4 Association Disruption Strategies

4 Association Disruption Strategies

The 2017 PWC 20th annual CEO Survey, fourth quarter domestic GDP numbers and the 2017 Conference Board Global forecast of 2.3% economic growth show just how challenging business conditions are for today’s business decision makers. Organizations can help their members convert these challenges into growth opportunities by utilizing 4 Association Disruption Strategies. In doing so you, can position your organization as disruptive growth agents for the Industry or the Profession you serve.

Disrupt Ourselves

Embracing the hyper competitive environment is essential in a time of global uncertainty and disruption for all Association and Professional Society Leaders. “We have to disrupt ourselves every day,” notes Thayer Long, President of Reston, Virginia based NPES.  He points to how his Association is answering the call and positioning itself to be a growth agent for the printing and imaging industry.  In a recently completed Strategic Plan update, he reflects on how NPES with Board and Market guidance is addressing  challenges and competitive threats for the Industry and the Association.

Transforming into agents of change and growth helps keep your organization more relevant. In today’s environment, members demand real time solutions that advance their concerns and achieve results. By adding these 4 Association Disruption Strategies into your planning process, your organization becomes an important part of everyday conversations.

4 Association Disruption Strategies

  1. Obtain Actionable Data – Understanding challenges and opportunities for the Profession or Industry you represent is a must. Utilizing an impact and member engagement focused survey can help you obtain more realistic assessments of how relevant and connected your organization is to the outcomes that members seek to achieve. Taking your members pulse annually through impact and memebr engagement surveys will especially help keep your organization aligned with your members and their customers.

2.  Position the Association as an Outcome Driver Changing the conversation from “here’s what you get for your money” to “here’s the power of engaging with others in your Industry/Profession to create new, innovative solutions” positions your organization as a thought leader and a solution provider.

3. Deliver Products to Drive Impact  Avoiding the “all you can eat buffet” environment that adds more products dilutes value and dampens staff enthusiasm over time. This posture also causes your members to perceive your Association or Professional Society as less relevant. For example, a data based approach that utilizes survey results from members and their customers can validate what your members need to achieve their business outcomes.  Using this approach NPES was able to affirm the need to deliver actionable Industry Research for Global Print Manufacturers, Printers, and the Big Brand Companies.

4. Keep Strategic Plans NimbleAs business cycles shift, your organization must be able to adapt and remain relevant. For instance, it’s not yet clear on what the Post Brexit environment will look like nor is it clear how health care policy will evolve. Collaborating with your board to build and adjust an organization Business Plan instead of the traditional Strategic Plan helps you respond instantaneously to market changes.

Applying these 4 Association Disruption Strategies to develop your new Business Plan can help your Association or Professional Society accelerate its relevance and motivate higher levels of Member and Industry engagement. By doing so, your organization becomes the focal point for the Profession or Industry you represent. For NPES, extensive survey research and strategic deliberations with their board positions the organization as the focal point for the global imaging and printing industry growth.

4 Association Disruption Strategies

4 Association Disruption Strategies

The Merriam Webster definition of disrupt helps to frame the decision point for you as an Association Executive or an Executive Director:

  • “to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way: to interrupt the normal progress or activity of (something)”

In today’s uncertain and anemic growth environment, should Associations and Professional Societies utilize their Business Planning (formerly known as Strategic Planning) process to “disrupt themselves?” Is there any other choice?

4 Association Disruption Strategies

 

 

 

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

3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth

3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth

Global economic challenges from modest growth to market uncertainty continue to drive changes on how Trade Associations deliver value. In several instances, CEOs are collaborating with their boards and management teams to transform their organizations into strategic partners. These Associations are playing activist roles, they are engaging industry value chains and promoting the value that the industry and its products bring to customers and the marketplace. What is clear is that 3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth.

Strategic Member Engagement

Where member engagement once took a back seat to fighting fires and meeting budget expectations, a number of Associations have seized a new moment in time. These organizations are creating ongoing value by bringing the value chain together and engaging executives in ways that help them achieve industry outcomes. An example of how 3 engagement drives growth at Associations is the Arlington, Virginia based Aluminum Association, led by Heidi Biggs Brock, President and CEO.

  • Actionable Data

In addition to satisfaction survey data, the Aluminum Association utilizes ongoing qualitative and quantitative industry research to ascertain the primary internal and external operating and growth challenges facing the industry. The data provides context for annual conversations between Brock and the Executive Committee of the Board. These conversations lead to strategies developed by The Aluminum Association to address and drive industry challenges and outcomes thorough their organization. The strategies have Key Performance Indicators and they are reported through a Scorecard in the Aluminum Association’s Annual Report.

  •  Market Focus

The innovative association is more of an idea incubator, a place where new solutions are developed to advance & grow the industry. Rather than focus on internal issues, the organization is positioned with the industry as a community where companies along the value chain as well as  their customers gather to address critical issues, learn from each other, and grow the industry. This is another example of how 3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth.  Associations such as the Global Cold Chain Alliance, The Club Managers Association, and the Smart Electric Power Alliance all utilize similar approaches and they are growing.

Heidi Brock and her team utilize a clear market focus as their clarion call to provide industry standards data, knowledge sharing forums, and industry activities that demonstrate the value and uniqueness of aluminum.

  • Core Relevance

Instead of focusing on member satisfaction and product sales from an “all you can eat buffet”, innovative Associations understand the value of bringing everyone to the table to drive the industry’s success. This focus drives unique market positioning for the Association and reinforces the value and relevance of the Association to the entire value chain of the industry

The Aluminum Association, for example, works with industry customers to understand their challenges and provides opportunities for these issues to be addressed by the Association. Through this approach the organization establishes itself as a “leader & convener” for the industry.

Core relevance is a key driver and an important element of how 3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth.

3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth

Shortly, the U.S. will elect: a new President, one third of the Senate, and the entire House of Representatives. Already members of the Federal Reserve Board are urging increases in interest rates. In an era of disruption, innovation, and global uncertainty, Actionable Data, Market Focus, and Core Relevance are game changers for Associations. These 3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth. The Aluminum Association is utilizing these 3 Engagement Strategies to align their organization with the industry business outcomes that their members and their member’s customers care most about.

In uncertain times, increasing your Association’s connection with Industry Business Outcomes accelerates member engagement. It can also positively impact your organization’s business model.  The Aluminum Association is experiencing 11% membership growth, retention improved 3%, and their core revenue is 6% higher than the prior year.

Engagement Strategies Drive Growth

 

 

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

2017 Member Engagement Strategy

2017 Member Engagement Strategy

 

Market uncertainty and the pace of change will continue to impact membership decisions at professional societies and trade associations. Looming external factors will play a significant role in how membership decisions will be made.  The outcome of the U.S. Presidential and Congressional Elections, economic performance inside and outside the United States, mergers and acquisitions, baby boomer retirements, terror threats, and technology disruptions will influence whether or not professionals and corporate executives engage in their associations. Actionable Data can help organizations surface opportunities that can help members drive their professional and industry outcomes. Moreover, the data can serve as the foundation for a 2017 Member Engagement Strategy that can position your organization as a more relevant and necessary resource for your members.

Engage More and Sell Less

2017 Member Engagement StrategyIn terms of 2017 Member Engagement Strategy, utilize data and research to build your partnership with professions and industries. This can create a more positive dynamic that links your organization with the business and professional outcomes that members seek in an uncertain world. Getting your organization there requires a different look at the external landscape and the challenges that plague your members. Selling more or selling louder will hinder instead of help your 2017 Member Engagement Strategy.

Actionable Member Engagement Data

Understanding the extent to which your organization impacts industry or professional business outcomes is the foundation of your 2017 Member Engagement Strategy. Having actionable data (through focus groups, surveys, or industry or professional roundtables) helps your organization understand the external market challenges. Traditional satisfaction surveys and focus groups won’t provide the data that your organization must have to build an effective engagement strategy. What adds the most value is an Engagement and Impact dialogue where you surface more compelling professional and industry challenges and opportunities for your members.

In the 2014 Strategic Member Engagement Survey, organizations who regularly conduct impact surveys instead of “satisfaction” surveys report stronger operating performance than those who survey less frequently:

Survey Frequency Survey Annually Survey Infrequently
3-Year Operating Trends:
Retention up 31.90% 24.10%
Annual revenue up 55.10% 39.80%
Primary meeting registrations up 40.60% 31.30%
Fee for Service revenue up 43.50% 21.70%
Timely membership renewals up 31.90% 16.90%

Internal Perception Versus Member Reality

Associations and Professional Societies can avoid falling into a trap by separating internal perceptions from member realities. For example, securing actionable data focused on professional and industry business outcomes will help your organization build more meaningful 2017 Member Engagement Strategies.

In a recent Member Engagement Study released by Abila with surveys conducted by Edge Research , a new and unique approach helped uncover how and why members engage at membership organizations. The study reveals the differences in perception that occur from both a member and an organizational perspective. This research ventured to answer “four essential questions”:

  • What matters most to members when they join an organization?
  • What makes members feel involved and engaged?
  • How can Organizations better communicate?
  • Are organizations engaging members in a segmented, targeted, personal way?

Abila and Edge Research surveyed over 1,000 members in the United States in all age segments and also surveyed 150 Association Professionals. The online surveys were conducted between April 7 and April 25, 2016. Some of the differences in perceptions among members and professional membership organizations include:

  • Inclusiveness. Where 72 percent of organizational professionals see their organization as inclusive of different opinions, only 60 percent of the members who were surveyed share this view.
  • Responsiveness. Some 68 percent of members note their organizations as responsive, and 91 percent of organizations see themselves as responsive.
  • Good Value. From a member perspective, 63 percent see value for the membership fee. From an organizational perspective, 81 percent believe they are getting good value.

Utilizing survey approaches similar to this one will help your organization build a profession or industry focused 2017 Member Engagement Strategy. It’s all about how well you utilize the data to build engagement strategies that align with the challenges and opportunities that matter most to your members.

Drive and Help Define Their Future Outcomes

Associations and professional societies are facing increased competition from for profit companies, self-forming share groups, new associations and industry coalitions. Utilizing actionable data to develop your 2017 Member Engagement Strategy helps your organization establish uniqueness in the marketplace.  For example, the more your engagement strategy positions your organization to help support professional and industry outcomes for your members the better. Those organizations who have pivoted to this approach are impacting industry outcomes and reporting impressive operating performance:

2017 Member Engagement Strategy

A key component of your organization’s success will be your ability to unlock actionable data to construct its 2017 Member Engagement Strategy. Having data that surfaces new opportunities while it helps your organization develop meaningful 2017 Member Engagement Strategy can create the win you hope for next year and beyond.

2017 Member Engagement Strategy

 

 

 

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

post brexit associations

Post Brexit Associations

The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom along with modest and subdued global economic growth will continue to affect corporate decisions on external costs not related to top line growth and operating performance. Associations in a number of instances are increasingly more relevant, and have strategic objectives closely aligned with the industries they serve. These organizations also have the characteristics that define Post Brexit Associations.  However, in a rapidly evolving global market, how aligned is your association in order to help your members and their industries meet new challenges?

funding industry innovation

Funding Industry Innovation

Anemic economic performance is unfortunately becoming a mainstay in the U.S. economy. The release of the 3rd quarter GDP numbers where only 1.5% growth was reported is another reminder of how much the ground is shifting for associations. Companies will likely view membership through an even narrower prism of operating margins if economic conditions weaken further.  Associations who are Funding Industry Innovation can position themselves as essential partners in helping members achieve business outcomes.

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.

data driven innovation

Data Driven Innovation

Are economic tides shifting again? According to the Conference Board, corporate profitability may face headwinds resulting from higher costs as “the business cycle matures.” They also suggest that “America’s strength in technological progress needs to help accelerate productivity.”  If member companies introduce more innovation to drive more profitability, is your association positioned to respond with equal or greater amounts of innovative solutions?

knowledge economy

Association Loyalty or Engagement Strategy?

In an economy more driven by intellectual capital than ever before, executives actively seek information from multiple sources. Whether it be Greece’s Debt Crisis, market access concerns, or industries seeking new and more opportunistic markets, your members are “in the know” constantly. Is it more impactful to deploy an Association Loyalty Strategy or an Engagement Strategy?

Association Outside In

Association Outside In Case Study

If your members face top line growth challenges, generational transfer issues, and evolving consumer expectations, how can your Association support member success? Through a strategic planning process that transforms your organization from an inside out focus to an outside in focus. The process starts with a highly engaged and strategically focused board and concludes with a strategic plan amplifying industry growth objectives.