Strategic Member Engagement: Accelerant to Association Membership Growth And Retention

Strategic Member Engagement

Strategic Member Engagement: Accelerant to Association Membership Growth & Retention

A groundbreaking survey on Strategic Member Engagement shows that Trade Associations and Professional Societies reporting upward 3-year operating results are far more likely to have better data about  member issues, have a very high level of board understanding and strategizing about the outcomes members seek and, importantly, actively engage members in creating new solutions. A great deal of actionable data about how these associations are positioning for long-term success is uncovered in a joint survey conducted through the collaborative effort of Vertical Leap Consulting, Icimo, and Potomac Core – Association Consulting.

The Survey, polling 307 executives of national/international trade associations and professional societies, was conducted in October and November 2013.

Strategic Member Engagement Seen As Driver

In reporting the survey outcomes, Bryce Gartner of Icimo, LLC,  Dan Varroney of Potomac Core – Association Consulting, and Steve Lane of Vertical Leap Consulting emphasized “strategic member engagement is not about touchy feely member interface, short term sales strategies, or administering tracking reports. Instead, it is a game changing accelerator of Professional Society and Trade Association growth and positioning strategies. Our research surfaces just how much of a driver strategic member engagement is for an association’s business model and  the long-term, differentiating value provided to its profession or industry.”

Strategic Member Engagement: Accelerant to Association Membership Growth And Retention

Organizations with upward trending 3-year operating results reported the strongest capabilities are far more likely to better understand member up-at-night issues and to engage members in acting upon those needs. These Association Executives were far more likely to report strong performance in Member Retention, Annual Operating Revenue, Registrations to Primary Annual Meetings, Annual Revenue from Fee for Service Offerings, and Timely Membership Renewals.

losing large association membersA free copy of the “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” eBook, is available at Potomac Core – Association Consulting, Vertical Leap Consulting, and Icimo

 

Association CEO Nails Critical Member Engagement Question

member engagement questionAssociation CEO Nails Critical Member Engagement Question. As the economy grows at what some economists call a “snail’s pace,” an Association CEO who knows the right question to ask is worth their weight in gold. Just ask Julia Hamm, the energetic and passionate President & CEO of a dynamic enterprise, the Solar Electric Power Association www.solarelectricpower.org. In the three year window,  between 2009-2011, SEPA membership grew 50%.The industry Trade Show (SEPA partners with the Solar Industry Association) blossomed from 1,100 attendees in 2004 to 25,000 in 2010.

One Critical Member Engagement Question

“From a member perspective, does your Association bring together constituencies creating new solutions; driving member value that shapes both industries and professions?” Serving a combined national membership of Solar Industry Companies (manufacturers, project developers and finance firms) and Electric Utilities, SEPA leverages its strategic plan to deliver products and services shaping Solar Industry acceptance and business success.

Listen, Learn & Lead

Annual member surveys and “going deep” inside member companies to best understand how the organization can deliver value aligns SEPA closely with its dues payers. Programs including: Solar Power International, The Solar Industry Member Advisory Council (SIMAC), The Utility Solar Conference forum for utilities, One Hour Monthly webinars & Fact Finding Missions attract strong participation and reinforce the Association’s solid value proposition.

Association CEO Nails Critical Member Engagement Question

With her strong staff team, board of directors and 900 members , SEPA Chief Executive Julia Hamm knows the one critical question. More importantly, the strong performance confirms she also knows the answer.

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

Member Engagement question

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.

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.

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.

Member Engagement CEO?

member engagement CEOMember Engagement CEO? 

In today’s world the notion of “lead, follow or get out of the way” is a non starter. Durable volunteer armies are built on foundations of connectivity, transparency, collaboration and cooperation. The Member Engagement CEO needs those traits to transform their organizations into “we focused” communities where members impact outcomes.

5 Characteristics of a Member Engagement CEO

1. Culture Keeper. As a steadfast leader, the Member Engagement CEO permeates a member engagement culture throughout their Associations and Societies.  Rightly so, Management expert Peter Drucker points out that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” If creating a member engagement community is the CEOs vehicle then culture is its engine.

2. CCCIC. The Communicator, Convener  & Collaborator in Chief, works seamlessly with the board, senior managers, staff and the membership.  He/she is always seeking feedback from members on products and services, obtaining guidance through focus groups and member surveys. Working with and coaching staff to devise solutions, the CCCIC keeps their eye on the ball. Policies, programs and activities continually reflect the connection to member business and personal objectives.

3. 20-20 foresight. The member engagement chief executive must have capacity to see around the corners. In a world where business cycles change at the drop of a hat, next year arrives faster than ever. Anticipating member business challenges keeps the Member Engagement CEO ahead of the game.

4. Inspirational.  Not so much by what is said but how it is said inspires and motivates stakeholders. Setting a tone of mutual respect and vulnerability, these leaders instill trust, and achieve strong team performance.  Member engagement CEO’s set high expectations and are found in the trenches always supporting their team.

5. Innovator. Challenging themselves and their team to constantly identify what’s next. Developing cutting edge solutions that help their Society or Associations maintain their uniqueness in the marketplace is in their DNA.

5 Real Time CEO Successes   

Demonstrating the potency of a “Culture Keeper,” an Association CEO unleashed an era of member engagement and remarkable revenue and member growth. Setting the culture at the outset positioned this CEO to far surpass expectations. For sure, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

As the “CCCIC,” a different Association CEO made the strategic plan update and the member survey a platform to further unite the community. The Association, despite a challenging market recapitalized its reserves, improved member retention and is seeking global growth opportunities.

In another example a CEO helped an Association with “20-20 foresight.”  A training or certification program that was previously dismissed is now being vetted for implementation. Executives coming into one professional field lacked background and skills and the Association is close to supporting the member’s business needs.

This CEO helped define what it means to be “Inspirational.” After turning around the financial fortunes of an Association, their leader insists on helping generate revenue. Staff at the Association agree their CEO is demanding, but noted that their Chief Executive is determined, hard working and fair. Needless to say, impressive financial results continue.

Always looking for “What’s Next” keeps this Association way ahead of the competitiveness curve.  This “Innovator” CEO uses a passion for the Association’s mission to develop new services every year of the last ten. Revenues grew as did member satisfaction and retention.

Member Engagement CEO? 

What rests at the center of the Member Engagement CEOs success? The drive and the extraordinary skills to build a durable volunteer army and a financially successful community.

In a tumultuous era for Associations and Societies, successful leaders embrace the mantra of the Member Engagement CEO. If proof is in the pudding, then each CEO example cited helped  bake the cake.

member engagement CEO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Social Media Connects an Association’s Global Community

Social Media Connects an Association’s Global Community. Many Associations embrace Social Media in order to reach and effectively engage members. Those CEO’s incorporating social media with their overall engagement and incorporating business objectives achieve greater ROI. Through the Strategic Planning Process, the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) www.niri.org, identified Social Media as an integral part of their strategy to build and reinforce its growing community of global Investor Relations Executives.

Engage Members at Their Desks

Steve Lane, President , Vertical Leap Consulting www.verticalleapconsulting.com notes “Real member engagement is all about “we”; bringing members together and facilitating the dialogue that leads to new solutions to their shared “pain point” issues”In a hyper paced world, a cyber community focus makes it easier to engage members to participate, share information and derive value from their member investment. Jeffrey D. Morgan, President and CEO reports that Social Media is a key element of his organization’s member engagement strategy.

Community Connection

As NIRI’s global membership expands, the Association looks to connect its members with one another and keep the conversation going. Morgan notes that a larger share of share of its membership growth is outside the United States making Social Media an important member resource.

Increasing Investment Expand Capacity and Capability

At a time when Association  memberships are more closely evaluated, member engagement and participation are increasingly important for Associations like NIRI. Vertical Leap Consulting’s Lane adds  “The principles of engagement are simple yet powerful:

  • As the perceived ability to impact outcomes increases,
  • Behaviors change from being a recipient of information to increasingly higher levels of contribution, and
  • Connectedness to the Association increases”

For NIRI and CEO Morgan Social Media is driving member engagement and so much so the Association is increasing its investment.

As NIRI’s member engagement accelerates so has the Association’s retention and new member growth.

How does Social Media Connect your Association’s community? 

Much more on Association Revenue Growth at  www.potomaccore.com/blog