Compelling Member Engagement

Compelling Member Engagement

Polarization in Washington, DC, and market disruption are opening doors for Associations to create more compelling member engagement experiences for their members. Associations can be more proactive and less reactive by providing more opportunities for their members to share knowledge and build new solutions that drive business and professional outcomes.

Compelling Member Engagement Using “Pull” and “Push” 

The customary approach for associations is to seek out knowledge experts and then “push” that person’s knowledge out to the masses via educational programs, newsletters, and journals. Today’s associations who view their role as the integrator, aggregator, curator and enabler are creating more compelling member engagement experiences. This is accomplished by “pulling” members together and facilitating the sharing of knowledge so that innovative solutions are created to address shared challenges and opportunities. The “push” and “pull” doctrine means that your association:

  • Captures the insights of many members and stakeholders.
  • Provides the tools that enable members to tap into the collective knowledge of the critical insights as soon as they need them.

Surface Critical Challenges That Must Be Addressed

Your organizations can utilize focus groups and survey research to pinpoint industry and professional challenges that must be addressed. This means utilizing survey instruments that identify member “up at night” issues and then engaging your board and key volunteer leaders to understand the full impact of what is learned and how it can be applied successfully to impact professions and drive business outcomes. Having research based conclusions is an essential part of creating a more compelling member engagement.

Identify Who Most Wants to Contribute and Collaborate  

Being able to pinpoint those members who want to most contribute and collaborate will help your association build the more compelling member engagement experiences. In the strategic member engagement survey released in 2014, those associations and professional societies who report that they can identify member segments that want to contribute and collaborate more often:

  • Have a board that understands and strategizes about core member needs to a “very high” degree.
  • Report an upward trend in 3-year annual revenue.

Applying the Pull and Push Doctrine at Your Association

Since association boards and CEO’s want their organization to be more pro-active and less reactive, the push and pull doctrine is increasingly important. What’s more important is how your association transforms from a reactive to a proactive posture in relatively short period of time. Utilizing this box, you can reposition products or services to become more timely and impactful to member’s professional challenges and business growth outcomes. 

Compelling Member Engagement

Case Study – Creating More Compelling Member Engagement

compelling member engagementThe American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy based in Alexandria, Virginia has 25,000 members that fall into three core groups: Academics, Agency, and Private Practice. The Profession utilizes the organization as its platform to advance the Profession and practice of marriage and family therapy. According to Tracy Todd, Chief Executive Officer of AAMFT, the starting point for critical therapy topics (“push”) for their members include that the Association and its online community:

  • A primary source of information for consumers.
  • Therapists utilize the site to market their practice.
  • Support the reputation of marriage and family therapists through AAMFT.

In today’s dynamic environment topical, needs evolved much more quickly and the online community fell out of date, driving member resentment and caused the organization to lose revenue.

AAMFT – “Pull” and “Push” to Energize Member Engagement

“Pull” 

Crowdsourced topics and sought input on topics from Members and:

  • Sought editors and contributors, and facilitated knowledge sharing conversations per subject matter area

“Push”

Used subject matter experts in groups to develop thought leadership pushed out to members on-demand including:

  • Fact sheets/brochures and current information

Outcomes

Created more compelling member engagement experiences:

  • Accelerated credibility of the Profession among members and consumers
  • Member feedback included “Nice to see AAMFT using member expertise” and “Thank you for helping AAMFT to open itself up for input.”

Identifying and Responding to Industry Disruptors

Compelling Member EngagementThe “push” and “pull” doctrine can also be utilized as a strategy to help identify and respond to industry disruptors. Associations can utilize industry market research to surface new trends to surface potential disruptors. For example, NPES, through its PRIMR product is effectively engaging the industry’s value chain to uncover challenges and potential opportunities by:

  • Expanding involvement of Printers and Advertising Agencies
  • Involving Brand Owners in the research program
  • Including research with case studies on the effectiveness of print
  • Create and formatting research for “action”

Compelling Member Engagement

While advocacy, education, and information are staple association offerings, it’s not enough to drive more compelling member engagement experiences in today’s complex environment. Research shows that organizations who utilize the doctrine of “pull” and “push” can accelerate member engagement and improve their operating performance. The national associations in the Strategic Member Engagement Survey most often reported an upward 3-year trend in: Member Retention, Annual Operating Revenue Registrations to the Primary Annual Meeting, Annual Revenue from Fee-for-Service Offerings, and Timely Membership Renewals.

compelling member engagement

 

 

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Just Another Association

just another association

Strive to Be More Than Just Another Association 

Associations who seek to grow or expand revenues need to be more than just another association. In today’s uncertain global business environment, associations must be perceived as extensions of company and industry business strategies and not be just another association. Those who are aligned with business challenges and outcomes are relevant because they relate to what really matters. Having this connectivity is the critical ingredient to making your association durable and more able to grow revenue.

Inside Out Means Your Just Another Association

Despite more robust economic growth forecasts, companies still face regulatory hurdles, changing consumer sentiments, and disruptive market forces. The “internet of everything” is lowering the barrier of entry for all products and services and reshaping how consumers make their purchasing decisions. Traditional food retailers are addressing loss in foot traffic as health focused consumers seek out online “farm to fork” retailers. The insurance industry sees its consumers seeking out lower cost options for life, property, and casualty insurance coverage.

Being just another association means that members perceive your organization as focused on what it needs instead of helping the members and their companies, professions or industries achieve their outcomes. Since your members have more options than ever to consume new solutions, it’s a matter of time before they vote with their feet and go somewhere else. If your association wants to grow revenues then it must shift its focus to an industry or profession perspective. Organizations who transform and become strategic allies are better positioned to address member challenges and therefore be more likely to grow revenue.

Strategic Growth and Development

Hiring marketing or sales firms at the onset isn’t the right approach. After all, selling louder and selling more is a risky short term approach. While you may see revenue growth in the short term, the next economic downturn could deliver a volcano sized wallop to your operating performance.

Just another associationIf an organization wishes to grow then its strategies, products, and services must be formulated around industry or profession challenges and outcomes. This is an outside in approach that will better position your association. Strategic growth and development is a longer term approach that connects your organization with the things that your members care about.

3 Steps Driving Strategic Growth and Development

Building new strategies is all about what we do together. Engaging your board and letting them know the process is about their industry challenges and outcomes is the right first step. Today’s board members are different. They are busier and more likely to give precious time to those efforts that help drive industry or profession success. Utilizing your senior staff team and your board your association is ready to begin its strategic growth and development journey.

  1. Identify Actionable Needs

Avoid the pitfalls of satisfaction surveys. Organizations utilizing satisfaction surveys are more likely perceived by their members as just another association. Members don’t care about your association’s “outputs”. They only care about “outcomes” that address their business/ professional challenges and opportunities. Everything else is just noise. Going back to your board with high satisfaction scores while they face increasingly more challenges will send them to the exits. Develop an externally focused industry or profession survey helps to understand the challenges they face and the solutions they require.

Case Study:

Just Another AssociationIn December 2016, the Society for Vascular Ultrasound, in Lanham, Maryland utilized a Member Impact Survey to help its board and staff team identify the profession’s up at night challenges and opportunities. While survey participation is usually in the 2% to 4% range, 15% of the Society’s members participated. The results provided actionable data on the critical concerns that matter most to those involved in the Vascular Technology Profession. SVU Executive Director James Wilkinson notes “this data-driven process helped us determine how to move the needle for our professionals. It also helped us arrive at a strategic roadmap that will increase the relevance of our niche field and allow our professionals to take their careers to the next level. “

  1. Develop Unique Products: Address Industry & Profession Challenges with Real Solutions

Members will contribute time, knowledge and ideas when they perceive an opportunity to impact the outcomes they seek. Making this happens means that you must change the conversation from association “outputs” to business or profession “outcomes”.

Focusing on member outcomes will drive development of the best outputs, not the other way around.

Case Study:

Just Another AssociationAs part of its strategic plan work Reston, Virginia based NPES affirmed the need to deliver actionable Industry Research for Global Print Manufacturers, Printers, and the Brand Owners. The Industry needs research that provides actionable data for immediate implementation for the Industry’s value chain. In formulating this strategy, the board and the members also expressed interest in the following activities that would drive their global business outcomes:

  • Expand involvement of Printers and Advertising Agencies
  • Engage Brand Owners in research program
  • Include research with case studies on the effectiveness of print
  • Create and format research for “action”
  • Develop new partners with providers of groundbreaking Industry Research and Market Data
  • Create high level of engagement End-Users, Advertising Agencies
    and OEM’s to knowledge share

“We are aligning ourselves with industry and the entire value chain. As a result, we are well situated now to have a major impact on industry outcomes and results. We now can become the leader which our members and the industry need” says Thayer Long, NPES President.

  1. Apply the Doctrine of the Differentiated Experience

The real power of associations is about facilitating the creation of new solutions to address evolving member challenges and objectives. Created a differentiated experience means engaging your members in ways that facilitate knowledge-sharing and collaboration with other members. This means your members are more connected. If they are you can track how your member’s knowledge contributions to collaboration with the industry or the profession and helps them feel more connected to your association.

Case Study:

Just Another AssociationThe Alexandria, Virginia based American Staffing Association continually accelerates its relevance and the unique experiences for its member professionals. As reported in the November – December 2016 edition of Staffing Success, ASA is creating opportunities for their members to learn about technology solutions and participate in knowledge sharing. The Association uncovered the opportunity through an up-at-night issue survey where members and managers expressed interest in this this type of engagement. The organization is establishing task forces to keep the industry connected to new technology trends to support its ongoing efforts to formulate new levels of thought leadership and industry peer to peer knowledge exchange. In doing so, ASA is increasing its member’s level of connectedness with the organization.

Just Another Association

Increasing top line revenue is not a function of selling more or selling louder it’s all about how your association is at the heart of the of the industry or profession that you serve.  Identifying actionable needs, developing unique products: Addressing Industry & Profession Challenges with Real Solutions, & applying the Doctrine of the Differentiated Experience helps you to create a roadmap that leads to Strategic Growth & Development. How will you and your team know that you are ready to drive revenue growth? Your board and your members will view your association as an extension of their business strategies. This also means that you are not just another association.

just another association

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

Stop Selling Stuff

stop selling stuff

At the start of your board meetings do board members ask themselves “I hope they try selling stuff today?” Of course not. If anything, they want your organization to stop selling stuff. In today’s disruptive environment they are preoccupied with their business challenges and global uncertainty. Hearing endless staff reports and selling stuff is not where they are at anymore.  Today’s board members want strategic meetings focused on their external challenges and they want their Associations to help them address these challenges.

Please Stop Selling Stuff

When your Trade Association was launched, your founders were focused on how an organization could address business challenges and achieve specific outcomes.  They believed a combined effort would accomplish more as an industry or a profession that they could on their own. It’s a safe bet that your founders never imagined that they should hire staff to “sell us stuff” at board meetings. 

Board Members Tuning Out

stop selling stuffEveryone listens to their favorite radio stationWIIFM,” What’s in It for Me. If you observe several board members staring at their mobile devices or texting during your meetings, they’ve already switched channels. Keeping them tuned in to your channel means you must address what they hope to hear.

Highly Engaged and Strategic Boards

How do we make your Association remain number one on their listening dial? First, elevate your board meetings to strategic conversations about board member business challenges. Secondly, minimize the staff “report out” practice as much as possible.  Instead, discuss how these business challenges could be addressed through your association. This makes your meeting relevant and helps to justify a board member’s time away from their business.

What do our board members really tune in for at Board Meetings?

  • Discussions addressing critical business challenges and opportunities and how their Association could help address these challenges.
  • How the Association is continually building more allies to help leverage the industry’s position to reduce regulatory compliance costs.
  • The organization is investing its revenues to produce market research or technologies that provides meaningful insights to reduce costs or grow top line revenue.

These approaches accelerate board engagement and make your board deliberations more strategic. Boards who are highly engaged and strategic in focus outperform those organizations who are not.

Understanding Board and Industry Perceptions

Every board member has different expectations, business challenges, and business opportunities. Knowing and understanding these issues help to align your board meetings with the strategic outcomes that your board members care most about. You can surface these perceptions through your strategic business planning process through:

  • Industry or Profession Focused Board interviews.
  • An industry wide business impact survey (instead of an association focused product and service satisfaction survey).

This detailed and actionable research helps you identify and prioritize the issues that move the needle for your board and the membership.  In doing so, your organization can reposition itself as a solution partner and in doing so become more relevant.

“WISP” A Station Your Board Wants to Hear

Increasingly Trade Associations are positioning their organizations to that of a Worldwide Industry Solution Partner (WISP). For example, NPES, the Aluminum Association, the American Staffing Association, the Society for Vascular Ultrasound, and the Jewelers of America have transformed themselves into WISP’s. Each of these organizations are finding new and innovative ways to serve their members, promote their industry, or help to accelerate the relevance of an important field inside the medical profession.

Worldwide Industry Solution Partners

WISP’s align with and drive business outcomes for industries. For GCCA, the Global Cold Chain Alliance, it’s about helping the industry manage and rein in their regulatory costs:

  • In 2009, the industry’s fines and inspections increased by more than 300%.
  • GCCA signed the first OSHA Alliance with the new administration in mid-2010.
  • The Association collaborated with OSHA on safety initiatives, and inspector training.
stop selling stuff

 

stop selling stuffGCCA’s actions on behalf of the Cold Chain helped reduce compliance costs considerably. By understanding member expectations, member business challenges and top line growth opportunities, the association is much more relevant. What’s more, associations like GCCA are increasingly listener favorites. Its strategic plan is a chart topper, it reflects the industry’s challenges while it helps drive business growth through the Association. GCCA is not selling stuff, it is driving industry business outcomes.

Stop Selling Stuff

stop selling stuffAlthough there are visible signs of economic growth, global terrorism threats and weak consumption are holding back more robust growth. If we want board members to stay tuned to our channel we must play what they want to hear or they will tune us out. So if your board members are sarcastically saying “I hope they try selling stuff today?” It’s out of frustration and only a matter of time before they vote with their feet and their checkbook and tune in to an entirely different channel. What they really mean is stop selling stuff and instead help their industry address its challenges and drive its business outcomes.

stop selling stuff

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

3 Association Radical Transformation Strategies

Association Radical Transformation Strategies

Are persistent growth challenges and global uncertainty opening different pathways for Trade Associations? In several instances, several Association CEO’s are utilizing radical transformation strategies to increase their relevance to the members and the industries they serve. Do Association’s need Radical Transformation Strategies to remain relevant enough to keep their members engaged over the longer term?

Association Radical Transformation Strategies

In 1982, as the global competition and market disruption accelerated, Tom Peters introduced a new way of thinking in his book “In Search of Excellence.” Instead of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” he said “If it ain’t broke, you just haven’t looked hard enough.” As market conditions drive tighter margins and uncertainty limits opportunities for industry growth, Tom Peters bias for action is a clarion call for Associations. The following 3 Association Radical Transformation Strategies will help to radically transform your Association and better position your organization to more impactfully engage your members:

  1. Dispense with traditional Association Strategies, Connect the Value Chain

Engage the entire value chain (suppliers, original equipment manufacturers, producers, customers, and customer’s customer) through qualitative and quantitative research. Identify similarities among business challenges and growth opportunities. In doing so, your organization is positioning itself as the place to address solutions and drive growth from one end of the marketplace to the other.

  1. Forget Competitive Boundaries, Lead and Convene the Value Chain

Forget competitive association boundaries. Convene the industry or profession value chain through your association, collaborate with other associations to address industry business challenges and identify new pathways to top line growth. For example, leverage advocacy resources of the entire value chain to reduce compliance costs. Your bias for action is no longer about your products or services, it’s about industry business outcomes. Driving these outcomes throughout the entire value chain provides the results they must have to succeed. If they succeed, then they remember who helped drive their success and reward you with a renewal or a new membership.

  1. Association Promotion becomes secondary, Promote and Grow the Industry or Profession throughout the Value Chain

In a hyper competitive world, relevance is the key that can unlock the business and professional outcomes that your members need. This is the bias for action that matters, promote the industry through actionable research. Utilize it to demonstrate the industry’s impact to advocate with elected officials, regulators, and industry customers. Also, develop actionable research to identify opportunities to increase efficiency or unlock growth opportunities throughout the value chain. Having the value chain at the table creates allies to drive business outcomes.  Anything less and your Association’s membership is at risk.

Transformation and Action

Trade Associations who demonstrate a bias for action and transformation are increasing. As global market complexities increase, several CEO’s are embracing transformation as the better pathway to keep their Association’s relevant. What’s more, each of these Associations is finding it easier to engage their members because of the relevance to their business challenges and outcomes.

Association Radical Transformation Strategies

Thayer Long, NPES President since May of 2016, sees his organization’s strategic planning process as an ongoing act of invention. Although the plan was approved by the organization’s Board of Directors in December 2016, this is a larger effort to support global growth for the print and imaging industry. An NPES Core Team is convening representatives of the value chain (original equipment manufacturers, printers, and brand owners) to ensure that new products and services provide real time solutions to drive business outcomes. Actionable data and acting on what they know versus what they think is now a part of the NPES DNA. The association wants to remain nimble to take full advantage of any new opportunities help reduce costs or to support top line growth for the industry they serve.

Association Radical Transformation StrategiesCorey Rosenbusch, Global Cold Chain Alliance President & CEO maintains a relentless focus on a strategic plan reflecting the business outcomes of refrigerated food and logistics industry around the world. GCCA developed disruptive advocacy strategies to lower the costs of regulatory compliance for their members. What’s different today? The association leads and convenes an ongoing broader industry effort focusing on cost reduction.

Since adoption of its new strategic plan GCCA has experienced 25% growth in annual revenue.

Association Radical Transformation StrategiesHeidi Brock, President & CEO, the Aluminum Association and her team have transformed the way they serve their members. Tightly aligning advocacy strategies with member business outcomes and continually providing actionable research to share with elected officials and prospective customers of the industry keeps the Association relevant. Moreover Brock, her team, and the Association’s Executive Committee work towards quantifiable outcomes for the Aluminum Industry.

The Aluminum Association is experiencing 11% membership growth, retention improved 3%, and their core revenue is 6% higher than the prior year.

3 Association Radical Transformation Strategies

Should your Association adjust its bias for action? Start by asking these four questions of your Board and your members:

  1. As you think about the Association over the last 3-5 years what has the organization achieved in terms of direct impact on your costs of doing business and your opportunities to grow your topline revenue?
  2. Over the next 3-5 years what are the industry’s most significant challenges, threats and business growth opportunities?
  3. How aligned is the Association with these challenges and opportunities?
  4. Would you like the value chain at the table with us to help build solutions and drive future topline growth?

The answers to these questions will provide the basis you need to launch your 3 Association Radical Transformation Strategies.

Association Radical Transformation Strategies

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

4 Association Disruption Strategies

4 Association Disruption Strategies

The 2017 PWC 20th annual CEO Survey, fourth quarter domestic GDP numbers and the 2017 Conference Board Global forecast of 2.3% economic growth show just how challenging business conditions are for today’s business decision makers. Organizations can help their members convert these challenges into growth opportunities by utilizing 4 Association Disruption Strategies. In doing so you, can position your organization as disruptive growth agents for the Industry or the Profession you serve.

Disrupt Ourselves

Embracing the hyper competitive environment is essential in a time of global uncertainty and disruption for all Association and Professional Society Leaders. “We have to disrupt ourselves every day,” notes Thayer Long, President of Reston, Virginia based NPES.  He points to how his Association is answering the call and positioning itself to be a growth agent for the printing and imaging industry.  In a recently completed Strategic Plan update, he reflects on how NPES with Board and Market guidance is addressing  challenges and competitive threats for the Industry and the Association.

Transforming into agents of change and growth helps keep your organization more relevant. In today’s environment, members demand real time solutions that advance their concerns and achieve results. By adding these 4 Association Disruption Strategies into your planning process, your organization becomes an important part of everyday conversations.

4 Association Disruption Strategies

  1. Obtain Actionable Data – Understanding challenges and opportunities for the Profession or Industry you represent is a must. Utilizing an impact and member engagement focused survey can help you obtain more realistic assessments of how relevant and connected your organization is to the outcomes that members seek to achieve. Taking your members pulse annually through impact and memebr engagement surveys will especially help keep your organization aligned with your members and their customers.

2.  Position the Association as an Outcome Driver Changing the conversation from “here’s what you get for your money” to “here’s the power of engaging with others in your Industry/Profession to create new, innovative solutions” positions your organization as a thought leader and a solution provider.

3. Deliver Products to Drive Impact  Avoiding the “all you can eat buffet” environment that adds more products dilutes value and dampens staff enthusiasm over time. This posture also causes your members to perceive your Association or Professional Society as less relevant. For example, a data based approach that utilizes survey results from members and their customers can validate what your members need to achieve their business outcomes.  Using this approach NPES was able to affirm the need to deliver actionable Industry Research for Global Print Manufacturers, Printers, and the Big Brand Companies.

4. Keep Strategic Plans NimbleAs business cycles shift, your organization must be able to adapt and remain relevant. For instance, it’s not yet clear on what the Post Brexit environment will look like nor is it clear how health care policy will evolve. Collaborating with your board to build and adjust an organization Business Plan instead of the traditional Strategic Plan helps you respond instantaneously to market changes.

Applying these 4 Association Disruption Strategies to develop your new Business Plan can help your Association or Professional Society accelerate its relevance and motivate higher levels of Member and Industry engagement. By doing so, your organization becomes the focal point for the Profession or Industry you represent. For NPES, extensive survey research and strategic deliberations with their board positions the organization as the focal point for the global imaging and printing industry growth.

4 Association Disruption Strategies

4 Association Disruption Strategies

The Merriam Webster definition of disrupt helps to frame the decision point for you as an Association Executive or an Executive Director:

  • “to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way: to interrupt the normal progress or activity of (something)”

In today’s uncertain and anemic growth environment, should Associations and Professional Societies utilize their Business Planning (formerly known as Strategic Planning) process to “disrupt themselves?” Is there any other choice?

4 Association Disruption Strategies

 

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

Advocacy Drives Business Outcomes

advocacy drives business outcomes

For leading Associations, their mantra is clear Advocacy Drives Business Outcomes. These organizations collaborate with their boards to make sure that the Association’s Advocacy Strategies reflect the growth challenges and opportunities that their members care most about. Even though the U.S. economy grew at a brisk 3.5% in the third quarter of 2016 growth forecasts for 2017 remain mixed. What also remains to be seen is just how much disruptive technologies and policies of the new Administration will impact the business landscape in the new year.

What is becoming increasingly more clear is how Associations can accelerate their business impact for their members in 2017. There is already evidence that CEO’s are leveraging organizational resources to engage their members in ambitious policy and regulatory agendas. In doing so these Associations are key allies in helping their members overcome challenges, reduce costs, and in several cases enter new markets.

Policy Priorities Mirror Industry Outcomes

Associations including the Global Cold Chain Alliance, GCCA,  and the American Bakers Association, ABA, utilize their Advocacy Strategies to link member dues investments to the cost reduction and top line growth outcomes that their members seek.  GCCA’s strategic plan incorporates advocacy and business outcomes and ABA emphasizes the impact of its advocacy strategies in an annual video. The Fertilizer Institute’s, TFIAdvocacy Strategy is laser focused on helping its members manage its costs through a slow growth cycle. Each of these organizations demonstrate how advocacy drives business outcomes.

The Board leaders and the Association are collaborators and make sure policy priorities reflect the challenges and opportunities facing the industry per Heidi Biggs Brock, President and CEO, at the Aluminum Association.

Engaging the Board on External Issues

As the global marketplace grows more increasingly complex some Associations have found it difficult to increase board attendance and active participation at their meetings. Organizations who structure their board meetings as more of a “knowledge sharing” and strategic focus for attendees are finding higher levels of interest and engagement.

Measuring Advocacy and Policy Outcomes

Advocacy Drives Business OutcomesShowing how advocacy delivers a return on member engagement is a critical element of what organizations like the Aluminum Association provide for their members. Being able to demonstrate how your organization measures and tracks these outcomes is especially impactful in the minds of the dues paying member.

Expanding Advocacy Impact

Building and recruiting allies inside and outside your industry is a staple for Associations who seek to magnify the impact that they can deliver for their members. Identifying who else needs to be at the table to help your organization build an even greater base of support is essential.

 Advocacy Drives Business Outcomes

In an uncertain world board leaders and members insist upon direct return from their investment of time and financial resources. The Aluminum Association, the American Bakers Association, the Fertilizer Institute, the Global Cold Chain Alliance, and several others have already transformed their organizations. Through tightly focused Advocacy Strategies Today’s Associations are upping their game and helping industries reshape the external business environment for their members. They are doing so by communicating how Advocacy drives business outcomes.

Advocacy Drives Business Outcomes

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

 

3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth

3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth

Global economic challenges from modest growth to market uncertainty continue to drive changes on how Trade Associations deliver value. In several instances, CEOs are collaborating with their boards and management teams to transform their organizations into strategic partners. These Associations are playing activist roles, they are engaging industry value chains and promoting the value that the industry and its products bring to customers and the marketplace. What is clear is that 3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth.

Strategic Member Engagement

Where member engagement once took a back seat to fighting fires and meeting budget expectations, a number of Associations have seized a new moment in time. These organizations are creating ongoing value by bringing the value chain together and engaging executives in ways that help them achieve industry outcomes. An example of how 3 engagement drives growth at Associations is the Arlington, Virginia based Aluminum Association, led by Heidi Biggs Brock, President and CEO.

  • Actionable Data

In addition to satisfaction survey data, the Aluminum Association utilizes ongoing qualitative and quantitative industry research to ascertain the primary internal and external operating and growth challenges facing the industry. The data provides context for annual conversations between Brock and the Executive Committee of the Board. These conversations lead to strategies developed by The Aluminum Association to address and drive industry challenges and outcomes thorough their organization. The strategies have Key Performance Indicators and they are reported through a Scorecard in the Aluminum Association’s Annual Report.

  •  Market Focus

The innovative association is more of an idea incubator, a place where new solutions are developed to advance & grow the industry. Rather than focus on internal issues, the organization is positioned with the industry as a community where companies along the value chain as well as  their customers gather to address critical issues, learn from each other, and grow the industry. This is another example of how 3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth.  Associations such as the Global Cold Chain Alliance, The Club Managers Association, and the Smart Electric Power Alliance all utilize similar approaches and they are growing.

Heidi Brock and her team utilize a clear market focus as their clarion call to provide industry standards data, knowledge sharing forums, and industry activities that demonstrate the value and uniqueness of aluminum.

  • Core Relevance

Instead of focusing on member satisfaction and product sales from an “all you can eat buffet”, innovative Associations understand the value of bringing everyone to the table to drive the industry’s success. This focus drives unique market positioning for the Association and reinforces the value and relevance of the Association to the entire value chain of the industry

The Aluminum Association, for example, works with industry customers to understand their challenges and provides opportunities for these issues to be addressed by the Association. Through this approach the organization establishes itself as a “leader & convener” for the industry.

Core relevance is a key driver and an important element of how 3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth.

3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth

Shortly, the U.S. will elect: a new President, one third of the Senate, and the entire House of Representatives. Already members of the Federal Reserve Board are urging increases in interest rates. In an era of disruption, innovation, and global uncertainty, Actionable Data, Market Focus, and Core Relevance are game changers for Associations. These 3 Engagement Strategies Drive Growth. The Aluminum Association is utilizing these 3 Engagement Strategies to align their organization with the industry business outcomes that their members and their member’s customers care most about.

In uncertain times, increasing your Association’s connection with Industry Business Outcomes accelerates member engagement. It can also positively impact your organization’s business model.  The Aluminum Association is experiencing 11% membership growth, retention improved 3%, and their core revenue is 6% higher than the prior year.

Engagement Strategies Drive Growth

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

3 Association Growth Strategies

3 Association Growth StrategiesSluggish global growth and U.S. growth, the race for talent, and disruptive innovation create opportunities for Associations and Professional Societies to become more essential. It’s all about alignment with industry and professional outcomes that your members care most about. Those organizations who utilize these 3 Association Growth Strategies can help impact member outcomes and as a result better position their members and their organizations for long term success.

3 Association Growth Strategies

1. Secure Actionable Research

Securing forward looking data is essential. Utilizing “Impact” Surveys instead of member satisfaction surveys will help your organization determine the desired future outcomes that members seek to address their “up at night” issues. These issues must also be examined segment by segment.

The Global Cold Chain Alliance, GCCA, utilized both qualitative and quantitative research in order to align itself with its stakeholders. Through this process the organization aligned its internal team and they have transformed themselves into strategic partners for the Global Refrigerated Warehouse Industry. In doing so, GCCA is helping its members drive future outcomes.

3 Association Growth StrategiesAccording to Corey Rosenbusch, President and CEO, GCCA, the organization is taking its partnership a step further. The organization conducts qualitative research with their member’s customers to help align GCCA and their industry with the business outcomes their customers seek. Here again the organization impacts member outcomes.

Association revenues have grown by 25% in the last year and a half.

2. Demonstrate Strategic Alignment

Strategic alignment with your member’s industry and its professional outcomes is key to your organization’s long term durability and growth. Without a recognized level of strategic alignment members will not perceive the important connection between your organization and their business outcomes.

3 Association Growth StrategiesAt the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association, Brent McClendon, President and CEO, continually seeks ways in which he can help accelerate member engagement. He does this by making sure that NWPCA listens closely to its members and then aligns its resources with the appropriate company and industry outcomes. One example of aligning its resources is through its software platform. Their proprietary software, “Pallet Design System” is both a product specification and engineering design tool as well as a professional marketing tool, and educational tool to serve the wood pallet industry. This platform accelerates member engagement and it’s a concrete example of how a product can drive future outcomes.

NWPCA has experienced 60% revenue growth over the last three years.

3. Design the Industry’s Future

Serving as a leader and convener for your industry creates the strongest possible link between your organization and the member’s your serve.  The link is reinforced when you provide a safe space for your members to collaborate and design their future together.

3 Association Growth StrategiesThe Smart Electric Power Alliance, SEPA, brings companies together in all aspects of power generation to design and build the industry of the future. Julia Hamm, President and CEO, and the SEPA team link the industry’s all stakeholders to develop, share, and build future focused solutions for their industry. The organization facilitates important conversations, doesn’t take sides, and serves as an industry convener. SEPA is all about helping members determine how to best drive future outcomes.

For example, SEPA created a 51st State Initiative that creates ongoing opportunities for experts and industry leaders to share, test, and provide feedback on direction and innovation to support an evolving utility sector. Through the 51st State initiative, all stakeholders have can participate in designing “Sustainable market structures from the ground-up, rather than attempting to make wholesale or partial changes to something that has been in place for decades.”

The Smart Electric Power Alliance has seen annual revenues grow 23% (2015 to 2016) and also in 2016 experienced a 62% increase in total staff (to 35 employees from 22).

3 Association Growth Strategies

In a September 2016 interview in Fortune Magazine, GM’s CEO Mary Barra was asked “What would you tell your younger self to do differently?” She replied “Focus more on speed. Time is not our friend.” These 3 Association Growth Strategies will give your organization greater speed and help your organization impact industry and professional outcomes that your members care most about.

3 Association Growth Strategies

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

 

Breakthrough Associations

breakthrough-associations

The flow of economic forecasts and performance, global crisis, disruptive innovation, and the real time updates on the U.S. elections are mind numbing. The constant stream of information reminds association executives just how complex the world has become for your members. How can your organization utilize its strategic planning process to help your members in new and different ways that increase your association’s relevance? The 5 step Breakthrough Associations process starts by expanding your association’s traditional boundaries and uniting the industry’s “value chain” within the ranks of your association.

I. Go Beyond Traditional Boundaries

What if your association was the uniting force, the link that brought the key players to work together?  With technology capabilities you can link buyers, sellers, and suppliers throughout the world, so why not capture the entire industry? Breakthrough associations provides a seat at the table for the entire “value chain” of an industry.

Think of your association in a different way, having one stop shopping capability where your members network, build alliances, and develop creative solutions and identify growth opportunities for the industry. The association becomes the leader, convener, and facilitator, and it helps member executives make effective use of limited time. Its boundaries go beyond traditional membership definitions, and links the industry “value chain” to become the global strategic partner.

II. Take the Temperature of the Entire Value Chain 

The 2014 the Strategic Member Engagement Survey noted that organizations with upward trending 3 year operating results were far more likely to better understand memberup at night issues and to engage members in acting upon those needs. Expanding the scope of the research to include the entire “value chain” could provide even more compelling data.

Breakthrough associations who conduct qualitative and quantitative research on the entire “value chain” deliver powerful data because it:

  • Surfaces external challenges and business growth opportunities among a group of companies who are interconnected and need each other to successfully bring products to the marketplace.
  • Segments stakeholders to highlight important differences, as well as similarities, and opportunities for all stakeholders throughout the “value chain.”

III. Utilize Industry Strategic Planning Instead of Association Strategic Planning

When it comes to breakthrough associations, Board leaders view the association’s strategic planning retreat as an essential activity. They see the Association’s Strategic Planning as an extension of their own company’s long term planning efforts. Throughout the meeting, the focus of the discussion is the future of the industry and not the future of the association. Most of the board’s deliberation and brainstorming centers around the actionable data. Similar to internal company meetings, association board members prioritize the most impactful strategies. These strategic priorities are vetted by Association CEOs and their staff team. Final determinations on which activities to move forward are made based on the industry impact. Cost and revenue considerations also play important roles in the assessment process.

Throughout the process Board Members assess the viability of potential new strategies and insure these approaches align with the desired industry growth outcomes. The updated Vision and Mission statements forgo the utilization of the traditional vision, and mission statements highlighting the association and instead define how the new plan will position and strengthen the industry and the value chain.

IV. Build a “Value Chain” Focused Roadmap

Board members collaborate with association staff to make sure that the key performance indicators indeed reflect the industry growth outcomes that align with the “value chain” Impact Survey. The Roadmap identifies the timing and phasing of new “value chain” initiatives. The roadmap process also determines what activities remain and which activities are discontinued. Breakthrough associations only invest resources in strategic activities that help the industry achieve its business outcomes.

Since the “value chain” experiences frequent and sudden changes in market conditions, the association is prepared to shift priorities with a more flexible approach to strategic planning.

V. Implement a “What We Do Together” Culture 

Board Leadership and the CEO share the new plan, mission, and vision with the “value chain” to emphasize how value will be delivered through the association to help suppliers, manufacturers, end users, and their customers achieve their business outcomes through the Association.

Breakthrough Associations

Breakthrough Associations can be at the cutting edge of transformation. By expanding your strategic planning process from a singular focus to a “value chain” focus, your association will build solutions that help address industry challenges while you support industry growth.

breakthrough associations

 

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

 

2017 Member Engagement Strategy

2017 Member Engagement Strategy

 

Market uncertainty and the pace of change will continue to impact membership decisions at professional societies and trade associations. Looming external factors will play a significant role in how membership decisions will be made.  The outcome of the U.S. Presidential and Congressional Elections, economic performance inside and outside the United States, mergers and acquisitions, baby boomer retirements, terror threats, and technology disruptions will influence whether or not professionals and corporate executives engage in their associations. Actionable Data can help organizations surface opportunities that can help members drive their professional and industry outcomes. Moreover, the data can serve as the foundation for a 2017 Member Engagement Strategy that can position your organization as a more relevant and necessary resource for your members.

Engage More and Sell Less

2017 Member Engagement StrategyIn terms of 2017 Member Engagement Strategy, utilize data and research to build your partnership with professions and industries. This can create a more positive dynamic that links your organization with the business and professional outcomes that members seek in an uncertain world. Getting your organization there requires a different look at the external landscape and the challenges that plague your members. Selling more or selling louder will hinder instead of help your 2017 Member Engagement Strategy.

Actionable Member Engagement Data

Understanding the extent to which your organization impacts industry or professional business outcomes is the foundation of your 2017 Member Engagement Strategy. Having actionable data (through focus groups, surveys, or industry or professional roundtables) helps your organization understand the external market challenges. Traditional satisfaction surveys and focus groups won’t provide the data that your organization must have to build an effective engagement strategy. What adds the most value is an Engagement and Impact dialogue where you surface more compelling professional and industry challenges and opportunities for your members.

In the 2014 Strategic Member Engagement Survey, organizations who regularly conduct impact surveys instead of “satisfaction” surveys report stronger operating performance than those who survey less frequently:

Survey Frequency Survey Annually Survey Infrequently
3-Year Operating Trends:
Retention up 31.90% 24.10%
Annual revenue up 55.10% 39.80%
Primary meeting registrations up 40.60% 31.30%
Fee for Service revenue up 43.50% 21.70%
Timely membership renewals up 31.90% 16.90%

Internal Perception Versus Member Reality

Associations and Professional Societies can avoid falling into a trap by separating internal perceptions from member realities. For example, securing actionable data focused on professional and industry business outcomes will help your organization build more meaningful 2017 Member Engagement Strategies.

In a recent Member Engagement Study released by Abila with surveys conducted by Edge Research , a new and unique approach helped uncover how and why members engage at membership organizations. The study reveals the differences in perception that occur from both a member and an organizational perspective. This research ventured to answer “four essential questions”:

  • What matters most to members when they join an organization?
  • What makes members feel involved and engaged?
  • How can Organizations better communicate?
  • Are organizations engaging members in a segmented, targeted, personal way?

Abila and Edge Research surveyed over 1,000 members in the United States in all age segments and also surveyed 150 Association Professionals. The online surveys were conducted between April 7 and April 25, 2016. Some of the differences in perceptions among members and professional membership organizations include:

  • Inclusiveness. Where 72 percent of organizational professionals see their organization as inclusive of different opinions, only 60 percent of the members who were surveyed share this view.
  • Responsiveness. Some 68 percent of members note their organizations as responsive, and 91 percent of organizations see themselves as responsive.
  • Good Value. From a member perspective, 63 percent see value for the membership fee. From an organizational perspective, 81 percent believe they are getting good value.

Utilizing survey approaches similar to this one will help your organization build a profession or industry focused 2017 Member Engagement Strategy. It’s all about how well you utilize the data to build engagement strategies that align with the challenges and opportunities that matter most to your members.

Drive and Help Define Their Future Outcomes

Associations and professional societies are facing increased competition from for profit companies, self-forming share groups, new associations and industry coalitions. Utilizing actionable data to develop your 2017 Member Engagement Strategy helps your organization establish uniqueness in the marketplace.  For example, the more your engagement strategy positions your organization to help support professional and industry outcomes for your members the better. Those organizations who have pivoted to this approach are impacting industry outcomes and reporting impressive operating performance:

2017 Member Engagement Strategy

A key component of your organization’s success will be your ability to unlock actionable data to construct its 2017 Member Engagement Strategy. Having data that surfaces new opportunities while it helps your organization develop meaningful 2017 Member Engagement Strategy can create the win you hope for next year and beyond.

2017 Member Engagement Strategy

 

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting