3 Critical Member Engagement Questions

Member Engagement questions3 Critical Member Engagement Questions. While CEOs and senior managers define member engagement differently, they all agree it’s an important component of their future strategy. With ongoing Washington, DC gridlock and a low growth economy, Associations and Societies see member engagement as an opportunity to best connect members to their organizations.

Have You asked the 3 Critical Questions?

Peter Drucker notes “My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.” When it comes to Member Engagement, knowing the right questions to ask is mission critical to accelerating participation and growing revenue:

  1. Has your Association surfaced linkages between its member engagement practices and its business model?
  2. Does your organization track contribution and collaboration behaviors that are predictive of even stronger levels of future engagement?
  3. From a member perspective, does your Association bring together constituencies creating new solutions; driving member value that shapes both industries and professions?

Answers to these three questions could provide key data that could better link organizations with their market place. However, knowing what the broader Association community is applying effectively would also be useful.

3 Critical Member Engagement Questions

member engagement questionsThe recent Federal Government shutdown is a reminder on how complex the Association marketplace is nowadays. Asking the right questions and having survey data will provide clarity as senior managers prepare and finalize their 2014 budget proposals.

 

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

 

Member Engagement: Call to Action

Member Engagement Member Engagement: Call to Action. Three organizations, Potomac Core Consulting, Vertical Leap Consulting and icimo are joining forces to conduct a Member Engagement Strategies Survey. Unlike any other to date, the survey focuses on Member Engagement as a game-changing growth strategy. The primary objective of the survey is to identify innovations and leading-edge practices in member engagement.

Define Future Member Engagement Levels

Potomac Core President & CEO Daniel A. Varroney notes “we’ll surface linkages between member engagement practices and an association’s business model.” Vertical Leap President  Steve Lane adds “we’ll also discover examples where associations are tracking contribution and collaboration behaviors that are predictive of even stronger levels of future engagement.”

Member Engagement: Call to Action

The online survey is being conducted during October and sent electronically to more than 5,000 Association and Society Executives around the United States.

Bryce Gartner, CEO of icimo notes: “The survey is built around core principles.  At the heart of these principles is the Association’s value premise.  Associations are positioned to bring together constituencies creating new solutions; driving member value that shapes both industries and professions.”

Potomac Core – Association Consulting, www.potomaccore.com, is a Washington, DC area custom focused one stop shop delivering highest quality growth strategies and solutions to U.S., National, and International Associations and Professional Societies. We help your Association surface actionable, market-based data. Then we create discussions about your member’s business outcomes to align your Association with their business outcomes.

Vertical Leap Consulting, www.verticalleapconsutling.com, is all about growth and positioning strategies for associations and healthcare organizations. Founded in 2002, we are headquartered in the Montgomery County, Maryland suburbs of Washington D.C.  We assist executives and boards who face tough challenges and compelling reasons to enhance their organization’s impact.

icimo, www.icimo.com, headquartered in the North Carolina Triangle Area offers software and services that gets any size organization using their data quickly.  Our tools combined with training and best practices give clients a jump-start to being data driven, transforming “big data” from buzzword into successful real world strategies for driving results by turning insights into action.  

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

Association Membership Not Growing?

association membershipAssociation Membership Not Growing? With senior management teams developing next year’s budgets, it’s good a time to conduct a survey and assess your associations impact. The results and a competitive market assessment will be helpful in constructing a membership growth strategy. Associations who have not experienced membership growth will find this approach helpful.  It will reveal strengths, opportunities, and weaknesses, all of which can be leveraged into actionable growth strategies.

Laser Market Focus

Individuals and corporations make membership decisions based on their Association’s ability to impact priorities that matter most to them. Whether it be legislative, regulatory, training, or certification related, they are all evaluated. Associations that convert actionable data into tangible solutions will improve their retention and growth opportunities.

Relevance

Companies conduct internal assessments before they join or renew Association memberships. Members “stay or leave” and prospects “join or go somewhere else” based upon their perception of an organization’s impact. They measure “relevance” as an Association’s capacity to help companies or individuals achieve their business, professional, or personal objectives.

Quantify and Qualify

Impact surveys should become part of an Association’s DNA. Why? Organizations that consistently benchmark products and services based on their marketplace are better positioned that those who don’t.

The impact survey is all about member/prospect “up at night” issues. Answer these key questions:

  1. What is the financial impact on professional and or corporate business objectives?
  2. How do current programs, services, and the advocacy agenda address the financial impact of “up at night” issues?
  3. Do proposed program changes or new initiatives help members and prospects achieve success?
  4. From the member and prospect vantage point, what else can the Association do? 

Association Membership Not Growing?

Associations who want to grow should be seen as strategic partners. Once your Association is viewed as a strategic partner, membership growth and higher retention follow. Keep in mind that several Associations already using this approach have seen double digit growth. Why not give it a try? A growth formula you can use immediately:

Member Impact Survey & Competitive Assessment + Actionable Growth Strategies = Membership Growth.

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

association membership

Member Engagement Drives Revenue

member engagementMember Engagement Drives Revenue. Associations continue to leverage Member Engagement as part of a long term strategy that secures and grows their revenue base. In order to add heft to their efforts, some CEOs utilize data driven strategies to guide investment of budget resources and staff time. At NIRI, the National Investor Relations Institute for instance, Jeff Morgan, President & CEO consistently aligns his organization with its members and their marketplace through monthly surveys and strategic plan updates.

Business Intelligence

NIRI www.niri.org is the professional association of corporate officers and investor relations consultants who are responsible for communication among corporate management, shareholders, securities analysts and other financial community constituents. Its 3,300 members represent some 1,600 publicly held companies with $9 trillion in stock market capitalization.

“In a big data and fast moving world, NIRI keeps pace with our membership by staying connected” says CEO Jeff Morgan.

Monthly Pain Point Survey

Associations and Professional Organizations who successfully engage their members show their connection to core member business needs. NIRI engages their members with a monthly survey instrument in order to drive engagement. While industry standards are not as robust, the organization achieves a consistent 20% response rate.

The most recent survey inquired about resources and tools available to assist public companies in shareholder identification as well as suggestions for improving the current system. The survey summary will be utilized by the NIRI Board of Directors in its September meeting with the SEC staff on improving shareholder engagement.

Member Engagement Drives Revenue

NIRI’s engagement focus accelerated member renewals and continue to help grow membership internationally. The organization has also replenished its reserves in the aftermath of the great recession.

Jeff Morgan knows the dynamic global economy will “consistently challenge his members.” He indicates that their data driven market focus will keep the organization “aligned with its member’s business needs.”

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

member engagement

Want Association Revenue Growth in 2014?

association revenue growthWant Association Revenue Growth in 2014?  Association CEO’s and the senior management teams are looking ahead. Budget discussions are underway and board leadership wants to see an Association revenue growth budget. Corporate profitability is rebounding and the expectation is that Associations too will achieve the same level of robust growth. What can Associations do to improve their competitive edge and grow in 2014?

Stiffening Competition

Renewals remain challenging and while organizations are seeing increases in new member growth they wonder how long it continues. It’s not just the economy anymore, Association Executives for the most part are experiencing increased competition. For profit companies continue to enter markets once owned exclusively by Associations. In addition, new solutions including Not for Profit organizations, coalitions and consulting companies are offering competing products and services.

Sharpen Your Competitive Edge

Thanks to new technologies, data is more accessible than ever before. Associations who capture, interpret and apply data driven strategies can dramatically improve their competitive positioning. In a real time world data provides Associations with speed to market.

These 3 Steps Work

  1. Competitive Analysis. Hard knuckle comparison to other Associations and solutions.   What are the gaps and opportunities?
  2. Impact Survey. Engage your members. For example, products, services and advocacy.   Are they impactful? What can your Association do to best connect to member business needs and objectives?
  3. Business model. Utilize the competitive analysis and the impact survey data to adjust shape a business model that accelerates your Association’s impact.

Buy In

Share the data with your executive committee; seek their input on accelerating your Association’s impact. Engage your senior management team. Work with them to build a vision in that closely reflects the data and the executive committee’s perspectives. They will see the staff efforts as prudent and timely.

Want Association Revenue Growth in 2014?

A number of Associations are experiencing membership growth and increased participation. Recognizing heightened competition they utilized data driven strategies to improve their competitive position. In some instances Associations doubled revenue. How? Better differentiated value and accelerated member participation.

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

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.

4 Pain Point Takeaways

 pain point takeaways4 Pain Point Takeaways. Regardless of the procedure, Hospital stays are daunting for any patient. A recent experience showed that under the right conditions a patient’s pain expectations can be addressed. Upon discharge it was clear that a chorus of Doctors, Nurses, Physical Therapists, Physicians’ Assistants, hospital staff and volunteers had successfully addressed the patient’s pain point needs. 4 Pain Point Takeaways learned from this experience can be as powerful if they are applied in the Association marketplace.

Engagement, Compassion, and Skill

The complexities facing Hospitals and Associations are striking. What are the most obvious? Both face a fluid and complex marketplace.  How so? All encompass market needs, constantly changing technologies, cost pressure and patients/members who vote with their feet and go somewhere else.

4 Pain Point Takeaways:

 1. Engagement

  • Consistently identify, quantify and track pain points
  • Partner with members to discuss and formulate solutions
  • Members experience a “We focused” approach to challenges and solutions
  • Members perceive the pain point solutions as connected to personal and business objectives

 2. Culture of Compassion

  • Create, reinforce, and augment a member centered culture
  • Recognize and enthusiastically encourage compassionate centered staff
  • Respond timely and appropriately
  • Always establish and reinforce bonds of empathy

 3. Skill

  • Hire highly skilled team members
  • Provide training to maintain high skill levels
  • Benchmark skill levels against competition, make necessary adjustments

 4. Data

  • Survey members and determine if pain point needs have been addressed
  • Establish performance metrics to measure pain point satisfaction
  • Quickly identify and address performance improvement needs
  • Implement performance reward programs recognizing top performers

Community and the Human Connection

Another important lesson from the Hospital experience? Never discount or dismiss the power of Community and the Human Connection. After all, patients select Hospitals in the same way Association prospects make choices on where they will be the most comfortable. In a recent Post (http://bit.ly/1aTb6xM), the importance of community and human connection was cited in Starbucks global success story. Starting with a cup of coffee, Starbucks’ success, in large part, relies on human connection and the sense of community they provide.

In the end, a sense of community in today’s competitive world attracts patients as it does Association members.

4 Pain Point Takeaways 

Isaac Asimov once said that “Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” Surgery and a two day hospital stay provided pain relief and a learning experience. The Hospital Community, through it’s impressive performance, showed how powerful pain point strategies can work. Using these approaches, Associations gain added capacity, helping them build member connections and lasting relationships.

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

Member Perspective: Should We Renew?

member perspective

On any given day a corporate executive receives a renewal invoice from an Association or a Society. By week’s end, several more renewal invoices cross the same desk. What happens next? It’s critical to know what happens next or chances are a letter of resignation is on the way. In an uncertain economy, corporations and individuals hold memberships to a very high standard. Organizations should look at renewals from a member’s perspective, doing so will help secure the dues and the member relationship. (http://bit.ly/1FBNn5j)

Life Inside Member Companies

A corporate executive that survives downsizing wears several hats. The days are packed with meetings, and weeks seemingly are spent visiting customers. Complicating matters, Publicly Held Companies are laser focused on quarter and year end results. Earnings results must meet or exceed stockholder expectations, there is no wiggle room. Life on the inside is tough, what can Associations and Societies do to uncover opportunities to uncover opportunities and deliver value?

3 Questions that  Help Earn Renewals

1. What is the dollar impact of policies on members? Not less than six months prior to renewal, meet with dues decision makers. Bring an legislative and regulatory impact statement to the meeting. Inquire how these issues will impede the company from achieving profit targets in the next five years. Vigorously quantify and qualify policy impact. ( http://bit.ly/1btcvac)

2. Are your member’s participating in areas that impact them? Knowing the policy areas that have the greatest impact, review and confirm  participation in the most critical areas to the company. Some executives may have transitioned out to a new company. If so, there is a new opportunity to engage new executives. Ask the company contact for an introduction.

3. Can we Confirm a Policy Briefing on “Pain Point” Issues with Issue Experts? Leverage an opportunity to demonstrate value on the member company’s “Pain Point Issue” Concerns. Ask the dues decision maker to invite the C Suite and executives to participate in a Conference Call, Video Conference or Webinar focused on their business outcomes. Make it easy to say yes by having a prepared invite for the company contact to send out right away.

Member Perspective: Should We Renew?

Member PerspectiveBusy executives welcome the opportunity to share their concerns.  However they appreciate an organization’s commitment to provide service in areas that impact their business objectives. Companies are tuned to their own channel “WIIFM” What’s In It For Me.” When they share their concerns, they will respond positively when they see engagement in areas that impede their business.

Unquestionably member renewals comprise a substantial portion of Association and Society revenues. Staying focused from a member perspective helps organizations focus on the dues payers.

Associations and  Societies around the country using this or similar approaches have celebrated success many times over. Secure membership bases helped some Associations reach stretch goals that may not have been possible otherwise. One Association doubled membership while another reached past the $1 million threshold in net dues growth. What made the difference at these Associations and Societies? The ability to see member business objectives as their own and, developing solutions to help members overcome impediments to meet or exceed their goals.

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