Innovation Author Helps Associations


Culture of Innovation Author

John M. Bernard, Innovation Author,
Chairman and Founder,
Mass Ingenuity

Innovation Author. John M. Bernard, Chairman and  Founder, Mass Ingenuity, will serve as a Contributor on the Potomac Core Consulting Blog. Bernard is also the Author of Business at the Speed of Now. He is also an experienced executive (CEO, SVP Operational Excellence, Founder, Chairman), consultant, speaker and outspoken advocate for the elimination of fear.

Culture Drives Revenue Growth

For the next seven weeks, Bernard will provide key insights for Associations that are looking to innovate as they better engage their staff and provide value for members. The posts will appear every Thursday and include the following critical topics:

  • What does it take to create a Culture that Actively Supports Change? 
  • What Accelerates Cultural Change?
  • What’s culture’s affect on Organizational Change?
  • Can a Culture Change Quickly?
  • Why Leaders Should Worry About Their Culture?
  • What Changes Culture?
  • The Mysterious Lever of Success

Innovation Author helps Associations

Bernard recently appeared in a post sharing 3 Steps to Culture of Innovation

How does your Association navigate culture and drive innovation?  Let’s share ideas.

Association Growth and Retention

Association Growth and Retention.  What’s the most effective road to consistent dues growth? Member Retention. Why? Because member retention reflects the best barometer of value received, member engagement and an Association’s relevance. The most satisfied or dissatisfied members don’t hesitate to share their ROI or their dissatisfaction when they speak with other members, prospective members or competitors. If an Association wonders where the biggest impediment to growth lies, it is Retention.

Beware of The Billboard Effect

In the real time world, both good and bad news travel fast. One bad member experience can be posted and spread like a wildfire of bad news. An Associations’ threat is real and CEO’s should  factor this reality in their member engagement strategies. Many are implementing Association wide strategies to involve all staff in member engagement and participation.

It’s not all bad news, The Billboard Effect works with satisfied members too. Satisfied members are happy to convey positive news as well.  In one Association, satisfied members scheduled meetings with prospective members (who later joined), and in another Association satisfied Board Members agreed to recruit new Directors based on their positive experience.

Growth and Retention Multiplier

Make no mistake, Retention is a growth multiplier. Some Associations re calibrated their membership strategies and rightly so. The better the retention performance then the better the cash flow and year end net growth performance.

Secret Formula, Use it Today

1. First Year Renewal for New Members, Add $20,000 to Year End Growth

Example ,$100,000 first year renewals, improve retention from 70% to 90%.

2. Member renewals, add $200,000 to Year End Growth

Example, $1 million renewals, improve retention from 70% to 90%

Best Practices

One Association achieved two consecutive $1 million plus net revenue gains, another improved cash flow by several hundred thousand dollars. CFO’s will appreciate this approach. This is a more balanced and less expensive approach to revenue growth.

Association Growth and Retention

 Link growth and retention and Associations potentially multiply year end growth while they avoid the downside of the Billboard Effect.

Much more on Association Revenue Growth at

3 Steps to Culture of Innovation at Associations

3 Steps to Culture of Innovation at Associations. Associations face a growing demand to customize programs, benefits and services for  members. “Mass Customization” is a reality says John M. Bernard, a noted Author and founder and Chairman of Mass Ingenuity In his Book “Business at the Speed of Now” Bernard emphasizes  that in a new millennium, customers expect immediate and customized solutions or they’ll go elsewhere. Bernard who will serve as a Guest Contributor for Potomac Core Consulting’s Blog,  breaks new ground helping Associations focus on new approaches to satisfy members. Bernard emphasizes Associations are best served when their Leaders establish an “innovative and creative culture for their workforce.”

3 Steps to Culture of Innovation at Associations

3 Steps to Culture of Innovation

John M. Bernard
Chairman and Founder,
Mass Ingenuity


  1.  Make Staff Empowerment the Norm

Encouraging staff to listen closely and identify specific needs from members, prospects and sponsors is a first step. The objective is to have staff feel empowered to quickly solve problems without intervention from higher levels of management.




      2.  Create an Innovative Centered Culture

Association Executives can create a culture whereby employees believe they can create, express themselves and innovate. Innovation is especially a key determinant of Association revenue growth. As member demands become more unique, Associations need to rely on innovation in order to satisfy unique needs.


    3.    Define Clear Boundaries

An essential part of creating an innovative culture is providing clarity for employees. For example, defining project boundaries meaning performance expectations, responsibilities and metrics for success. Says Bernard “if Managers do the hard work” and establish definition it will help foster positive culture and employee engagement.

Relevance in a Now World

Associations looking to stay relevant with members, prospects and sponsors can do so with 3 Steps to Culture of Innovation. In a customized and a Now World this could be the Member Satisfaction Game Changer Associations seek.

Much more on Association Revenue Growth at

Innovation Drives Double Digit Association Growth

innovationInnovation and ROI Drives Double Digit Association Growth.  Revenue growth is challenging in any environment. Regardless, constant innovation helped Gregory Casey, President and CEO,  BIPAC and Industry Political Action Committee) achieve double digit revenue growth and membership growth over the past decade.

Changed the Game

BIPAC delivers grass roots tools to help Corporations and Associations reach public policy goals. However, it is Casey’s persistent focus on maintaining the organization’s relevance with high impact tools that served as a game changer. Testing new technology platforms and always challenging his team to keep looking around the corner reflect the centerpiece of BIPAC’s culture.

Pain Points and Core Connections

BIPAC maintains a crisp focus on how members achieve their business objectives. It’s programs and services connects to and drive business outcomes through grass roots advocacy. The Rule of Thumb applies to BIPAC’s success; the greater the connection to “pain point” issues, the greater the degree of revenue growth.

Utilizing its programs (Prosperity Fund, Prosperity Project, PAC Resources and Political Analysis among others) BIPAC delivers actionable resources to inform and activate employees on priority public policy issues. Through its state deployment partners, BIPAC boasts its “50 State” grass roots capacity for Companies and Association who participate.


Silicon Valley Innovation Culture

Founded in 1963 as the nations’ first business bipartisan and independent political action committee, BIPAC continually evolves.  The organization invests and reinvests in new technologies to help Companies and Associations with customized technology solutions to accelerate grass roots policy impact with Congress.

Challenges and Opportunities

Not unlike any other Association or organization, BIPAC too has its share of market impediments. Making complex economic issues relevant to employees can be at times a substantial challenge says Casey. However, by leveraging technology as its most potent asset, they deliver results.


Innovation Drives Double Digit Association Growth

If necessity is the mother of invention, BIPAC is a good example of how innovation can be the mother of double digit growth.

How does your Association apply innovation to deliver new products and services to its members?

Much more on Association Revenue Growth at

Driving Association Revenue Growth

Driving Association Revenue Growth. Board Participation is key.Company Executives are busy and in a number of cases expect Association staff to deliver revenue. Yet, there are examples where Board Members are very helpful in driving revenue. In certain situations, Boards help retain and recruit members and sponsors and the results are impressive. Could the paradigm change at your Association? Yes and it requires a strategic change in how your Association works with its Directors.

Four Steps to Board Participation 

First: Engage and Energize Board Members. Recruit Board members to participate on Pain Point issues (see March 4 2013 post: Know Pain Points to Drive Revenue Growth).  Executives will participate on Association Boards in order to engage on policy affecting their business objectives. Once they see ROI, it’s time for another conversation.

Second: Confirm that involvement adds ROI.  Share upcoming advocacy strategies, seek feedback and buy in.

Third: Seek help to expand the Association’s advocacy capacity on Pain Points. Be prepared, be specific and make it easy for them to help. For example, request introductions, phone calls, e mails, letters (Association provides) to priority retention, new member or sponsor companies.

Fourth: Acknowledge the Board members’ help to drive revenue.  Recognize help at their board and executive committee meetings. This shows sincere appreciation and it will motivate other Board Members to help.

Board Engagement

Associations should view this change as a multiyear effort. Every Board relationship is critical and consequently each is built one at a time.

Driving Association Revenue Growth

One Association utilized this approach to recruit a high percentage of its Directors. The same Board Members once they participated in Pain Point issues, helped drive back to back above 90% retention and $1 million + net revenue gains. Another Association built on new sponsor offerings and significantly increased revenues.

How has your Association worked with Board members to secure their help in driving revenue? 

Much more on Association Revenue Growth at

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), 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 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

Core Strategies Drives Association’s New Revenue Growth

Core Strategies Drives Association’s New Revenue Growth

 Despite increasing competition, political turmoil in Washington, DC, and a slow growth economy Jeffrey D. Morgan, President and CEO, NIRI (National Institute of Investor Relations) reports impressive membership and revenue growth. He points to a “strong Board partnership, measureable member data, core strategies and strong execution” as essential ingredients to his Associations growth.

Listen, Learn and Deliver

Working through two strategic plans in five years, NIRI identified where the Investor Relations profession was heading and, determined what his Association needed to do in order to adapt and provide core value to their members. Collaborating with his Board, members and staff, Morgan utilized the planning process to 1) Develop actionable data defining the membership’s  business needs (pain points), and 2) Developed core strategies with NIRI’s members with high impact products to satisfy member business needs.


Game Changing Value for Members

Companies, stay or leave membership based on the obvious connections between their needs and an Association’s products and services.  In NIRI’s case, member data and establishing core strategies identified business needs which paved the way for new products. According to Morgan “these became a game changer for NIRI.”


Uniqueness to Enhance Competitive Position

As competition for Association dues increase, retention and core member value are critical to satisfaction and revenue growth. NIRI seized upon one new approach to reinforce its uniqueness to members and prospects.


Core Strategies Drives Association’s New Revenue Growth

Morgan’s strong 17% non U.S. membership growth performance (over three years) confirms the rule of thumb for Associations. The fewer connections to member’s “pain point” issues, the weaker the retention and member revenue growth performance. Morgan and NIRI gathered data, addressed member needs and achieved strong retention and growth performance.

core strategies


Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at,, and

Core Connections can Help Double Association Revenue Growth

Core Connections can help Double Association Revenue Growth

Competition squeezing revenue growth at your Association? Seth Godin has the right thought on competition; “…it takes away the requirement to set your own path, to invent your own method, to find a new way.”  Associations face competitive pressure from new single issue coalitions and Associations, Law Firms, and Public Relations Firms. New growth path? Drive Home Core Connections, connect to your member’s business objectives to every program and on every platform.

Link Your Core Connections to Member Pain Points Everywhere

Make it a priority. Display your Association’s commitment to help your members achieve their business objectives. Associations who reflect member concerns increase their competitive position, elevate renewal rates and grow revenues.

Engage your Senior Management team, involve your Board Members and Drive Home your Association’s Core Connections:

  1. Association mission, vision statement and value proposition
  2. Public policy agenda and advocacy programs
  3. Website, new and traditional media, member communications
  4. Conferences and educational programming
  5. Peer to peer best practice sharing
  6. Membership recruitment and retention
  7. Organizational structure, performance objectives and compensation programs

Core Connections Work

Associations linking to member business objectives see results:

  • New member revenues grew almost $2 million in revenue in a two year window.
  • Renewals delivered over 90% retention
  • Key CEO’s agreed to participate on an Association’s Board of Directors

Core Connections can Help Double Association Revenue Growth

It’s a safer bet that renewal conversations and new member recruitment meetings become a lot easier if Associations reflect Core Connections.

Seth Godin nails it. Associations should set their own path and find a new way.

core connectionsFree eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at,, and

Know Pain Points to Drive Association Revenue Growth

Know “Pain Points” to drive Association Growth

Maybe Hill Street Blues character Sgt. Phil Esterhaus had it right when he said on every show “Hey, Let’s be careful out there!” Confirming Association renewals and recruiting new members can be as challenging as working a precinct in an iconic television show. However, if we know the issues along with the dollar impact on members we know the “pain points.”

Dollar Impact

Put yourself in your member’s place. Knowing the issues is important. However, understanding the dollar impact of issues shows your Association’s grasp of the enormous challenges they must overcome to be successful. Companies have choices, new Associations and single issue coalitions represent deep competitive threats. Executives seek solutions to business obstacles, with fewer membership dollars they renew or join Associations that help them achieve business objectives.

Identify Pain Points and Deliver Value

Identify, quantify and qualify policy impact and confirm member participation in the most critical areas:

  1. What is the dollar impact of policies on members and prospects?
  2. Are your member’s participating in areas that impact them?
  3. If education programs are important from a dollar impact perspective, are they engaged in these programs?

Does this approach Drive Association Revenue Growth?

Yes, one Association utilized this information to accelerate member engagement. In another situation an Association doubled new member revenue.

Know Pain Points to Drive Association Revenue Growth

A new CEO discovered that their predecessors invested heavily in a large number of educational products that none of his members were buying. Where were the “pain points” supporting the business decision? Clearly an unfortunate situation.

pain points


Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at,, and

Can Social Media Drive Association Revenue?

Can Social Media Drive Association Revenue?

 Yes, but not as a stand alone strategy.  Listening, engagement and connection to an Association’s overall strategy is what matters most says Digital Media Expert Jason Langsner. An established web communications professional, he’s accelerated engagement and more than multiplied online communities at B’nai Brith, Georgetown University Alumni Club of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and TechAmerica.  

For Associations determined to engage members, improve retention and grow membership online, social media is not as impactful as a stand alone tool. How can CEO’s get ROI? By incorporating social media within an Association’s overall engagement strategy, and incorporating business objectives.

Effective social media begins with listening. First make sure Associations understand their members. In many ways Associations apply the same principles they utilize in offline world as they do in the online world.

The key is assure you are having a conversation with members:

  1. Identify where members are online
  2. Bring content to them, engage them and seek feedback
  3. Benchmark your Association online compared to competitors

Associations can engage and grow their communities online by sharing content with members. Utilizing this approach B’nai Brith grew it’s Facebook fan base from 300 to 10,000. Langsner suggests basics including:

  • Facebook. Like members and prospects, this encourages to do the same and grow your fan following.
  • Twitter. Follow members, prospects and sponsors.  This encourages to in turn follow your Association on Twitter.


Can Social Media Drive Association Revenue?

Langsner encourages Online Managers to always be mindful of competitors and to make sure your Association stays ahead of the game with high quality content and engagement.

At a time when Associations must engage their members, social media is a powerful tool. However a key question remains; can Social Media Drive Revenue? According to Langsner, B’nai Brith’s online revenues have increased six fold in the last six months.

social media


Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at,, and