The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom along with modest and subdued global economic growth will continue to affect corporate decisions on external costs not related to top line growth and operating performance. Associations in a number of instances are increasingly more relevant, and have strategic objectives closely aligned with the industries they serve. These organizations also have the characteristics that define Post Brexit Associations. However, in a rapidly evolving global market, how aligned is your association in order to help your members and their industries meet new challenges?
5 Characteristics of Post Brexit Associations
Post Brexit associations at their core are viewed as strategic partners to the industry and so much so that the board and the membership view the association as “the industry or the profession.” These reorganizations also have:
- Highly engaged and strategic boards
- Value proposition that amplifies industry business outcomes
- Collaborative and Quantifiable Industry Outcome Advocacy
- Thought Leadership Positions the Industry with Key Influencers
- Industry Convener & Collaborator
Highly Engaged and Strategic Boards
The great recession, consolidation, global uncertainty, increasing regulatory threats, and uneven economic growth are especially challenging to industries who market and sell directly to their consumers. One example is the bakery products industry who continually faces its share of tightening operating margins and evolving consumer attitudes regarding the food it consumes.
Incorporated over one hundred years ago, the bakery industry formed the American Bakers Association to advocate on the industries behalf. Today the association is led by Robb MacKie, President & CEO, and from his perspective a foundational and critical element of ABA’s impact on the Baking Industries’ outcome is all about maximum board engagement.
Value Proposition That Amplifies Industry Business Outcomes
In the PWC 19th Annual Global CEO Survey, 90% of CEO Survey Participants note that “customers have the biggest impact on strategy.” Associations who seek to reflect their customer/member outcomes can develop strategically focused value propositions that reflect the outcomes that their industries are working to achieve. For Robb MacKie and his team, the association’s value proposition is an opportunity to effectively engage the industry while helping the organization keep its relevance.
Collaborative and Quantifiable Industry Outcome Advocacy
The real power of associations comes from facilitating the creation of new solutions to address evolving industry business objectives and outcomes. Post Brexit Associations employ “we” focused approaches to engage both their boards and the membership to identify and quantify the outcomes the industry must achieve in order to be successful. It’s about succeeding together in order to achieve the important Return on Member Engagement. ABA utilizes a similar approach to bring the industry together, develop new solutions, and then collaborate to achieve industry outcomes through its Advocacy Initiatives.
Thought Leadership Positions the Industry with Key Influencers
Helping the industry feel more connected to the association is an essential part of its long term positioning and success for Post Brexit Associations. For example, both before and following the great recession, ABA has engaged in long term strategy to accelerate its alignment and positioning with the Baking Industry. Working with its industry partners. ABA launched the Grain Foods Foundation to provide research and thought leadership to key influencers in both the Scientific and Medical Communities. Making this research and scientific evidence available has helped the industry define the ongoing role it plays in providing healthy and safe products to consumers.
Industry Convener & Collaborator
In an era of growing industry demands and fewer resources, the need for industry collaboration is accelerating. Part of the new value premise for Post Brexit Associations is in creating a one stop shopping model whereby the association is the “integrator, aggregator, curator, and facilitator”. Being the industry convener and collaborator means that an association connects the industry with each other and with research, new market solutions, and innovations. The Industry gathers every three years at the International Baking Industry Exposition. The Show is a collaborative effort of the American Bakers Association, The Retail Bakers of America, and the Bakery Equipment Manufacturers and Allieds. This joint effort provides a program driven by business networking, education, and a preview of innovation and new technologies to drive industry success.
Post Brexit Associations
Joining the ranks of Post Brexit Associations is becoming more necessary. Each day market forces, innovative disruption, and global uncertainty will force associations to show quantifiable ROI or face loss of relevance.
The aftermath of the Brexit vote is yet to be seen, however your association can accelerate its alignment with the industry you serve through an updated strategic plan. Engaging in industry focused conversations, conducting an industry impact survey (instead of the traditional satisfaction survey), and building a transparent 3 year go to market roadmap can position your association as the strategic partner that your industry seeks.
The ABA’s ongoing and evolving strategic alignment with the industry it serves is having an impact. Despite industry challenges, the association maintains its dues funding levels and the International Baking Industry Exposition has helped the association double its net assets.