managing teams through crisis

Is Your Association Inside Out?

Recently reported economic expansion reflects only one part of an evolving and complex business environment. Cyber threats, disruptive technologies, innovations and social media, an aging workforce, and talent gaps weigh heavily on corporate bottom lines. According to a McKinsey December 2014 Global Survey, “geopolitical concerns remain paramount as a risk to growth for executives whose optimism for the global economy in early 2014 has faded over the course of the year.”

“Outside In” Association Boards?

association boards

“Outside In” Association Boards?

The overall impact of very highly strategic boards with a high understanding who strategize about the needs of the average member is reflected in Association business model performances. New data from a Strategic Member Engagement Survey shows organizations who are “Outside In” are far more likely to deliver strong performance in retention, annual revenue, primary meeting registrations and timely membership renewals. This and other survey data was shared through the collaboration of icimo, Vertical Leap Consulting, and Potomac Core – Association Consulting.

Why “Outside In” Boards Matter

As Associations and Professional Societies work to remain relevant, a strategic board can provide important linkages to member “up at night” issues and the business and professional outcomes that members want to achieve.

Alignment With Member Outcomes

outside inIn an important example, keeping an Association reflective of member business outcomes (“outside-in) is a deliberate focus for Julia Hamm, President & CEO of the Solar Electric Power Association www.solarelectricpower.org.  By design, the organization’s board reflects all sectors of its core membership ranging from large regulated investor owned electric companies to small municipally owned electric utilities.

Hamm and her senior team consistently utilize their strategically focused board to understand their “up at night” issues. They utilize direct market feedback  to develop products and services which help effectively address  and engage members in solutions to their “up at night” issues. “What’s driving us is what they need, not what we need” emphasizes Julia Hamm. This member outcome focused approach helps the organization achieve consistent 94-95% core member retention.

“Outside In” Association Boards?

Strategic boards who provide high level perspectives on member and professional outcomes help motivate and drive Strategic Member Engagement. They also help an Association remain highly relevant on a consistent basis.

 

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

 

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

 

3 Goals Transform an Association Business Model

 association business model3 Goals Transform an Association Business Model. It’s never easy to embrace the hardships of a historic recession or its aftermath.  However Tom Dobbins, President at Arlington, Virginia based American Composite Manufactures Association (http://www.acmanet.org/)  (ACMA) seized a key moment in time. Dobbins and his team succeeded in closely aligning their organization with its small and large composite manufacturers, suppliers and distributors. Three year overall 9% revenue growth and 10% annual conference growth after suffering through the downturn signals the Association is on track.

ACMA Embraces Core Focus

Reinforcing a widely accepted approach among growth minded CEO’s, ACMA reformulated its Mission Statement reinforcing its commitment to their manufacturer and supplier member base. Moving forward the Association would provide direct ROI for dues dollars invested:

  •  Relevant education and information.
  • Expertise and representation in legislative and regulatory affairs.
  • Market growth and development.

3 Goals Transform an Association Business Model

 Associations like ACMA narrow their focus reflecting clear cut deliverables for dues payers. The  Board of Directors renewed its commitment to support their members in all 50 states:

  1.  Provide resources for managing and growing businesses that are utilized    by a significant number of the membership.
  2.  Provide resources that a significant number of the membership find useful in educating and training their employees.
  3.  Develop multiple communication channels to disseminate information to the greatest number of member companies and other stakeholders.

Upping Their Game

Increasing their Advocacy efforts through a Federal Agency Forum, launching a new online learning platform and in October 2014, the launch of CAMX produced by ACMA and SAMPE. This event will provide educational programs and networking opportunities for sharing product innovations and establishing key industry contacts.

3 Goals Transform an Association Business Model

Dashboards reflecting data and metrics keep Tom Dobbins and his team focused and executing the 3 key goals that helped realign ACMA and transform its business model (http://bit.ly/13zCQkw).

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

association business model

You Want to Grow Association Membership?

grow association membershipYou Want to Grow Association Membership? The pressure to increase membership is not going away and neither are the competitive threats. Although some Associations are growing membership and revenue, a high number are not. Many ask, “what are some of the best practices driving membership and revenue growth at other Associations?”

Strategy Drives Everything

The most successful membership growth efforts are tied directly to Association strategies and or strategic plans. This means board members and senior managers are committed and willing participants. Saying we need to grow membership is not powerful enough. What is? Have a well thought through strategy showing and how and why membership growth advances the mission of the Association.

3 Must Do’s that Drive Membership Growth

Despite challenging market conditions, Associations are growing and they consistently execute very well in each of the 3 Must Do’s:

1. Exceed your current membership’s expectations – Membership growth gets easier when the current membership boasts about value, service and high return on investment

2. Consistently Connect to Pain Points – Pain points reflect prospective company business and or professional needs. Direct your conversation, products and services to how membership immediately addresses and satisfies pain point needs

3. Recruit Top Flight Membership Executives – The best way to drive membership growth? Bring in A level Membership Executives who collaborate and integrate internally. These top performers effectively engage C Level executives. Membership Executives make an Association’s first impression on a prospect. Choose well and it will pay consistent dividends.

You Want to Grow Association Membership?

These strategies have driven remarkable results at several Associations. What is even more interesting is how some developed and applied each of the 3 Must Do’s differently. Although Growth results through varied from Association to Association their results were still impressive. Ranging from 233% revenue growth to 600% membership growth, each Association consistently exceeded member expectations, reflected and delivered value connected to pain points and recruit top flight membership executives.

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

 

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.

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

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.