Is Your Association Losing Conference Market Share?

associationIs Your Association Losing Conference Market Share? In several cases, Associations cite lower attendance, drop in sponsorship and lower net performance. A market trend revealing the rise of for profit competitors is making the conference landscape even more challenging. For profit companies have considerable marketing prowess and are a force to be reckoned with. However, Associations conceivably have even greater competitive advantages than they might have thought.

Impediment or Opportunity

For profit competitors exist only on the periphery of member company business concerns. Could the motivation be perceived as transactional and purely profit driven? Quite possibly yes. On the other hand, Associations have mission focus and longer term relationships. Members view their Associations as their partners and maintain a connection point beyond profit motive.

Associations can leverage their competitive mastery by playing to their strength. Their long term connectivity means greater understanding. Associations reinforce their member bonds when they provide conference solutions that address member pain points. The Association’s  mission focus, content platform and long term relationships place for profit competitors at a significant competitive disadvantage.

Keep in mind that where for profit companies have marketing capacity, Associations have content, member pain point connections and relationships that run deep in their culture.

Associations can surpass for profit competitors in the conference space by leveraging inherent and powerful advantages.

6 Ways Associations Win the Conference Competition

 1. Data driven strategies connect Association to members. Use member survey data to quantify and member pain point needs. The data is the foundation for conference agendas, planning and execution.

2. Lead with your strength. Utilize members throughout conferences to lead and serve as panel experts and present at plenary sessions.

3. Outperform the competition. Consistently conduct best in class content conferences. Provide memorable take away solutions for attendees.

4. Go beyond traditional marketing and promotion. Invest in multi channel high impact marketing promotion and public relations strategy.

5. Pick cherries where cherries grow. Pinpoint traditional and social media outlets where prospective attendees consume information. Flood these markets with specific pain point promotion.

6. Nothing sells better than committed members.Utilize Volunteer Leaders to articulate value, and encourage traditional constituencies to attend conferences. E mails from them will much more likely be opened and read anyway!

The Networking Advantage

Associations by their nature are communities of people who share policy, professional and or business interests.  Members value and in some cases treasure these relationships. All Associations possess this advantage and should think of new and creative approaches to help their members network.

Many conference attendees measure the success of their conference experience by the number of new relationships they minted. On boarding networking appointment software in conference registration platforms is a certain winner. Associations should make the investment (if they have not already done so), this is one expense that ROI stamped all over it.

Is Your Association Losing Conference Market Share?

Associations like everyone else must live, function, and thrive in challenging times. When it comes to competing with for profit conference providers, Associations have considerable competitive advantages. Despite heavy investment by for profit competitors, Associations have  strong foundations where members rely upon them to deliver solutions year after year.

AssociationFor Tino Mantella, President & CEO, Technology Association of Georgia (http://www.tagonline.org/), the focus is on member pain points and meetings that address and satisfy those needs. In a seven year window, the Association experienced 600% membership growth, solid conference attendance and strong sponsor revenue performance. Leveraging their existing Association assets while addressing member pain points keeps them relevant and ahead of competitors.

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

3 Core Strategies to Win New Members

core strategies3 Core Strategies to Win New Members. Long gone are the days when corporations join Associations on the basis of “good citizenship.” The severe downturn resulted in high volume dues reductions and membership cancellations across the board. While some signs in the economy are promising, the recovery is not as robust as many had hoped. New member acquisition is still a steep hill to climb and it requires new thinking. Building a strategy from the Prospect’s Business Perspective helps Associations sharpen their market focus and grow membership.

Life Inside Prospect Companies

Corporations manage their businesses for maximum cash flow, and spending decisions must reflect positively on quarterly and annual earnings. Also, having sufficient liquidity to invest in acquisitions and having ample cash resources to withstand another downturn is a common theme. How do Associations and membership organizations come to grips with this reality? By developing campaign strategies from a prospective member’s vantage point.

Times Have Changed

The view inside the C Suite at prospect companies is decidedly different than the 1980’s. Today, fewer executives are tasked with performing more functions and in many situations the majority of sales and earnings growth comes from outside the United States. The task load is substantial.  More meetings and increased travel makes it nearly impossible to get and keep an executive’s attention for more than a few minutes.

Senior corporate executives must deliver results, and they are not interested in membership pitches. They need solutions that help them and their companies achieve business objectives.

 3 Core Strategies to Win New Members

1. View the marketplace as Prospect Executives do

Prospect companies, similar to members, are tuned to their own channel “WIIFM” What’s In It For Me. They join Associations where they perceive their participation moves the needle and help them achieve their business objectives. Research prior to meetings is essential. Utilize a legislative and regulatory impact statement to confirm and quantify critical needs. Determine how pending regulations or legislation impedes the company’s ability to meet profit targets in the next five years. (http://bit.ly/1btcvac).

2. Provide regulatory, legislative or training solutions that help prospects achieve results

Cite specific examples of how membership contributes to their bottom line. Utilizing the “pain point” issues, show how participation helps the company achieve their business objectives. Point to tangible examples of how other companies (customers and competitors) leverage their membership to achieve their business objectives. Have contact information available if prospects want to contact other executives for references. Nothing sells new members better than satisfied members!

3. Have an engagement culture assuring impact on policy and the Association’s overall direction.  

Not every company can have a senior executive serving on an Association’s board. As a result, they expect an Association culture that welcomes, considers and accepts new input. With time and financial resources short prospects expect a community focus where everyone works collaboratively to achieve the same objectives.

3 Core Strategies to Win New Members

Looking at recruitment from a Prospect’s Business Perspective helps Associations and membership organizations open more doors and secure new members. Some CEOs are seeing appreciable success. An Association is enjoying their third year of above plan new member growth and a different CEO reports consistent double digit new member growth.

One Association Executive noted “the cookie cutter and boiler plate approach no longer works. Prospects want allies to help them achieve success in the marketplace.” Absolutely correct, anything less than that will close more prospect’s doors than it will open.

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

Is Your Association a Market Leader?

associationIs Your Association a Market Leader? Legendary business leader and former GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welch said ” if you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.”  Rightly so, Market Leaders consistently leverage their marketing prowess to dominate the sectors in which they serve. Failure to lead and compete effectively will result in a market share loss for Associations.

Market Leader Versus Market Participant

It’s risky for any Association to stay back with the pack. New coalitions, Association’s and Law Firms actively seek corporate funding tailored to meet short and long term policy or regulatory objectives. Competitive pressure builds constantly, Associations can ill afford to be passive.

Market Leaders that are astute: measure their impact in real time, execute multi channel marketing and communications strategies and continuously engage stakeholders and elected officials. They also build upon market strength, maintain their uniqueness, drive powerful value propositions while they meet and exceed their revenue objectives.

3 Strategies To Become a Market Leader

1. Build A Brand Fortress. Create and execute an ongoing marketing and communications program that emphasizes Association’s value proposition: providing insights, connections and advocacy for the industry. Be viewed as the premier Association leader in a sector. Issue experts visible in: social and traditional media, among elected officials and regulators.

2. Help Member’s Overcome Obstacles. The Association’s policy and regulatory agenda, grass roots programs, are harmonized to help members overcome legislative and regulatory hurdles.

3. Engage Members. Members view the Association as their strategic ally and their dues payments are perceived as an investment instead of an expense. The culture is seen as a community, members are invited to participate and share their perspectives. Staff, Members and Board Members see their roles as interconnected, everyone is working to achieve the same outcomes.

Market Leaders Consistently Execute and Deliver

Since they have a strong foundation, the Market Leader has clear cut objectives: Achieve policy and regulatory objectives, drive new membership growth, sponsor renewal and growth, sponsor sales, conference attendance growth.

Execution is a key aspect of a Market Leading Association, so much so that “getting it done” is ingrained in their DNA. Firing on all cylinders, they have regular team meetings to celebrate success and/or determine corrective steps to stay on target, performance rewards successful member engagement, advocacy and revenue growth throughout the year.

Is Your Association a Market Leader?

For several Associations, success and excellent performance are deliberate. These groups successfully transitioned from Market Participant to Market Leader. One Association became a market leader, built a brand fortress connected to member objectives and engaging members. By doing so they almost tripled revenues in just over two years. Another Association restructured an underperforming Division and achieved their first net gain performance in five years.

According to a recent Survey by the Business Roundtable, the “uncertain political environment” and unresolved U.S. Debt Crisis were identified as reasons for the economy showing only slight improvement. Achieving Market Leader status is as necessary as it is essential for Associations. As Companies evaluate their Associations, you can bet the Market Leaders will appear on the list of memberships to renew.  (http://bit.ly/1PACOCc)

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

association

Business Outcome Profile

Business Outcome Profile

Getting the final membership commitment is difficult for many Associations. Companies remain uncertain about the economic environment and as a result they remain hesitant when it comes to joining another Association. Despite market resistance, new member growth and positive financial reports are expected at board meetings. CEOs continue to face interesting challenges on the membership growth front.

Plato reminds us that “necessity is the mother of invention” and thankfully so. Utilizing member data, Associations can construct a more innovative game plan to grow new members. CEOs and Senior Managers will be pleased to learn, notwithstanding impediments, that new member growth is well within their reach.

Business Outcome Strength Profile

Developing an Association Member Business Outcome Profile reflecting the most active and participative companies is a powerful resource for CEOs seeking a path to new member growth:

  1. How connected are we to Member Business Outcomes?
  2. What types of companies/ sectors actively participate in the Association today?
  3. Which products, services and policy committees draw consistent participation from these sectors?
  4. What are the pain point reasons motivating current members to participate as actively as they are?
  5. Which prospect companies reside in the same companies/sectors as your most active members?

Associations can develop an effective list of prospects in the same companies/sectors  as the most active members. Why? If the Member Business Outcome Profile shows strong support for the Association among existing members, it becomes more likely that prospects will be open to membership consideration.

Move Quickly

Having the benefit of data revealing strong support in key companies/sectors, new member recruitment should become an Association wide effort. Greater participation is a bellwether and Association CEOs should motivate all stakeholders to help achieve new member growth:

  • Board Members. Share the Member Business Outcome Profile and strategy with the Board. They’ll want to know their business outcomes are being met. Ask them to be on the team and open doors for staff to meet with prospects. Express appreciation and acknowledge their help at Board meetings.
  • Staff. Encourage staff throughout the Association to join the effort to grow membership. Keep them motivated through communication, share regular progress reports. 

Business Outcome Profile 

One Association achieved its first profitable year in almost five years utilizing a Business Outcome Profile. The following year they achieved the best growth performance in six years. Several other Associations doubled membership, achieved record sponsor performance and drove consistent  90% + retention performance.

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” said Albert Einstein. The global economy, and economic uncertainty make it difficult for Associations to achieve their new member objectives.  However, a  Business Outcome Profile identifies strategies to to link the Association with memebr business outcomes and create more opportunity to achieve and even surpass new member growth objectives.

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

the outcome profile

Association Speed to Market

Association Speed to Market

 As Associations compete for the seemingly smaller pool of corporate dollars, CEOs, senior managers, and boards want every possible competitive advantage.  With Conference and Training vendors fighting for their piece of the pie, they know how to leverage a powerful CRM (Customer Relations Management) and custom databases to get at the market place quickly. In order to remain competitive, Associations too need the same speed to market. There are plenty of technology tools and alternatives, however CEO’s and Senior Managers should begin the process with an information scan.

Start at the Beginning

Regardless of Association size, the effort  should start with a full inventory of member, sponsor and prospect data. Determine what exists and develop a smart list of what else is required. Most importantly, make sure that the Association is capturing up at night issues and company participation. This is the information that helps formulate Data Driven Strategies for organizations.

Know Thy Marketplace

Maintaining a full profile on key aspects of members, prospects and sponsors is essential.  Sir Francis Bacon noted that “Knowledge is power ” and for Associations, updated market information is omnipotent.

Every database should at a minimum contain the following information about members and sponsors, and have a treasure trove of data on prospective members:

Members and Sponsors

  • Issue and regulatory concerns that impact member or sponsor company’s ability to achieve their business objectives.
  • Participation in up at night issue activities, i.e. committees, calls to action.
  • Updated contact information for executives who approve member dues or sponsorship’s.
  • Complete descriptions of member and sponsor products and services and industries they serve.
  • Record of significant staff interaction with member and company executives.
  • Staff relationship owner.

Prospects

  • Issue and regulatory concerns that impact prospective member or sponsor company’s ability to achieve their business objectives.
  • Complete descriptions of products and services and industries they serve.
  • Board Members in similar industries or who have similar issue or regulatory concerns.
  • Participation in up at night issue activities, i.e. committees, calls to action.
  • Updated contact information for executives who approve member dues or sponsorship’s.
  • Inventory of Associations prospective members or sponsors participate in.
  • Record of significant staff interaction with member and company executives.
  • Staff relationship owner.

Ready to Add Speed to Market 

With complete member, prospect and sponsor profiles, Associations are then ready to add capacity.   The updated database is complete but not capable of driving speed to market. As the marketplace moves in real time, Associations require the capacity that only an effective CRM capable resource provides.

CRM capability should provide Association’s the ability to deliver:

  • Analytics reflecting member engagement and participation.
  • Net performance trends.
  • Member and prospective member or sponsor business outcomes.
  • Capacity to segment data and deliver focused messaging.

If an Association database and CRM are missing any of these elements they should identify new technology solutions that will complement their existing infrastructure.

Association Speed to Market

For Associations making the plunge adding speed to market at your association makes a difference. Leveraging updated data and CRM capacity, one Association doubled grass roots program participation and another Association achieved record conference profits.

Vendors are competing more aggressively than ever for their share of conference, sponsor, training, education and certification dollars. Although budget investments face increasing scrutiny, adding CRM capacity will enhance an Associations speed to market.

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

association speed to market

 

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

Associations’ Non Dues Revenue Puzzle

Associations’ Non Dues Revenue Puzzle

 Associations must keep pace in salary, benefits and member service offerings in order to remain competitive. While there is general agreement that  membership renewals and new member growth are essential for Associations, there is a growing need for alternate revenue streams, too.  Non dues revenues are increasingly more important for CEOs, Senior Managers and Boards of Directors’, they see the need to grow and understand there is no easy answer.

Definitions of non dues revenue are different from one Association to another. In some cases Training, Education, Digital Published Information and Conferences all contribute to revenue streams. However the definition and the focus of the revenue stream must be data based and member focused.

Yes, Associations can increase revenues but first they need to define and understand the existing member market first.  In “Profit From the Core, Growth Strategy in an Era of Turbulence” Chris Zook and Jim Allen, copyright 2010 Bain and Company(updated edition),  the authors present a compelling review process whereby a business develops boundary definitions, and determines marketplace differentiation to define new revenue growth opportunities.

Non Dues Revenue Checklist

Data Driven Strategies, Core Connections and Member engagement are as effective in identifying and growing non dues revenues as they are in retaining and recruiting new members. Boards utilize similar processes inside their companies and will appreciate the same thoughtful and deliberate approach at their Association:

1. Data Driven Strategies – Identify member business objectives, determine products, services, education, training, standards and certification that enhance member market performance. Conduct competitive market analysis understand what other Associations offer, conduct beta tests and develop robust offering which complement a strong policy, advocacy and regulatory offerings.

2. Core Connections – The strategic partnership is enhanced with a suite of value added resources. Associations can reinforce their credentials as a destination location with the most appropriate services.

3. Member Engagement – As is the case with policy and advocacy engagement members want to know they have an impact on outcomes. Provide opportunities to test new products and services and engage them in developing and designing your new offerings.

Associations should continually evaluate the efficacy of their offerings.  This process will help keep non dues revenue initiatives focused on member business objectives.

Associations Can Profit from the Core

Yes it really works! Associations are devising and developing leadership roles that complement their policy and advocacy work:

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) leads the HVAC industry with research and technical materials as well as online training.

Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) continually creates Societies to help their members address arising business needs.

National Institute of Investor Relations (NIRI) is building a certification program for its global membership.

A number of  Associations note that networking is a key element of the non dues revenue value proposition. In a number of cases, Associations utilize registration software allowing members to make networking appointments ahead of time.

Associations’ Non Dues Revenue Puzzle

When it comes to non dues revenue the Jerry McGuire “Show Me the Money” approach is a non starter. Why? Market competition, the rise of single issue coalitions and new Associations. Members expect connections to their business objectives, especially on products and services. Or they will vote with their check book and seek other solutions.

Market turbulence is now a part of the business landscape for Associations which means, any new products require the same type of due diligence before they go to market. Although there are no quick fixes, there is at least a method to make and build a case for products or services that add to member success.

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

 

Why Mentors Matter to Association CEO’s

Why Mentors Matter to Association CEO’s

For years, hard working executives build a path to the corner office. Then the day arrives, they’ve achieved their professional ambition and become an Association CEO.  Where do they turn for unfettered strategic guidance? What about Chief Executives struggling to achieve revenue growth, or the CEO wanting to take the Association to the next level of performance?  Clearly an effective board and skilled senior management team make a difference, but one question remains.  Do CEO’s, regardless of circumstances, have a safe space they can go to obtain good feedback?

In today’s uncertain environment being at the top of the staff pyramid is challenging on good days and daunting on bad days.  Wary Association Executives also know they need to tread lightly as there might be a political agenda hiding behind issues. Having a mentor, an objective impartial perspective, can make a big difference in how things work out for CEO’s.

Mentors Provide Safe Space

Whether be symptoms or even perceived red flags, CEOs need perspective in order to make sure the Association satisfies its members, grows revenues and achieves its mission. One Association staff leader likened his environment to a busy day to a walk through the world’s busiest airport, “chaotic with everyone going in their own direction.” Another leader defined their experience as  “herding cats in a thunder storm.”

Interestingly enough the August 2012 issue of Workforce Magazine, a University of Phoenix Alumni Association publication, cited a Fortune 500 Survey that “75% of Fortune 500 CEOs cited mentoring as one of the top three factors in their own career success.” Knowing this, Association CEOs could also be well served with effective mentors.

How does a CEO determine what Type of Mentor they Need?

Regardless of time in the position or tenure at an Association, identifying one or more mentors  is something every CEO can and should do.  First, however, an executive needs to develop a self profile based on the following:

 1. What is the current situation?  New CEO, first time CEO, promoted from within, etc.

 2. Are the issues facing the Association strategy or management and execution related?

 3.  What is the feedback from Board Leadership, colleagues and staff?

 4. An inventory of skills, strengths and weaknesses.

Develop four buckets, determine the drivers within each of the four categories and formulate a theme of issues that need to be addressed. Now a CEO is ready to determine the type of mentor that can be most helpful.

Next and Necessary Steps

A mentor can be a CEO colleague, a retired Executive, or a working professional not connected with the Association space. What matters most is a current Association Executive having the capacity to take a step back and assess what can be done to grow, improve and become a high performing leader.

Recruiting a mentor is straightforward, but it’s critical to have a one page summary outlining the 4 bucket strategy with clearly focused objectives.  The person you approach wants to know you’ve thought it through and you want their honest and objective guidance moving forward. There is no time limit, that is something a CEO and the prospective mentors determine in their work together.

A former colleague asked if more than one mentor could be helpful. Yes, as long as the objectives and desired outcomes are understood by both parties, more than one mentor can also be an effective strategy.

Why Mentors Matter to Association CEO’s

In a July 7, 2006 CEO Update article reflecting the complexity of issues facing today’s Executives  CEO Departures: What Went Wrong?” CEO tenure mirrors corporate America with an average span of only five years. While there are other factors that weigh heavily on CEO transitions, having a mentor can help a busy Chief Executive avoid the inevitable pitfalls.

 Mentors can, do, and will matter for Association CEOs. Having skilled, qualified and impartial observers provides the right level perspective and objectivity that makes a difference.

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

 

Should Associations Revisit Sponsorship? Maybe.

Should Associations Revisit Sponsorship? Maybe

 Although U.S. reports 3% GDP growth in the first quarter, financial news out of Europe is not encouraging. Companies especially maintain a watchful and wary eye on expenditures. Some Associations report single digit revenue growth, others show no year over year increase. Yes, Associations are facing stiff headwinds as they aggressively secure existing revenue, and, work diligently to grow new revenue. Before the great Recession Sponsor Revenue was more reliable, but not anymore. It makes sense for CEO’s to revisit the strategy and definition of Sponsor programs.

Sponsors similar to members and prospects face smaller corporate budgets and immense pressure to deliver ROI.   However, there is one key factor Associations need to be mindful of; In hard times membership and sponsorship both are on the chopping block. There is a way to reposition and strengthen Associations to drive renewals and new members. The good news? There is an innovative way to reposition and grow Association Sponsor revenues too!

Strategic Review of Sponsor Programs

One Association Executive recently bemoaned, “Sponsor revenues aren’t nearly what they once were and we’re losing money.” Clearly a time to reassess the strategy and be prospective.

The three step Assessment model works as effectively for Sponsors as it does for renewals and new member recruitment:

Data Driven Strategies. What were sponsor revenues from 2006 through 2008?  What were sponsor revenues 2009 through 2011? Which companies participated pre recession and which no longer participate? What changed in the Company Sponsor evaluation process pre and post recession? What are the Sponsor’s business objectives post recession versus pre recession? Does your Association work with a C Level Executive or are you working with the Marketing Department?  What program or attendance dynamics at your Association events changed pre and post recession? What are your Association’s competitors doing differently now versus pre- recession?  Does your Association utilize post event Sponsor Surveys?  If so,  what are the takeaways? In meeting with CEO or C Level executives, what message do they convey?

Core Connections. All of the Data will inform Associations and uncover opportunities including the need to build allies in the C Suite of Sponsors as much as you do members and prospects.  In addition, Associations could realize that Sponsors are most interested in being partners and supporting an industry key to their business success.  This is the NEW Core Connection and requires a new strategy; instead of the Sponsor Program, Associations reposition to a Corporate Partner Program. This is a transition allowing these companies to fully partner with your Association.

Corporate Partner Engagement. As Corporate Partners, C Level executives will be able to interact on equal footing. Associations may consider creating a Corporate Partner Advisory Council and provide these investors a seat at the table.  If they perceive an ability to impact the direction of the Association and they perceive a welcoming community, the strategic transition is complete. Sponsors are a thing of the past, Corporate Partners achieve the same status as members, they are part of the fabric of the larger Community.

Should Associations Revisit Sponsorship?  Maybe.

It was an “ah ha” moment for one Association. Suffering considerable sponsor revenue losses, the staff engaged Sponsors directly. What was learned? The Sponsor wanted a strong industry but indicated that one of the first cuts is in the Sponsor area. Consequently it was the Sponsor who   helped the Association see a new path. This particular Association drives over $1 million annually in Corporate Partner Revenues.

In a booming economy Sponsor revenue was more reliable, but that is no longer the reality.  Uncertain times require a new look at how Association’s drive revenues. Although some argue that hard work is the best growth strategy, working smarter could hold the key to a brighter future.  In this instance, a strategic shift to a Corporate Partner program is the smarter strategy to grow and maintain an important Association revenue stream.

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

 

What creates a willingness for Association culture change?

This is the fifth in a series on Association culture, its role, how it is shaped, and how it can be changed.

by John M. Bernard

What creates a willingness for Association culture change? So much has been written about change management. However, during my 30+ years doing this work I have discovered the primary lever to successful change, especially cultural change. Understanding that lever doesn’t mean Association culture change comes easily, but it does significantly increase the chance of success.

The primary lever to successful Association culture change is that the change makes sense to people.

In my experience, the reason our Association management system drives culture change is not mysterious.  In fact, the management system works because the underlying premise rings true in people’s heads and hearts.

What is is true about the Association management system are the following beliefs:

  • Every human being has gifts, interests, and passions
  • Every employee wants to be in service to some effort or cause bigger than themselves
  • Leaders must respect what people have to offer and effectively put it to work to create winning organizations

This set of beliefs — in the value of each and every human being — is what breathes energy and excitement into the Associations that choose to work with us.

Change They Believe In

Association CultureAs you look at Association culture change, understanding that people will embrace change they believe in, establishes the test for the success of any change effort.

Once people understand that their Association leaders authentically share in beliefs such as those mentioned above — and genuinely want to bring them to life — they cannot help but respond supportively.

Change is never easy, but it is much easier when it is good and when it is right.

What creates a willingness for Association culture change?

I’ll close with one thought, one that has become very clear to me as Mass Ingenuity grows. We as a company have to be diligent about preserving our foundational beliefs in the inherent good of people. As we grow, this is sacred ground for us, ground which we must protect because it is the foundation of our success.

Next week I’ll share some thinking on the ways on organization’s culture can hamper change.