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

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.

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.