outlining the 4 bucket strategy with clearly focused objectives.  The person you approach wants to know you’ve thought it through and you want their honest and objective guidance moving forward. There is no time limit, that is something a CEO and the prospective mentors determine in their work together.

A former colleague asked if more than one mentor could be helpful. Yes, as long as the objectives and desired outcomes are understood by both parties, more than one mentor can also be an effective strategy.

Why Mentors Matter to Association CEO’s

In a July 7, 2006 CEO Update article reflecting the complexity of issues facing today’s Executives  CEO Departures: What Went Wrong?” CEO tenure mirrors corporate America with an average span of only five years. While there are other factors that weigh heavily on CEO transitions, having a mentor can help a busy Chief Executive avoid the inevitable pitfalls.

 Mentors can, do, and will matter for Association CEOs. Having skilled, qualified and impartial observers provides the right level perspective and objectivity that makes a difference.

mentorsFree eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com,www.icimo.com,and www.verticalleapconsulting.com.

 

Should Associations Revisit Sponsorship? Maybe.

Should Associations Revisit Sponsorship? Maybe

 Although U.S. reports 3% GDP growth in the first quarter, financial news out of Europe is not encouraging. Companies especially maintain a watchful and wary eye on expenditures. Some Associations report single digit revenue growth, others show no year over year increase. Yes, Associations are facing stiff headwinds as they aggressively secure existing revenue, and, work diligently to grow new revenue. Before the great Recession Sponsor Revenue was more reliable, but not anymore. It makes sense for CEO’s to revisit the strategy and definition of Sponsor programs.

Sponsors similar to members and prospects face smaller corporate budgets and immense pressure to deliver ROI.   However, there is one key factor Associations need to be mindful of; In hard times membership and sponsorship both are on the chopping block. There is a way to reposition and strengthen Associations to drive renewals and new members. The good news? There is an innovative way to reposition and grow Association Sponsor revenues too!

Strategic Review of Sponsor Programs

One Association Executive recently bemoaned, “Sponsor revenues aren’t nearly what they once were and we’re losing money.” Clearly a time to reassess the strategy and be prospective.

The three step Assessment model works as effectively for Sponsors as it does for renewals and new member recruitment:

Data Driven Strategies. What were sponsor revenues from 2006 through 2008?  What were sponsor revenues 2009 through 2011? Which companies participated pre recession and which no longer participate? What changed in the Company Sponsor evaluation process pre and post recession? What are the Sponsor’s business objectives post recession versus pre recession? Does your Association work with a C Level Executive or are you working with the Marketing Department?  What program or attendance dynamics at your Association events changed pre and post recession? What are your Association’s competitors doing differently now versus pre- recession?  Does your Association utilize post event Sponsor Surveys?  If so,  what are the takeaways? In meeting with CEO or C Level executives, what message do they convey?

Core Connections. All of the Data will inform Associations and uncover opportunities including the need to build allies in the C Suite of Sponsors as much as you do members and prospects.  In addition, Associations could realize that Sponsors are most interested in being partners and supporting an industry key to their business success.  This is the NEW Core Connection and requires a new strategy; instead of the Sponsor Program, Associations reposition to a Corporate Partner Program. This is a transition allowing these companies to fully partner with your Association.

Corporate Partner Engagement. As Corporate Partners, C Level executives will be able to interact on equal footing. Associations may consider creating a Corporate Partner Advisory Council and provide these investors a seat at the table.  If they perceive an ability to impact the direction of the Association and they perceive a welcoming community, the strategic transition is complete. Sponsors are a thing of the past, Corporate Partners achieve the same status as members, they are part of the fabric of the larger Community.

Should Associations Revisit Sponsorship?  Maybe.

It was an “ah ha” moment for one Association. Suffering considerable sponsor revenue losses, the staff engaged Sponsors directly. What was learned? The Sponsor wanted a strong industry but indicated that one of the first cuts is in the Sponsor area. Consequently it was the Sponsor who   helped the Association see a new path. This particular Association drives over $1 million annually in Corporate Partner Revenues.

In a booming economy Sponsor revenue was more reliable, but that is no longer the reality.  Uncertain times require a new look at how Association’s drive revenues. Although some argue that hard work is the best growth strategy, working smarter could hold the key to a brighter future.  In this instance, a strategic shift to a Corporate Partner program is the smarter strategy to grow and maintain an important Association revenue stream.

revisit sponsorshipFree eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com,www.icimo.com,and www.verticalleapconsulting.com.

 

What creates a willingness for Association culture change?

This is the fifth in a series on Association culture, its role, how it is shaped, and how it can be changed.

by John M. Bernard

What creates a willingness for Association culture change? So much has been written about change management. However, during my 30+ years doing this work I have discovered the primary lever to successful change, especially cultural change. Understanding that lever doesn’t mean Association culture change comes easily, but it does significantly increase the chance of success.

The primary lever to successful Association culture change is that the change makes sense to people.

In my experience, the reason our Association management system drives culture change is not mysterious.  In fact, the management system works because the underlying premise rings true in people’s heads and hearts.

What is is true about the Association management system are the following beliefs:

  • Every human being has gifts, interests, and passions
  • Every employee wants to be in service to some effort or cause bigger than themselves
  • Leaders must respect what people have to offer and effectively put it to work to create winning organizations

This set of beliefs — in the value of each and every human being — is what breathes energy and excitement into the Associations that choose to work with us.

Change They Believe In

Association CultureAs you look at Association culture change, understanding that people will embrace change they believe in, establishes the test for the success of any change effort.

Once people understand that their Association leaders authentically share in beliefs such as those mentioned above — and genuinely want to bring them to life — they cannot help but respond supportively.

Change is never easy, but it is much easier when it is good and when it is right.

What creates a willingness for Association culture change?

I’ll close with one thought, one that has become very clear to me as Mass Ingenuity grows. We as a company have to be diligent about preserving our foundational beliefs in the inherent good of people. As we grow, this is sacred ground for us, ground which we must protect because it is the foundation of our success.

Next week I’ll share some thinking on the ways on organization’s culture can hamper change.

Association Assessments: Critical for New CEO

 Association Assessments: Critical for New CEO

 On their first day, new Association CEO’s realize they are months away from making final decisions or presenting recommendations to their Board of Directors. Most of what they need to get their arms around is identified in a thorough Association wide assessment. It’s a challenging and critical task.  Done well, the new Leader can establish firm footing with their stakeholders, and launch their Association on a path of satisfaction and unheralded revenue and membership growth.

CEO’s who worked through this experience understand this process can be either a game maker or a game breaker. There is ample evidence supporting the connection between record performance and a well executed Assessment process.

Know What You Don’t Know

In any transition the Board of Directors expects a complete review of the Association. Consequently the new CEO should be prepared to aggressively pursue a thorough Assessment as much as they did their job. Some call the process ripping the bark off the tree while others view this initiative as peeling back the layers of an onion.

Utilizing the three step process, Data Driven Strategies, Core Connections and Member Engagement process, new CEO’s can inventory key gaps and include these and recommendations in a board presentation. It’s important to engage the staff team as much as possible throughout the process. Transitions by nature are disruptive; involving staff does help maintain good morale.

1. Data Driven Strategies – Measure the actual impact the association has in real time, and take extra steps to obtain business intelligence. Soon enough it will help align the association’s strategies to member’s “pain point” issues.

Action Steps:  Confirm veracity of the Association’s financial standing including cash flow and cash balances. Confer with the Auditors, review at least three years’ worth of audits. Conduct a market competitiveness assessment, define member pain points, review existing contracts, and confirm there are no pending or threatened or legal action against the Association. Become familiar with governance issues as quickly as possible.

2. Core Connections Determine to what extent the Association is positioned to help member companies achieve their business objectives.

Action Steps: Review staffing structure, annual budget, advocacy agenda, products and services, website, social media strategy, position descriptions and performance objectives. These all must mirror “pain point” issues, those that don’t can be included in a board action plan.

3. Member Engagement –  A new CEO must identify whether or not member company executives view participation as impactful. Why? Securing the member revenue base is critical, steps must be taken to understand if members feel engaged with their Association.

Action Steps:  Review participation data at all programs and conferences from all member companies.  Large Trade Associations should assess participation from their largest dues paying members. The data may reveal significant gaps that must be addressed.

Association Assessments: Critical for New CEO

With a completed Assessment, new CEO’s are prepared to share recommendations with their Board of Directors for feedback and approval. Board leaders appreciate the candor. A forward looking vision that engages members, achieves member satisfaction, and delivers durable revenue growth is a win for the new Chief Executive.

While the temptation to take more immediate action is tempting, a thorough assessment will help new Executives build growth focused Association (see blog post http://bit.ly/17838wi). The process may take three to six months to complete, CEO’s will not regret time and effort  invested. It’s better to “identify the good, the bad and the ugly up front” says Paul T. Stalknecht, President and CEO, Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).

Commercial Real Estate Finance Council (CREFC) CEO Steve Renna completed an exhaustive assessment process. Experiencing double digit revenue growth and growing conference attendance confirms how important it is for a new CEO to learn as much as possible before moving forward(see blog post http://bit.ly/117oxC3).

New CEO’s please note: In an era of ongoing uncertainty, top to bottom assessments of can position you and your Association for revenue and membership growth.

association assessmentsFree eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com,www.icimo.com,and www.verticalleapconsulting.com.

 

Seeds of Association Growth Inside Strategic Plan

Seeds of Association Growth Inside Strategic Plan

 Association Executives can rely on their Strategic Plans to direct strategy, staffing and budget investment year over year. The document is developed on a foundation of data driven strategies, core connections and member engagement. Taken together these elements can assist Association’s achieve their mission, satisfy members and sponsors and attract non members to join. While there may be no certain way to success, the Strategic Plan is a likely starting point.

Governance

Based on recent history, CEO’s experience greater boardroom participation than ever. The great recession compelled Board members and leaders to play an increasing role as fiduciaries. For CEO’s this can be welcome news, after all Board Leaders want to solve problems and they’re willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever possible to help their Associations achieve success.

It’s a perfect time to join forces, collaborate and achieve the win-win that makes an Association durable, relevant and successful.

Seeds of Association Growth

CEO’s can develop a performance dashboard, match it with the strategic plan and develop a priority list of possible solutions to engage the Board of Directors. This level of transparency will breed trust and display the level of leadership they expect in uncertain times.

Understandably Strategic Plans in a number of cases are out of date, this creates an even bigger opportunity:

Data Driven Strategies – Survey the membership, include non members and sponsors. Organize an internal marketing committee and conduct a competitive intelligence exercise. Develop themes and match them with current strategies and investments.

Core Connections – The updated dataset will help Associations reconnect or establish an even closer connection with their members business objectives.

Member Engagement – Data and participation metrics could either reassure Associations or cause them to transform their culture once again. Members want to know they are having impact on policy direction, otherwise they invest their time somewhere else.

Throughout this effort Associations are planting the seeds of growth, because data driven strategies, core connections and member engagement are key to member satisfaction and long term revenue growth.

Make Revenue Growth Possible

CEO’s can now deliver to their Board an action plan based on actionable data and member business concerns. They’ll know they had a hand in repositioning their Association. By all means suggest quarterly progress updates, reinforce the partnership achieved in the process to keep them engaged.

It’s now a good time to ask for their help, however the request should focus on Pain Point Initiatives identified in the Strategic Planning Process:

Deploy member recruitment campaigns – Your requests must reflect the Association’s policy agenda and require just a few minutes of the Board Member’s time. Show how the new revenue helps the Association achieve objectives outlined in the updated Strategic Plan.

Invite participation on at-risk member strategies – As Board participants they know the value provided to members and can be very helpful.

In these and other cases where you engage the Board, express appreciation and report the outcome. Tally the successes and then acknowledge the individuals who were helpful.

Seeds of Association Growth Inside Strategic Plan  

One CEO utilized this approach to realize a new revenue stream and grow membership. In another case a CEO doubled sponsor sales. Planting the seeds of Association growth in ground fertilized with data driven strategies, core connections and member engagement works.

It’s useful to leverage every approach available to drive member and sponsor satisfaction while Association’s achieve revenue growth. While boards hold CEO’s accountable, Board and CEO success or failure are inextricably linked. In baseball terms we know this approach “as stepping into the pitch.” Today CEO’s should step up to the plate and swing away.

strategic plan Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com,www.icimo.com,and www.verticalleapconsulting.com.

 

CEO Doubles Association Membership

CEO Doubles Association Membership

While the road to success differs from one Association to another Data Driven Strategies, Core Connections and Member Engagement are critical to success. How these are applied are a different story. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) led by Paul T. Stalknecht, President and CEO, www.acca.org, are entrepreneurs and a mirror image of their members. Member focus and risk taking swelled their membership ranks from 2,000 to almost 4,000. The story doesn’t end there either as ACCA revenues have growth by some 272% during Stalknecht’s twelve year tenure.

Building a Foundation

Similar to many new CEO’s, Stalknecht conducted an extensive due diligence process. Upon his arrival he actively and aggressively asked key questions to learn as much as possible, separating the information into three distinct categories: Administrative issues, Membership marketing and Governance.  Over an intensive six month process, he spoke with staff, members and his board to gain a full understanding of all of the issues facing the Association.

Stalknecht assimilated all of the information into a power point document. The extensive report outlined areas of concern and clear action steps that ACCA should take in order to move the Association forward. Receiving Board support, he built a foundation which delivered almost 10 consecutive years of profitability.

Entrepreneurial Culture

Throughout the conversation, it’s easy for an observer to note Stalknecht’s self awareness. Openly he acknowledges his weaknesses before his strengths. However, he demonstrates how an effective leader leverages his skill gaps as opportunities to recruit high performing executives to help him build a high performing Association.

His passion about hiring the best people available would over time prove to be one of two game changing decisions for ACCA. Interestingly enough, the three Senior Vice President’s he hired from the beginning of his CEO service are still on staff at the Association.

Mickey Mantle Approach

Regardless of Baseball Team allegiance, what is compelling is how Stalknecht encourages risk taking. With margins of error narrow, he encourages his team to use a data driven strategies and feedback mechanisms to pursue new product or service ideas for the membership. The explosive revenue growth shows how taking a good hard swing at the pitch could pay off in the long run.

Core Connections

Core Connections means Associations position themselves as strategic partners helping member, prospect and sponsor companies achieve their business objectives. That is especially the case at ACCA. Their revenue streams, staff structure and capability are all connected to helping their market place achieve its business objectives. An integral part of this Association’s culture is listening.

Mapping to Core Connections

With annual revenues approaching $7 million, ACCA delivers income from three areas: Membership dues, Products and Training and their Meetings and Corporate Partner Program. Sitting atop of a diverse revenue streams is both necessary and advantageous. The membership, comprised of small company entrepreneurs, experienced considerable turnover which impacts the Association’s retention.  Recognizing this early on, Stalknecht and his team made key adjustments.

Game Changers

Prior to his arrival at ACCA Stalknecht observed the lack of a full time research and engineering staff. Building a highly skilled team the Association delivers leading standards and certification in printed materials and online training programs for the entire HVAC industry. Approximately one third of revenues emanate from their educational training and products area.

A critical shift during the great recession turned out to the “grand slam” ACCA needed. A Sponsorship program was newly defined as a Corporate Partner program. Companies now had an opportunity to invest in ACCA’s groundbreaking education and training programs and it’s advocacy mission. Company ROI is now realized all year long and at the annual convention. What was once a revenue stream of $140,000 well surpasses $1 million.

Tracking and Accountability

Stalknecht  emphasizes the importance of accountability and measuring  progress. Each day he views a cash flow report and profit and loss performance to make sure bottom line performance is meeting or exceeding his high expectations.

CEO Doubles Association Membership

Data Driven Strategies, Core Connections and Member Engagement are all part of CEO Paul Stalknecht’s leadership toolbox. What matters most to Stalknecht and his team is delivering the best possible ROI to his members and the HVAC community. Few would question a Team of entrepreneurs whose Manager applauds his team as they circle the bases year after year.

doubles association membership

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com,www.icimo.com,and www.verticalleapconsulting.com.

 

3 Strategies CEO’s Use to Double Association Revenue

3 Strategies CEO’s Use to Double Association Revenue

 No surprises at end of the first quarter 2013. Political gridlock looms over Washington, DC, a tough and competitive environment for U.S. companies exists and Associations still face an uncertain environment. Regardless, some Associations formulate consistent paths to double digit growth. As remarkable as it sounds, these Associations are well ahead of the curve.

With 75% of the calendar year remaining, Association CEO’s can look to real time examples they can apply to quickly reverse their fortunes and deliver strong membership and revenue growth.

3 Strategies CEO’s Use to Double Association Revenue:

1. Data Driven Strategies

 Association Strategy Consultant and Potomac Core Blog Contributor Steve Lane, Vertical Leap Consulting www.verticalleapconsulting.com identifies these as “member up at night issues.” Rightly so, these are the issues that matter most to the companies paying dues to Associations. This focus also helps Associations measure the impact they have in real time. Relentless identification of key driver issues is a key characteristic of Associations who drive double digit growth.

Tino Mantella, President and CEO, Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) www.tagonline.org utilizes an annual Decision Maker Study (see blog post http://bit.ly/1n1RP0Z) . The Data confirms value delivered and uncovers new opportunities to address members concerns. It provides actionable intelligence helping to shape programs and activities throughout the year. Success seems to breed more success for TAG. At a time when Associations struggle to clear the 5% growth threshold, Mantella and his high performing team delivered 600% growth from $500,000 in 2004 to $3.4 million in 2012.

2. Core Connections

Data Driven Strategies builds out a data dashboard of member, prospect and even sponsor “pain points,” including the impact Associations have in real time. Associations apply the pain point data to link programs, products and service execution to member business objectives.  Core Connections means Associations position themselves as strategic partners helping member, prospect and sponsor companies achieve their business objectives.

As Associations reinforce Core Connections, they provide the necessary level of impetus to engage and satisfy members, and recruit new members and sponsors. These are the connections that help Associations reflect and effectively serve their communities.

For NIRI President and CEO Jeff Morgan, www.niri.org, Core Connections were key as they helped his Association establish uniqueness and enhance its competitive position (see blog post http://bit.ly/10prZJo)Morgan’s strong 17% non U.S. membership growth performance (over three years) confirms that the connection to member business objectives has impact.

3. Member Engagement

Member engagement is a crucial ingredient, Associations who have doubled growth are effective because they have cultures that link their members, staff and board. They transformed their cultures from “we/they” to “We.” For Gregory Casey, President and CEO, BIPAC www.bipac.net/bipac, almost every day is an act of engagement (see blog post http://bit.ly/ZFU6jx). At his organization, helping his members achieve their policy objectives is a passion as much as it is the mission. For ten years, Casey’s relentless member engagement and execution of customized policy solutions has distinguished BIPAC. Over the last ten years Casey’s BIPAC achieved double digit growth.

3 Strategies CEO’s Use to Double Association Revenue

Data Driven Strategies, Core Connections and Member Engagement. Associations that utilize these strategies to connect to their members, prospects and sponsors do deliver ROI and achieve double digit growth, which isn’t an easy task in today’s rough and tumble environment. Portrayed in the movie “Without Limits, Steve “Pre” Prefontaine, (an American middle and long-distance runner who competed in the 1972 Olympics) quipped to his Coach Bill Bowerman “…when you set the pace you control the race.” Setting an impressive pace, Associations too can control the race and achieve double digit growth.

 

double association revenueFree eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com,www.icimo.com,and www.verticalleapconsulting.com.